Drucker’s Diagrammatic Writing discusses different forms of diagrammatic writing while using those strategies in its explanations. One of my favorite strategies was the use of surrounding a paragraph with other paragraphs to create a trapped or smaller feel to the contained dialogue. It changes the feel and impact of the words–they are coming from somewhere specific, rather than just text on a page. Context and placement impact the reception of the words. I also enjoyed the ability to have dialogue with your own writing. You can have a line stating something, then have another line commenting on it using footnotes, smaller lines between the larger lines, or side columns. I could use that for a character’s internal dialogue: the character could state something as a fact, then express self-doubt in smaller text beside it. I found this book genuinely fun, it reminded me of free form poetry.
Egan’s Great Rock n’ Roll Pauses is about a family and their relationships with one another. The protagonist, a twelve year old named Alison, describes her parents’ pasts, family dynamics, and the past couple of days through slide shows. The slides use colors, grouped words, spacing, arrows, shapes, and dialogue side-by-side to provide visuals for the scene and the pacing of the story. Alison’s father Drew struggles to connect with Alison’s brother Lincoln and doesn’t understand Lincoln’s obsession with the pauses in his favorite songs. Alison’s mother Sasha is more private about her past, though Alison repeatedly asks about the death of her mother’s friend. Her father is more open about the past, but is dealing with the stress of losing a patient. Conflict arises when Drew snaps at Lincoln while he is talking about music. Sasha explains to Drew the significance of the pauses in songs, and Drew and Alison go for a walk through the desert. Drew expresses that he wishes to do better.
I personally love the way the story presents dialogue between characters. Having each line of dialogue appear in a separate bubble connected to other bubbles creates an interesting rhythm and visuals. It almost makes the conversations feel more natural, they’re just things a father and daughter would say when walking through a desert together. I also enjoyed how Great Rock n’ Roll presented characters’ thought processes, like how it showed how Lincoln wants to show that he loves his dad by sharing his interests with him. The story also used colors and some shapes to present the visuals of a scene, like the desert, without actually putting a picture of a desert in the slides. The presence or absence of color and dialogue added to the immersion and impact of the story.