Monday, June 25, 2012

Literary Fiction is... well... literary

Authors of literary fiction focus on the art of writing as the main interest of the author and the reader. Literary artists write novels that have plot, but they are more concerned about creating a sort of onion effect. The more you read the story, the more you discover. As you peel away one layer of story, say the plot, you find a second story built around the theme. Read the story once for what happens. Go back to ask why. Another reading gets you thinking about how the author created such a beautiful, cohesive whole. You may enjoy the way the author developed the character as the story moved forward. The main character goes through a big change of some sort. Literary stories may or may not have a beginning, a middle and an end.

One example of an artistic onion layer can be found in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Read the novel a few times and you begin to see that all the characters equate to bulls or cows of one sort or another. That’s why the author spends so much time telling you about bullfighting and the different types of bulls. Gaining that understanding from a single reading is difficult. Knowing it helps to make the story come together for you.

Meanwhile… back to suspense/thriller novels
Serious writers of suspense/thriller novels or other genre fiction will tell you they do the same thing literary novelists do in creating character depth and layers of artistic merit. And they will point out that most literary authors actually write genre fiction. For example, Charles Dickens, if not the first author of a murder mystery novel, was certainly an early adapter of the genre. So what’s the difference for you as a reader?

The first rule is to find novels you enjoy. Read other novels written by the same author or authors. If you enjoy the classics, you may enjoy modern authors who pride themselves in writing “literary” novels. If you enjoy murder mysteries, read them.

The point is simply this: the better authors invest themselves in developing the literary quality of their work as well as entertaining you with a good plot. “Literary” authors generally are not concerned as much about plot as they are character and literary tradition. They mainly write for themselves as artists. They trust that literary readers will find their work.

Genre authors emphasize telling a compelling story within their genre to entertain their readers. Their stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. They know how to develop a character so you can empathize with her. They know how to make you weep or laugh. They are not afraid to kill off a character, but also recognize there are consequences to their actions. They know how to make you want to turn the page, something literary authors are less concerned about.

Read literary novels when you enjoy an author who plays with the language, writes poetically and provides insights into philosophy and why the world works the way it does. Read genre fiction when you want to enjoy a good tale well told.

And speaking of tales worth telling, please consider my suspense/thriller novel Fulfillment, click here for Amazon or click here for paperback.

Here’s another novel idea…
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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

based on true events

Hovering bedside, the demon started out in a playful mood.  He toyed with ideas of escape from imminent danger, entangled relationships from disparate social circles, and added a smattering of spooks and creeps where appropriate.  His specialty was not so much in blood and gore, but illusions of deformity, illness and the like.  He liked to throw in possessed children, depending on the dreamer.

This time she happened to be an insouciant waste of time.  She was one of those.  One of those who like to write on the side.  On the side, top, bottom and middle of their daily lives, they were unassuming emotional vampires, sucking the beauty and chaos out from any situation, as if they couldn't cope without arranging words to process the things that did and didn't happen.  Getting chills in her bed, she secretly lavished in the scared feeling.  Instead of waking up, forcing happy thoughts, or crying out to God, she seemed to be trying to actually
prolong the nightmare.  Could this be this right?  Along the edges of his consciousness, the demon began to suspect that she was working out descriptions of characters and setting from what she saw.  Infuriated that the writer was using even this opportunity to cultivate plot fodder for scenes of her next book, shook her awake with a loud shriek and dissipated out of the room.
The demon returned with new strategies, worse images.  But the woman in her fear, welcomed it and would wake up to begin writing furiously before the details tapered out.  This of course challenged the demon even more....

Sometimes our muses aren't friendly.  I was thinking, that writers make muses out of anything, seizing upon facts, thoughts, events, all the time with a persistent ulterior motive: in part, to exploit them as material for their writing. Whether it be the experience of a nightmare, a loved one's financial or health struggles, romances of all kinds, etc., we are opportunists of all we encounter whether or not we like it.

What do you think?  Are we vampires?