Writing techniques are like paints in a paint pallet, and the writer has to decide which to use for maximum effect; Furthermore, all good writers uses these tools from their toolbox kit, whether the reader who's reading for pleasure realizes this or not, because these are building blocks and techniques to compose a story. All these techniques are blocks to building your story up on, like a brick house. The construction crew built those houses one brick at a time. A skillful writer uses these tools well to enhance her story, this is what makes a reader experience what they are writing better. Whether a reader who's reading for enjoyment realizes it or not that these suttle techniques are actually the elements that are enhancing their experiences, it is a fact. The evidence is strong in a novel titled The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. There are many different tools and literary elements she utilizes a few examples are a balance of show and tell, dialog, and Narrator/POV/reliability.
The balance of show and tell is important. If one narrates a story entirely, it becomes something one just can't really picture and imagine. The story becomes one dimensional and somewhat childish. However, We cannot just rely on showing alone. We can not show absolutely everything because somethings cannot be shown or does not need to be shown. Some details if shown will be drab and useless making the novel drag, and if everything was shown, perhaps the novel will be much longer than necessary. Some benefits of telling is perspective, denoting passing of time, the character state, a fact that the characteristic that the other character knows or are ignorant of, ETC. Margaret Atwood does both extremely well, and can balance out her novel with both elements. Though the interesting fact with atwood that one can concretely observe is that more of her novel is told, which is generally highly not encouraged, because too much telling can weigh a novel down with too much narrative. "The hair is ragged, the back of his neck is nicked" and "he's bent like an old man, his eyes are pouched, small purple veins have burst in his cheeks, there's a scar" and also, "The color of tulips, near the stem end, down the left side of his face where the flesh recently,"(104). Those are powerful imagery. It's best to be shown so to place anyone who reads enough imagery to be in the moment with Offred, and it also serves to really evoke emotions out of the reader. Atwood here uses some telling well, to provide context, and perspective. In a sense some of Offred's thoughts and how she looks at him. This story is told from her perspective after all. Other characters can't get in to her head. it's probably very dangerous and imprudent to say these out in dialogue because, of the nature of their society. She's not suppose to be thinking or saying these things. There's a strict sense of right and if you do not agree with the elites and their government, you're pretty much done for. Such narrative bits of the sentence such as "anyway, they don't do it wel," and "that's hardly the wors, he looks ten years older, twenty," (104), is an example of this. You can see neither of these, but they tell of her perspective, which adds depth and context to all of this descriptive showing. After this, there is an intriguing sentence which is telling and could not be seen or sensed, but it also provides perspective and POV. In this tense sceen, there is a very teling sentence about offred's perspective, "The body is so easily damaged, so easily disposed of, water and chemicals is all it is, hardly more to it than a jellyfish, drying on sand" (104). An example of a passage with just telling is "Any day now there may be a message from him. It will come in the most unexpected way from the least likely person, someone I never would have suspected," 105). This is to provide her thoughts. No one would have a dialogue about it with her, it's about her former life which should matter. Also, it would be an extremely risky and dangerous conversation. This stuff is not shown, but told because it's her internal thoughts. She has to tel you what she thinks. Another example of this is throughout dialogue. At this part of the scene she shows, because it's action, and if people walk in to this bathroom, they could see this in action. Atwood shows in this way, "I put my mouth to the wooden hole," (73). In the same dialogue passage however, there is some telling as it's unseen and internal. This is to show her emotions, as she describes, "Relief goes through me," (73). This is powerful because it shows her emotion and it adds another level to it. This is only one aspect of how Atwood uses these tools, as showing and teling is only one of them.
Dialogue is important and often is very teling. Some novels it tends to domoinate the novel more. There is no waffling allowed in a novel. Dialogue is there for a good purpose. Atwood does this. Another thing she does is she plays with the style of dialogue, so one can distinguish between present day and flashbacks. For instance:
"but whom fault was it? Aunt Helena says, holding up one plump finger.
"her fault, her fault, her fault, we chanted in unison.
"who led them on? Aunt Helena beams, pleased with us. She did. She did. she did.
"why did God allow such a terrible thing to happen?
"teach her a lesson. Teach her a lesson. Teach her a lesson," (71).
This is a scene from the past as a indication the lack of qquotation marks. This is the method Attwood shows us what is present and what is past. In a sense The present is outloud, the past is remembered, so therefore the lak of quotations. Also, this has a purpose. This was placed in here to show just how powerful the society was. How much control it has on it's citizens this is an example of what training centers was like, where they all trained to be Handmaids. It's like Handmaid's school. Another example of Dialogue is as follows:
"'we should go back,' I say to ofglen," (42).
This quote is present day and not indeed a flashback. The quotation marks is present. This is not just remembered but said outloud. This is to show their ceremonial way of doing things and how she interacts with her handmaid partner.
And yet there is more ways to give suttle things to the reader besides dialogue and by showing and telling.
Narrator is central t the story, more so then the last two building blocks of the novel. This determines from whose perspective do we look at the world, whose mind do we inhabit, whose mood do we get to observe, and how much we know about things. Atwood' novel is in First person with sentences such as, "I get up out of the chair, advanced my feet in to the sunlight, in their red shoes, plat-heeled to save the spine and not for dancing," (7). This is first person, and from Offred's point of view, the main character, who's a handmaid. In this POV we don't know everything. We can not get in to say the masters head, or know what everyone is doing across this world. We only know what it is like to be her, and a handmaid. We get an idea what it is like to be the rest, but the clearest is her experiences. We only get an idea of the rest through her, and her, opinions and perceptions. She is a reliable narrator because we see what she sees and she's sane, and just tells it from her account. We get many pictures of her perspectives such as "I wonder what has become of the other two cushions," (109). This is no surprise as the reader is in the head of the narrator and we get this. This is normal, because we have access to her thoughts. And, just as naturally we get an idea how she feel as in "I feel drugged. I consider this: maybe they're drugging me," (108). This is the narration style Atwood has chosen. These are some of the building blocks that are suttly there to help the story move along and the tools in the toolbox of the writers.
A writer has many tricks in the trick bag. As a good writer it is important to learn to use them and to know what they are. These tools are essential to write a good story, while the readers of fiction who are just reading for fun may not be able to name them, if the story is a mess and doesn't have good development of these tools it can be sensed. So, this is why it is important to be aware of these tools and be able to use them.