Nat Case hedberg at
Fri Jan 28 11:04:46 EST 2000

"If rules make a framework to climb around in, why not climb right out, says
the Sage of Theare"

Just to bring this back on topic... :>)

I think the audience may simply have been befuddled. I think its a shyness
thing: if you set up a performance so the audience KNOWS they're supposed to
be involved, they'll happily respond (folk music concerts, night club
dancing, etc.). If they don't expect it, it can be like a junior high dance
where nobody dances because they don't think they know HOW to dance. In
theater, you have to make it clear from the start that they will be expected
to react other than with applause and laughter, or make the punching through
of the fourth walll a kind of game (as in SKIN OF OUR TEETH). Throwing a
curveball like that can be a lot of fun, but it may also take people aback. 

>From: Alice Jane Cooley <ajcooley at>
>To: dwj at
>Subject: Re: soliloquies
>Date: Thu, Jan 27, 2000, 9:44 PM

>Oh, Elise, I'm so glad you put the word "should" in quotation marks! One of my
>most deep-seated annoyances with creative writing instructions is when people
>trot out ideas like this and call them RULES. My own particular grievance is
>against the "rule" that in prose description, Simplest is Best. These things
>are not RULES; they are STYLES. Maybe it's a petty distinction to insist upon
>-- they are the styles that are most popular in modern writing, and perhaps one
>hasn't a hope of being published or produced without adhering to them, but
>still I balk at referring to such things as "rules". It's such a historically
>limited view (surely there must be a jargon term for that: recentocentric?
>chronological chauvinism?). I mean, great novelists haven't always adhered to
>the Simplest is Best rule, for Heaven's sake, nor playwrights to the Show Don't
>Tell rule. I think this is a similar problem to the one which Wolverton's
>excellent article addresses.
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