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…

Rate and Logic in Revealing Story information in Literary Fiction

All writing conveys information and, in fiction stories, how and when information is revealed impacts the understanding of the story as well as shapes points of expectation and installs suspense and credibility. Little Red Riding Hood is essentially a story about predators of children, about how children must: obey their parents, know the dangers of world, and never speak to strangers. The story has many forms, all have persisted for more than a century because crucial dramatic information is revealed that delivers meaning with impact, an essential element in this story’s longevity. Compare these two examples. (1) Little red Riding … Read More…

A Prescription for Creating Great Literary Fiction

Fiction writers imagine. And it’s in the realm of the imagination that stories and characters are not stifled by the constraints of describing real people and real events. Fiction creates its own “reality” with purpose to create meaningful, engaging, unique stories. BASICS Literature is written work considered to have lasting artistic merit. Fiction is imagined events and people. IDEA Great literary stories that last for generations have hard-to-achieve imagined and created elements for characterization and plot development that will shape the thoughts, memory, and even actions of readers. ELEMENTS 1) Character-based story. In essence, literature stories are about people. Great … Read More…

To be … and when not to be … in developing literary style.

The delight of a reader of literary fiction is often affected by a writer’s use of “to be” as an auxiliary verb.  Authors need skill in recognizing what is best for their stories and the readers they want to engage.  Intuition alone–without desire, hard-work experience, and talent–is rarely effective. ACTIVE/PASSIVE voices (transitive verbs) In active voice, action focuses on the doer of the action, while the passive voice focuses on the action itself. Active voice requires two (or more) participants: the subject of the sentence doing the action, and a recipient of the action. Jake (subject) threw the ball (object … Read More…

Errant simile and erosion of literary style

Writing literary-fiction stories is two opposite yet creative desires competing with each other: (1) to develop strong stories with unique characters racing through a dramatic plot to provide engagement, entertainment and enlightenment, (2) to showcase the power of the written word in the glory of language and its imaginative use for reflection, enjoyment, and enlightenment. Here’s the problem: the use of metaphoric simile is like hiring a bikini-clad beauty-queen to play point-guard for the NBA’s Boston Celtics; it would draw attention of most fans but almost surely wouldn’t be effective for team-winning. In essence, the trick of simile-use in fiction … Read More…

Want to write a literary story that lasts?

Consider this. Characterization vs. character development. Stories about humans require characterization–gender, appearance, background, abilities. But in literary fictional stories, the characters also develop–they change their emotional and intellectual souls, as well as their desires and motivations, which are instrumental in plot progression (character-based plot). Dramatization. Drama is conflict that results in action and resolution and is essential for plot but also advances character. Opportunities for conflict prevail at many levels of telling a story—plot, scene, dialog, prose, imagery, etc. and character development is most effective in dramatized story action rather than passive narrator-telling. Note how clear plot conflicts contribute to … Read More…