Archive for August 2020

Condiments Enliven the Meal   7 comments

Does anyone write stream of consciousness or capers anymore, or has the Hollywood hero’s journey ruined that?

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A Word about Capers

Go check out PJ MacLayne’s Harmony Dupree series of capers on Amazon. Clearly someone is still writing them and someone must also be reading them, and how fortunate are we that a member of our blog hop is the author of several capers?

As for Stream of Consciousness

One of the key moments of my high school English career was diagramming a 27-page sentence in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom. Ms. Stithem’s Analysis of Literature offered extra credit if we did it, so I did. It was a technically grammatical sentence, but … why? Seriously. Why? Because he could? Faulkner was a great writer, but gimmicks like this — while securing his place in literary history — don’t necessarily make for good reading. I don’t remember the book. I know I had to have read it because I got an A on my analysis of it and the extra credit for diagramming the sentence (me and Mark Greenwald), but I don’t remember the content of the book, so — yeah — gimmicks are a problem.

We also read James Joyce’s Ulysses in that class and I also got a good grade in my analysis of it. And that made a bit more sense because it was interior monologue, attempting to show (as Virginia Woolf meant to do when she pioneered the technique) the way the human mind actually works. We rarely think in a straight-line narrative. We almost always flit from thought to thought in a loose and tangential web of short-lived ideas even when we’re thinking about one specific topic. I do remember more of Ulysses, but I remember a great deal more of writers like Hemingway, who used narrative language beautifully and economically, and Dickens who also used narrative like lovely embroidery, though not nearly as spare as Hemingway.

This might explain the strength of the Hero’s Journey as a literary prop. I don’t wholly subscribe to the hero’s journey myself, but the narrative format of stories is as old as story-telling itself. The Illiad is a hero’s journey tale. While we may think in stream of consciousness, we prefer our stories to be in narrative format.

Because I don’t write to a formula, the hero’s journey doesn’t often come into my thoughts while drafting my novels, but certainly I use narrative format because I think readers find it more comfortable than stream of consciousness. I tend to use the hero’s journey as a measuring stick – Did something happen in the story? Was there change? Did I bring my character to a new base? Those are important questions, but I avoid the formula of adhering to the format, because I think it’s overused, and I don’t think humans (even characters) all go through the exact same motions..

Not Dead Yet

Do I think the hero’s journey is overused by Hollywood? Absolutely! Formula has its place, but this formula needs some freshening up. This is why I don’t think stream of consciousness is completely a dead art form and I don’t think we should denigrate it. It has its place, sometimes even among the hero’s journey.

As I said, I don’t write to the hero’s journey format, but I do write narrative literature. Still, there are times when a little stream of consciousness can show a character’s inner thoughts. Sprinkled lightly through narrative like a condiment, stream of consciousness can bring the reader into the character’s mind at a visceral level — provided you don’t overdue it, which I think most readers find frustrating, which is why you don’t see a lot of stream of conscious still being used. I am unaware of the novelists banging out 28-page sentences, at any rate.

If you like historical romances, one book where I found it done well was Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm. The character of Christian suffers a stroke that severely disables his ability to use and comprehend language and the stream of consciousness highlights that disability well. As he recovers, the author gradually backs off the stream of consciousness technique, showing the improvement rather than telling the reader he is improved. I found her technique so fascinating, I actually read a romance.

I think stream of consciousness is best used sparingly, in ways that make sense within a narrative format. I don’t see it necessarily at odds with the Hero’s Journey. They could, in fact, be used as partners to make writing stronger.

In fact, some stream of consciousness elements show up in my latest novel Winter’s Reckoning. I didn’t take it to Kinsale’s level (and certainly not to Joyce’s) but it was appropriate to the crisis Shane faces and so I explored it a little bit, like that bit of parsley on the side of your dinner plate — a condiment, not a feature.

Falling Inside the Black   Leave a comment

Open Book Blog Hop – First drafts   Leave a comment

Roberta Writes Blog Article.

Posted August 25, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

NVDT #54 – Self Editing, DRE and Logic   Leave a comment

Phil’s blog hop article

Posted August 24, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Race to the Finish #OpenBook Blog Hop   Leave a comment

Aug 24, 2020 Do you hurry through a first draft, or are you conscious of flaws as they go down? Has that changed over time? Have you ever heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? It happe…

Source: Race to the Finish #OpenBook Blog Hop

Posted August 24, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Open Book Blog Hop – 24th August   1 comment

Stevie Turner’s blog post

Posted August 24, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

The draft, getting it right the first time.   Leave a comment

Richard Dee’s blog post

Posted August 24, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Flaws in the Gems   9 comments

Aug 24, 2020

Do you hurry through a first draft, or are you conscious of flaws as they go down? Has that changed over time?

Rules:
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Either-or, black-or-white … you know me, I’m not going to answer with Door #? because, wow, short article.

Letting the Characters Lead

I don’t really think about much when writing my first draft. I have a destination in mind and it’s usually a story my characters have told me while washing dishes or filing. I invite them to run to that destination and then I just try to keep up while they tell me what happens along the way. There’s lots of flaws – passive voice sentences, some misspellings, a lot of typos, scenes that are described in bare detail, dialogue that goes on too long, sometimes scenes out of sequence. Oh, yeah, there’s plenty of flaws and I’m aware of some and don’t care about others.

Looping Back

Occasionally, I’ll get stuck as I write and I have to go back and read what came before to decide what comes next and I become well aware of the flaws at that point. Sometimes I’ll correct them and sometimes I’ll let them go until self-editing. I might append a note so I will come back to it remembering what it was I didn’t like when I read it. I know the writing advice that says “don’t edit until you’ve finished the first draft,” but I think I’ve made it clear that I believe writing rules are helpful until they become dogmas and then they are meant to be broken.

Finding the Hidden Gem

If I’m lucky, I discover a flaw that is actually a gem. That’s how I end up with turns of phrase. I’ll mis-phrase something and then when I go back to edit I’ll pause and go — whoa, that’s — yeah, that’s good — so I keep it. The series name “What If Wasn’t” was such an error. I kept circling back to it during editing. There was just something about it that seemed wrong and, yet, it so succinctly summed up Peter’s life. When more of the series is published, it will make sense to readers.

So the answer to the question is — I try to stay focused on writing the first draft and not get distracted by editing, but sometimes, I have to reread a section and I might or might not fix errors I’m aware of. I’m not into dogmatic rules telling me how to write. My writing process is my own and it serves me well when I allow it to.

Am I conscious of the flaws as I write them? Sometimes. I often know that I need to improve a section of writing before publication, but then everything I write will be open to my scrutiny when I self-edit — just as if I were editing someone else’s book.

I’ve become less tolerant of errors as I’ve put my writing into the public eye. I work much harder to edit them out before publication. I don’t try to get everything down perfectly on the first draft because I’m letting my characters talk to me at that point, but yes, if I see an error and it really bothers me, I’ll fix it — or at least give it good consideration.

Posted August 24, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Sparrows   Leave a comment

Story Flow   Leave a comment

Magical World

Posted August 17, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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