Niagara Falls All Over Again (published in 2001) is a well-crafted novel written by Elizabeth McCracken. In the space of two and a half pages, the author uses several techniques to pull the reader into the story.
Early in the novel, the author describes an accident as it is occuring, but she suspends the action before the impact.
Mose waits: “I waited for her to land in my arms. I waited to learn the trick.”
As readers, we are held there, in that moment of suspension, for a little over a page while the narrator, an older Mose, telling the story many years later, reflects on the loss ensuing from that day. Then, after a space break, the author takes us back to the day after the accident. She shows Mose being helped into his shirt by his father. Mose is trying to “sneak the casts on my wrists down the sleeves.”
Then we go into Mose’s thoughts: “Two steps closer, and I would have caught her. I was certain of this. She fell into my hands, and then my wrists gave way. I tried to remember the feel of her silk dress rushing past my palms, but I couldn’t.”
So the reader does the work. Oh, we think, so….
We are not told: He broke his wrists. He couldn’t catch her. Instead, we see Mose trying to get dressed with cumbersome casts on his wrists. The power of showing and not telling. Then we go into the character’s head to see how he’s reacting to what happened. We feel it as he does.