A writer’s imagination in fiction opens the gates to creating great literary stories. To shape great literary stories, authors master skillful characterization and apply centuries-proved story structures that have matured from creative writers of the past—Tolstoy, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Bronte(s), Sophocles, Hemingway, Faulkner, and so many others.
Most writers today want to realize their dreams of a writer’s life style and acclaim; they write for admiration, fame, and fortune. Nothing wrong with that; it’s a path to happy successful careers for many. But some authors want to create meaningful stories that might contribute to understanding the constantly-evolving humanity, stories that are read and reread and passed onto future generations. Homer, Austen, Conrad, Melville, Forster, Woolf, transmit the soul of their generations with lasting, penetrating impact, and for example, by uniquely portraying thoughts and emotions, nature of love, core human desires, sense of morality–all with drama, imagery, and action.
How can a writer today achieve memorable meritorious stories? Study the techniques of the storytellers of the past that are indelibly etched in the collective human consciousness. Discover elements of powerful lasting literary stories that work for you as an author and incorporate those elements into your writing and storytelling.
Stories are about events and people. In great literature, story frequently reveals not only what happens but how humans live and how life changes them. There are no secret formulas but there are commonalities that generate power for stories to move and evolve with mankind into future generations. Here are elements for thought.
1) WRITE WITH PURPOSE. As you write, search what is in you that drives you to write your story. A purpose clarifies prose, scenes, characters, narration, point of view and plot that become more focused and unified, especially in revision.
2) THEME AND MEANING. Theme is recurrent idea; meaning is significant ideas. What can a reader learn from reading that is new and significant?
3) CHANGE. Characters change as stories progress and so do readers after
reading a great story. Change examples: enlightenment (discovery or experience a new way of thinking), a shift in morality, a reversal, coming of age, etc.
4) DRAMA. Show in-scene dramatic conflict and action when possible. Abstract and static descriptions of character and scene (telling) are necessary but often less effective in developing characterization.
5) UNIQUE AND FASCINATING CHARACTERS. Core desires, abilities, imagination, motivations, sense of morality, strong vivid worldview.
6) STRUCTURE. 1) Beginning, middle, end. 2) Carefully-considered timeline. 3) character-based plots. 4) Emotional arcs. 5) Logical and credible happenings sequenced for story unity.
READ the complete essay here: Mastering the Power of a Literary Fictional Story
You can find more information about LEARNING TO WRITE LITERARY FICTION here: www.storyinliteraryfiction.com.
And thanks for reading!
William H Coles