Are you a storyteller?

Every living human has a story to tell, and most believe they’ll get around to it someday… and if they get around to it, they’ll be blissfully successful even if totally unaware of what a story is and how difficult it is to do well. Of course, stories can be how you want to think they are–memoirs, essay, non-fiction, history, character sketches, creative journalism, diary entries, or even letters, but the literary story (a written work that is considered lasting and of artistic merit) has proven to be the most long-lasting written form for the last few centuries. It’s one … Read More…

What EM Forster taught us about flat and round characters and how to use it.

In Aspects of the Novel (1927), EM Forster wrote ideas, now cherished by many writers, about flat and round characters. Here are highlights of ideas expressed in the book. Flat characters, in pure form, are constructed around a single idea or quality, are so consistent without change that they are easily recognized and remembered, may be summed up in a few words. not as great achievements as round characters, and are best when comic rather than tragic.  Contrary to many contemporary thinkers, flat characters are very useful to authors; they “never need reintroducing, never run away, have not to be … Read More…

Keep readers involved when writing literary fiction stories

If you write a literary story to engage, involve, and enlighten receptive readers, you should (1) as an author, know the story world well and create characters from their unique worldviews (2) create a narrator who is of the story world, not you the author, (the author creates the narrator with that narrator’s unique worldview, experiences, and memory). Author as narrator is a habit that constricts creativity and promotes narrative description from a fixed reality rather than creating with imagination in a literary fiction story. Imagined and creative storytelling inspires mystery, suspense, pending discovery, moral perplexity, and surprise in the … Read More…

Fictional Dream, Literary Style, and Storytelling.

Improve writing of fiction stories. Literature (written works of superior, lasting quality as an “art form” and fiction (imagined story and characters) are specific concepts that vitalize a writer to engage, entertain, and enlighten readers and achieve acceptance and endearment of the writer as storyteller and master of written works. Engagement of a reader is a beneficial authorial achievement; invariably readers enjoy and learn from stories they feel a part of. To improve the skill, writers must find and correct individual strengths and weaknesses compatible with their style. No golden rules exist; but essential creative ideas abound in the talented … Read More…

How funny are you?

How funny are you? Do you make people smile and laugh? Is anyone void of humor? For fiction writers, these are not trivial questions. A literary writer builds and molds character to an imagined story. Since most characters need some aspect of humor, what is humor all about for a writer? I  interviewed  two comedy professionals (husband and wife): Kevin Nealon, film actor, TV (Weeds, Man with a Plan), standup comedian, and in cast of Saturday Night Live (1986–1995, 174 episodes) and creator of memorable characters such as Hans, Mr. Subliminal, and Weekend Edition; Susan Yealey, television actor and show … Read More…

Mastering the Power of Literary Story

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 structure that has matured from creative writers of the past. Most writers today dream of a writer’s life style and acclaim; they write for admiration, fame and fortune. Nothing wrong with that; it brings successful careers for many. But some writers want to create stories that last into future generations and will provide understanding of  the constantly-evolving meaning of being human. Literary fiction stories can uniquely portray thoughts and emotions, nature of love, core … Read More…

Creating great scenes in literary fiction without excessive, ineffective, detail!

In fiction storytelling, creating setting is tertiary to dramatic plot and characterization and needs to contribute to the story. Therefore, for best and succinct effects, setting should have momentum and evoke image. Compare these two descriptions: The locomotive with colorful cars behind followed the track that snaked through the valley. No momentum or concrete images–basically ineffective. Now: The steam of the locomotive reddened the face of the engineer as he leaned out the window. The track curved many times ahead. He wondered, as the clouds gathered, if the printed banners with the czar’s name flapping above the red, green and … Read More…

Achieve character-driven plots in literary fiction.

To be admired and be successful, literary writers need the skill of developing character-driven plots, important because the purpose of literary fiction is to provide new awareness or reawakening in the reader about something significant–-i.e. meaning–usually what it means to be human. To nurture significance in a story that is character-driven, the character should be created through action and description so the literary-story plot makes its interesting turns from the character’s strengths and weaknesses, desires and motivations. In the great literary story, the character always changes. Something happens that will never allow character to be as they were before (an … Read More…

Genre Disses Contemporary Literary Fiction

At a recent writers’ workshop-conference for thriller and mystery writers taught by two bestselling authors in their genres, the state of contemporary literary fiction was dissed as being self-serving and small. Who wants to hear about another dysfunctional family or an abusive childhood, or my extraordinary recovery from drug addiction? Why is there no resolution in literary fiction? (There is often no conflict.) Why is contemporary literary fiction always, in some way, about me, the author, without objective storytelling and characterization? Most literary-fiction writers in the audience silently agreed–a majority of academically-trained literary writers fail to create adequate stories . … Read More…

To revise a fiction story, apply fixes judiciously and consider significant change.

The flood threatens! Noah needs an arc. He hires a carpenter who constructs a roughly-shaped wooden cube 120 feet high, wide, and deep. To know the front of the arc, Noah has a figure of a maiden sculpted in flowing robes that is attached to a corner of the cube’s top and tilted forward, hair flowing, as if in a strong wind. Great. The bow! Now Noah needs an aft. He fastens a discarded wagon wheel  to the side of the arc opposite the maiden. Jumping Jehovah! The stern! And for passenger access, he cuts a large-diameter circle on the … Read More…