Parentheses in Fiction: Do They Break the Fourth Wall?

Definitely to be avoided (in fiction)

Writers After Dark

parenthesis in fiction

I like to use parentheses (you know, to share my extra thoughts and stuff). But only in non-formal situations (like blog-writing). In fiction, however, I avoid it like a plague. And I realize that may just be a personal preference, since I feel it would pull my readers out of the world I spent so long creating. So I thought I’d ask my editor, Lynda Dietz, her professional opinion on the matter. Here’s what she had to say:



Breaking the fourth wall:
 this stems from a theatrical term. The “fourth wall” is where the audience sits—they’re basically looking “through” it when viewing a traditional stage with three sides. If an actor spoke a line directly to the audience, he broke the wall, removing that separation.

I think one of the toughest things for a writer must be finding a way to say everything he wants to say while keeping…

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2 thoughts on “Parentheses in Fiction: Do They Break the Fourth Wall?

  1. Seems like another one of those guidelines-presented-as-rules situations. Moderation in all punctuations, yo.

    And I don’t know about you, but I always looked forward to Sir Pterry’s footnotes/digressions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have no logical reason why, but I much prefer footnotes as per P’terry to parentheses. Maybe because he was so good at them (as was Douglass Adams) and it always felt like a relevant side-note even though it was a technical break from the narrative?

      Liked by 1 person

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