What is the meaning of telling a story transparently, https://www.masterclass.com/classes/joyce-carol-oates-teaches-the-art-of-the-short-story ?

telling a story transparently

2 Answers 2


... way is that you're telling a story very transparently...

It means to tell a story in a way that is easily understood.

Transparently - easily understood, obvious.


Transparent (adj): 2. If a situation, system, or activity is transparent, it is easily understood or recognized. - Collins English dictionary


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    I actually checked longman before I asked this question ldoceonline.com/dictionary/transparent but longman only said " if something is transparent, you can see through it" and that was why I don't understand in the context of telling a story. But now I understood. Thanks. Apr 1, 2020 at 8:21
  • @Qiulang That is not my understanding. To tell something "transparently", to me means to tell it honestly, giving all the facts and, above all not hiding anything.
    – WS2
    Apr 1, 2020 at 8:28
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    @WS2 But if you check the video she didn't seem to mean telling a story honestly. Apr 1, 2020 at 8:30
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    @Qiulang You are right and I apologise for the short-sightedness of my comment. I have looked at the figurative uses in the OED. I think I was preoccupied with sense 2a, but perhaps what we are seeing here is 2b.
    – WS2
    Apr 1, 2020 at 8:49

The OED lists various figurative uses of the term transparent. I believe what we are seeing here is an example of 2b.

  1. figurative.

a. Frank, open, candid, ingenuous. 1600 W. Shakespeare Midsummer >Night's Dream >ii. >ii. 110 Transparent Helena, nature shewes arte, That through thy bosome, makes me see thy heart. 1635 Ld. Carew in Lismore Papers (1888) 2nd Ser. III. 217 They are very well beloued for their ciuill and transparent carriage towards all sorts.

1878 T. Hardy Return of Native I. i. iv. 81 An ingenuous, transparent life was disclosed.

1891 E. Peacock Narcissa Brendon II. 306 She was transparent as the daylight.

b. Easily seen through, recognized, understood, or detected; manifest, evident, obvious, clear. Cf. apparent adj. 3.

1597 W. Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet i. ii. 93 Then turne teares to fire, And these who often drownde could neuer die, Transparent Heretiques be burnt for liers. 1638 W. Chillingworth Relig. Protestants i. ii. §150. 111 Your Argument against us, is a transparent fallacy.

1710 R. Steele Tatler No. 197. ⁋5 In Courts, they make transparent Flatterers.

1867 E. A. Freeman Hist. Norman Conquest I. v. 347 A transparent artifice..paralyses them.

1869 J. Martineau Ess. Philos. & Theol. 2nd Ser. 178 The fallacy of the remark is transparent.

1879 J. McCarthy Hist. our Own Times II. xviii. 37 The transparent sincerity of his purpose.

  • Thanks! I wish I can give both of you an accept check. On a different subject. I don't have a copy of ODE, but I read the book "the professor and the madman" and knew ODE uses the quotes from all kinds of books to show the word usage. And it is the first time I really saw that. Thanks! :D Apr 1, 2020 at 9:01
  • @Qiulang The original book was called The Surgeon of Crowthorne by Simon Winchester. (It just so happens to be the village where I live). The film was called The professor and the madman. Perhaps they also published a book by that name which you read. Unfortunately the OED's on-line service requires a paid subscription. We are fortunate in the UK in that many of our municipal libraries hold subscriptions so we can access it from home by way of our library cards. But it is undoubtedly the leading authority on the English language as it is spoken worldwide, and its history.
    – WS2
    Apr 1, 2020 at 10:40
  • @Qiulang The book version runs to about 27 volumes!
    – WS2
    Apr 1, 2020 at 10:45
  • Yes, "the professor and the madman" mentioned that! So even I could access ODE I am not sure I want to read it :$ I usually use longman, ldoceonline.com/dictionary/ to look up a word. Longman dictionary is good enough for me! Apr 1, 2020 at 11:32
  • @Qiulang It is OED. I think ODE is something else.
    – WS2
    Apr 1, 2020 at 14:08

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