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Write More of What You Know

Write More of What You Know

I’ve been thinking about this topic again and I should add some stuff. It’s not enough to take your visual experiences, deconstruct them and rebuild them into what you need for the setting of your story. As important as that is, you need to do more. You remember a lot more than the places you’ve been from your childhood on. You remember people, you remember personalities, attitudes, expressions, language. All those things are grist to the mill. Settings built out of bits of what you’ve seen are only there in your story to provide a background for your characters, and your …

Imagery

Imagery

I’ve been thinking about the settings that novels use. In my own stuff, I see a basic dichotomy in imagery, a polarization between positive and negative settings whether it’s a city setting of alleys and parks or a more natural one of forest and farm. And since I know that I use imagery to reveal characters’ feelings, I want to talk about how that works. I use the natural world as a kind of objective correlative for feelings, and I think that sort of image use gets into everything from literature to the kind of world we build for ourselves. Think …

Metaphor

Posted on 3 min read 134 views

I’ve been thinking about metaphor. But to talk about it, I have to at least mention simile. As I understand it, a simile is simply a comparison: something is like something else. And usually, at least in literature, similes are used to link something concrete to something abstract, like a feeling or an idea. Although there’s a big difference between a rose and a feeling, a simile can suggest what the feeling is like by comparing it with the rose. For example: My love is like a red, red rose. Something of how we respond to roses, their beauty, their colour, …

Literature and Identity

Literature and Identity

Reading fiction provides a foundation that initiates in us greater awareness of ourselves and of our culture; that helps to liberate us from provincialism;  that provides the potential for personal growth that leads to identity. We learn through familiarity, through repeated exposure, and it’s important to expose ourselves to the best that has been thought and said. Such exposure fosters open-mindedness and a respect for the integrity of systems of thought. Exposure to literature helps alleviate our own moral ambiguity by developing in us a disinclination to accept a relativism which tends to ignore moral issues. If we learn by example, …

Plot

Plot

I was listening to the radio a while ago and heard a writer talking about plotting a novel, a crime novel. He stressed the fact that he wrote out scene details on pieces of paper, different colours for different sub plots, and stuck them up all over the walls of the room he wrote in. He spent some time rearranging them periodically to see how the parts balanced and to discover what the order should be. He said, as well, that many writers use the technique. All of this was news to me.  I don’t plot anything, and I don’t use …

Narrative

Posted on 4 min read 60 views

Narrative is simply the flow of time in a novel or short story. Sounds simple, but it’s not, really. Writers can shrink time, stretch it out, make it bigger (more significant), make it smaller (less significant), fracture it, bend it, turn it upon itself, and so on. Writers can do whatever they want with time in the interests of story. The one thing time isn’t is linear and progressive.  Well, it is but it isn’t. It’s progressive in the sense that cause and effect can’t function if it isn’t linear. If any act carries consequences, then those consequences must be laid …

Which Person?

Which Person?

Which person, first or third, works best? I suppose it depends on the writer and what’s being written, but for mystery writers person poses a problem. Here’s where I run into just that kind of situation. Let’s say I’m about to write a section that involves two people equally; that is, both have the same weight in the scene. The rule for point of view is that only one of them can be dominant; that is, the scene should be seen though the dominant person’s eyes only. If the writer is using  first-person narration there isn’t a problem. Every scene is …