Short Powerful Vignettes (Analyzing The Winner's Crime)

I recently read The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski.  So good!

One thing I really liked about Rutkoski's writing is how she layers together small scenes that offer bits of insight into the characters.

For example, this passage from Winner's Crime.  A short 3 paragraph scene.

Kestrel’s father inspected the puppy. He gripped the scruff of its neck and held it stock-still. He lifted the surprisingly big paws. He held the muzzle and peeled back the pink-and-black lips to see the teeth.
“That’s a good dog,” he said finally. “You’ll have to train her.”
No, Kestrel decided. She didn’t.

The scene doesn't really advance the plot, but it's a really telling moment that reveals something about Kestrel's relationship with her father.  I like how Rutkoski didn't feel any need to pad the scene with anything extra.  There's nothing about the father coming into the room, seeing the puppy, leaving the room afterwards. It's just got the key conversation. It enough conveys what it needs to, and it trusts the reader to fill in the blanks.

There are many of scenes like this in the series.  They're not all as short as the one I quoted, but they're short, powerful vignettes, that when taken together create a really layered feel for the characters and relationships.  It's a neat way to structure a story.  There are certainly long scenes that move the plot along, but there are also many short scenes with the extraneous details removed, leaving just the meat and emotion of the moment.

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