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Creative Writers – do you know how to use inference? Learn how to use this valuable tool!
Creative Writers Use Inference to Say More by Saying Less
All creative writers use inference, whether by choice or by accident. So you may be thinking, “If I can do use it by accident, why should I study it? You need to study it until you are able to use inference at will.
This is inference:
Mary was in labor. A monkey was born.
A common tool in creative writing is the use of inference. On the surface, one could assume the following:
- A woman had mated with a monkey and got pregnant
- She went to the hospital to give birth
- Her baby wasn’t a child, it was a monkey
- It was a historical event
- This event would open new doors to the medical community and scientists
- The news media would hound the monkey child throughout its life
- Documentaries would undoubtedly be created
- A movie would be in the making
Thoughts would flood your mind. Did the woman go on a safari? Was she attacked by a monkey or an ape? Where was her husband? Or did she even have a husband? How will her family accept the monkey baby? One question would be whether the monkey baby had human characteristics?
Or, you could read it the way I was thinking when I wrote it: Mary was in labor, and she owned a monkey. Do you see what inference can do?
Mystery writers often drop clues that will lead their readers in the wrong direction. Other uses of inference could be in games and jokes.
Inference presents clues that can be misleading, and can therefore confuse the reader, which is the whole point. You can count on the reader’s mind jumping to a conclusion before it has all the proper facts. If the author has the inclination, he can change the mental picture within a sentence.
The bride collapsed in tears, and could not be consoled.
We might think:
- The groom didn’t show up for the wedding
- Someone dropped the wedding cake
- The organist or preacher could not be there
We could imagine all sorts of things, but what I’m actually thinking is that her father died of a heart attack during the wedding. But going from what I said, it is improbable that anyone would conclude the proper thing. The reader will infer their own meaning into the given evidence and come forth with their own conclusion. Using inference is easy; the trick is to learn to do it at will.
The use of inference is a powerful tool. You can infer that a man is in love with his best friend’s wife without ever saying it. The reader may think they are having an affair, and that hubby hasn’t learned about it yet. If you introduce a gun into the equation, you can infer someone is going to die as a result.
Use inference wisely to say a lot by saying less.