Unfortunately, I've never run across anything up to scratch. So, I am going to write one. Or at least write one entry for one and then try slowly to add more entries over time. (If any readers out there want to suggest future entries, even just point out something that seems like it might be a technique, let me know and I might write about it).
So here's my first entry (with example), inspired by my current read, Jaimy Gordon's NBA-winning Lord of Misrule:
The Generalized Categorical
Definition: a reference to an unknown, abstract category or condition. Primarily used to describe a specific, elusive quality.
"But she sensed a thread had been dropped somewhere, the route to some secret heart of this business had been lost"
"Was she some sort of born slave herself, a prostitute in a temple, a hierodule?"
The generalized categorical posits the existence of a class to suggest the membership of the described person, behavior, or condition within that class. In first example, the existence of "some secret heart" ratifies the character's sense "that a thread had been lost somewhere." The generalized categorical need not exist for its descriptive function to work, and indeed it often functions with the reader's express knowledge that it does not.
Consider an slight alteration to "the route to a secret heart of this business had been lost": the switch to the indefinite article moves the sentence into the realm of the actual, rather than the realm of the possible. This leveraging of possibility also invokes a sense of indeterminacy and unknowability; in the above examples, this uncertainty seems at least as important as the specific descriptors.
Any other thoughts on the Generalized Categorical? I'm also thinking about writing a taxonomy of dialogue formats: with and without quotations marks, with dashes, embedded in to paragraphs, etc. So if you can think of a good example of an unusual dialogue format, I'd be really interested to hear about it.
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