All terms

What is a Digression?

A temporary departure from the main subject matter.

Wandering Words: An Exploration of Digressions in Writing

When it comes to the art of creative writing, sometimes it can be hard to stay on track. Digressions, however, can offer a refreshing break from the main subject matter and unlock new avenues of expression for writers.

Also known as deviations or tangents, digressions take writers off the beaten path, allowing them to delve into topics they might not have considered otherwise. A skilled writer can use these detours to add depth and nuance to their work, making the story or essay all the more captivating.

But as with any literary technique, it's important not to overdo it. Too many digressions can confuse or frustrate readers, leaving them wondering what the main point of the piece was in the first place. When using this technique, it's important to make sure that each tangent serves a purpose and relates to the overall theme or narrative in some way.

In the end, digressions may seem like a minor detail, but they can have a big impact on the storytelling experience. So the next time you find yourself straying from the main path, embrace the opportunity to explore new territory - you never know where the journey might lead!

Wandering Words: Digressions in Action

Here are two examples of how digressions have been used effectively in literature:

The Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne

This classic novel is perhaps the ultimate example of digression done right. The narrator, Tristram Shandy, spends pages talking about seemingly inconsequential topics, such as the spelling of his name and his father's hobby of winding up clocks. Despite this, the novel remains engaging thanks to Sterne's inventive prose style and the sense that anything could happen next.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

In Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, there are several places where the narrative digresses from the main story to provide background about the setting, the characters, or the social issues at play. One of the most memorable digressions comes in the form of the extended flashback where Scout imagines what it must be like to be Boo Radley, the reclusive neighbor she has never seen.