Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Right Brain/Left Brain, as it applies to writing

Knowing yourself is an important part of writing.  When we understand how the  right brain and left brain work, it helps to identify just what kind of writer we are.  Here is an explanation (the way I see it) of how the brain works in relation to writing.

Right Brain/Left Brain

The tendency to lean in one direction or the other is fundamental to the human condition.  The right brain appears to control the functions of the left side of the body (more liberal, change-oriented); the left side of the brain appears to control the functions of the body’s right side (conservative).

In writing, we can relate the right brain to scene and the left brain to summary.

Here are some opposites that fall under each heading:

The Left Side                       The Right Side

Linear                                                            Non-linear

Logical                                                          Intuitive

Verbal                                                            Visual

Traditional                                                    Unconventional

Detailed                                                         Abstract

Technical/mathematical                              Artistic

Orderly                                                          Spontaneous

Extreme – too little movement, rigid          Extreme – too much movement, chaos

As writers, our task is to integrate these two sides of the brain.  In the same manner, we intersperse our stories with scene and summary.
My next blog will focus entirely on scene and summary.
Catherine Alexander




Sunday, February 10, 2013

Romantic Anthology

Love Hurts Anthology:  21 Humorous Stories

Eric Bosarge has just released on Amazon a new anthology of romantic stories in time for Valentines.  I'm delighted that he has chosen to include my story, Walter and Gabriella, on page 175.

Monday, February 4, 2013

What is Literary Fiction?

Some might define literary fiction as something they read in English lit classes as opposed to the grocery checkout line.  But what exactly is literary fiction?

Style, for one thing.  Voice is a big part of style.  That voice should be compelling, original and grab the reader from the beginning.

Language matters. Tightly-honed sentences, individual phrasing and paragraphs that flow are all part of style.  The use of timing helps.  Authentic, crisp dialogue also contributes to literary quality. 

Literary fiction is more than simply telling a story.  A great adventure is fine, but literary fiction gives reader a deeper look at human experience.

Generally, literary fiction focuses on character development and to a lesser degree on plot.    Symbolism (metaphors and similes) and sensory detail provide a glimpse into the characters' world.

However, if the work does not contain a plot, it won't hold the attention of the reader.  Narrative movement is essential.  This keeps the story together from start to finish.  It's the glue to making it work.  The first, middle and ending must must stay on course.  The crucial part is what matters in the story, and the writer has to build around that.

I'd like to consider myself a literary fiction writer.  But achieving that goal is an ongoing process.

Here is a short list of what I would consider literary fiction.  (Far from complete and in no particular order.)
       Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson

 Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes

 Staring at the Sun, by Julian Barnes

 Invisible by Paul Auster

 New York Trilogy by Paul Auster

 The Bear Comes Home by Rafi Zabor

 Tripmaster Monkey by Maxine Hong Kingston

 Call It Sleep by Henry Roth

 The Red and the Black by Stendhal

       Slaughter-House Five by Kurt Vonnegut

 Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence

 Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz (first of a trilogy)

 Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
       Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

 The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murskami

 The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

 The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino
       Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

       Possession by A.S. Byatt

       Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively

       Beloved by Toni Morrison

Progress On My Second Novel

The main problem in my second novel is drawing out the female protagonist. She is 21, admitted to a psych ward of a hospital after a suicide...