Archive for February, 2017

What would you do if you had a chance to, right now, start your life again? Article About Writing Better

Monday, February 20th, 2017
William H. Coles

What have you achieved? Is it what you wanted? Are you satisfied? Here's the idea. On occasion, life forces new directions that demand a new “you.” How would you make a better "you"?  Take this example of a doctor at the top of his profession who loses all and changes who he is to survive. Literary fiction can show significant change by creating dramatic stories with theme and meaning. Here's an example of how. (Excerpt from the award-winning novel "McDowell."

Hiram McDowell is an arrogant, proud doctor. He's ignored and stomped on a lot of innocent people, failed to value friendships, and failed in love and family, but he's listed in the top two hundred of America's most influential people. Then he's accused of a felonious death, goes to prison, escapes, and survives as a criminal fugitive. Here's a glimpse of his new life–a desolate wilderness country-scene in a Montana farm house where a family with a disabled child has taken him in. The experience changes who he will become.

On a summer evening after dinner, Selena came out from her bedroom in an ankle-length white nightgown, barefoot, carrying a hand-blown glass bowl partially filled with water. She sat on a three-legged stool. Maud closed her book and laid it on the floor by the chair. “Pops,” she called to the kitchen. Pops came out and sat in a chair at the table. Selena’s freshly washed and dried long hair glowed with a youthful golden radiance. With slow deliberation, she dipped the fingers of her right hand in the water inside the transparent glass vessel on her lap and she began slowly circling the rim until a sound emerged, course and variable at first but with a quick adjustment, even and constant with a strange ethereal quality. She sang with a single tone in perfect pitch with the sound from the vessel, her voice was pure and full without vibrato. Then she progressed to intervals–a minor third, a sixth, a major seventh. She continued for fifteen minutes then unassumingly stood and went back to her room. No one spoke, struck by the beauty of the presentation. Maud sat with her head back, eyes closed. Pops remained at the table, his head in his hands.
        The next morning Hiram saw Maud reading and drinking from her ever-present cup of coffee.
        “That was beautiful singing . . . what Selena did last night,” he said. “She’s unique. I’ve never heard a voice like that. Her presentation was beautiful.”
        Maud said nothing.
        “She should sing out in public. Make a recording to sell. It’s really cheap to do.”
        “You’d see her doing night clubs. A celebrity?”
        “No. But she could entertain a lot of people and make money doing it.”
        “She used to sing at the church before it closed.”
        “She has a spiritual quality that shouldn't be limited to a church.”
        “What do you think she wants?” Maud asked.
        “I don’t think she knows her potential,” he said.
        “To do what?”
        “Produce and enjoy a valuable profession entertaining.”
        “And why would she do that?”
“To be successful.”

        “But what is this success? What do you think that means to her?”
         Hiram tried to block his rising frustration at Maud’s persistence in questioning the obvious. “I don’t know. Admiration for her talent. Financial independence.”
         Maud got up bringing her coffee cup and sat down at the table where Hiram was working.
        “You were pleased with what she did for you. She made you feel good.”
        “I was awestruck.”
        “She did it for you, you know. She likes you. And she wanted to give you something of value. Something without strings attached. Uniquely hers, too. She doesn’t think in terms of success and money. Subtle meanings, competition, maneuvering mean nothing to her.”

So what's happened? He's beginning to evolve from selfish to selfless, from taking to giving, from indifference to caring. As he makes a difference in the lives of others, he's rewarded with new satisfaction never before experienced.

This story is literary fiction–imagination, drama, in-scene delivery with strong characterization, themes and meanings, and a purpose for telling a story. Literary fiction enlightens readers with discoveries that may awaken self-awareness and human understanding.

You can READ MORE of McDowell’s narrow escapes and growing satisfaction with a new life he never would have anticipated. Available in print, eBook, online, audio.

LEARN MORE about writing literary fiction:
McDowell by William H. Coles

Lasting literary-story characters mature and blossom like a sturdy oak. How do you do that?

Monday, February 6th, 2017
William H. Coles

Here's a two-sentence story to make a point about building characters when creating literary fiction.

Harry flew a kite at the beach to entertain his invalid son. But the kite got away and Harry seethed with anger.

Didn't grab you, I would presume. Let me tell it again, this time with emphasis on characterization entwined in IN-SCENE action.

A wind gust elevated the dragon kite and the string ran through Harry’s hand fast enough to hurt.
        “Let me do it, Daddy,” his son Raymond said as he limped to Harry’s side. The boy held out his hand that trembled without stop from a congenital palsy. Could he hold the string? Fly the kite? He wanted to so badly.
        “Hold it tight,” Harry said placing the string in the boy’s hand. The kite dipped then suddenly soared, the string taught again.
        “I dropped it,” the boy said crying. Harry reached out but the kite had ascended too far to reach the string.
        Harry cursed as the kite disappeared untethered, driven out to the sea by the off-shore wind.
        “I didn’t mean to,” the boy said, “Don’t hit me.”

In literary fiction, effective character development is essential and compliments plot movement.

Here's a snippet from another STORY that emphasizes characterization, "The Perennial Student." In essence, the narrative is more SHOWING than telling.  If an assistant professor is to advance to full professor, he must successfully discipline a student who dominates his creative-writing class with crude offensive writing and comments. Here's an abridged excerpt that exemplifies techniques of in-scene "showing" and character-specific DIALOGUE revealed in a new essay–Creating Quality Characters in Literary Fiction.

Possum waited inside the entrance hall of the ivy-coated building that housed the Departments of English and Computer Science when Denise entered through the left side of the twelve-foot oak doors. How innocent she looked.
        “Denise,” he called, “over here.” She squinted toward the sound of his voice.
        “Will?” she said. All his other students respectfully called him Mr. Possum.
        “Yes. Over here. Behind the statue. I need to talk to you.”
        He had practiced. Now was the moment he’d been dreading. He guided her to the quietest corner of the foyer. The hot summer air seemed to press them together.
        “Look, Denise. You have really made a contribution to the class.”
        “Oh, thank you,” she interrupted. “That’s so cool.”
        “Writing is sensitive business,” he started again.
        “Only when you let it all hang out.”
        “It’s not particularly an issue of hanging out.”
        “You got to tell it like it is. Tell the truth.”
        He tasted the first sourness of defeat. How could this mundane woman with her formidable convictions force him to feel so hopeless?
        “I did not mean that we should not tell the truth. It is a question of adjusting to the sensitivity of the writer.”
        “I know sensitivity. You teach us real good.” She smiled. “It’s all about no pain, no gain.”
        Was she mocking him with her stare of excessive interest? He worried someone might overhear. My God, how she made him flounder. “Each creative composition is so personal it makes a writer vulnerable,” he said.
        She nodded in full agreement.
        He decided to be direct. “I must ask you to be considerate of other class members in your comments.”
        She recoiled slightly, frowning. “Shutting me down?”
        “No. Not ‘shutting you down.’ Just soften your comments.”
        “It’s the men, isn’t?” she asked.
        Possum swallowed. “No. It’s not just the men!” Discrimination? Was she thinking of filing a complaint? His tongue stuck to the dry roof of his mouth.

Of course great literary stories are created by mostly educated writers with talent and will to succeed, but even more important is applying learned techniques of story creation and imaginative telling that provide engagement, entertainment, and enlightenment for the reader.

You can READ "The Perennial Student" (3489 words) or LISTEN (24 minutes) FREE here:

The Perennial Student


Visit main site
  Story in
Literary Fiction
Learn the art of writing great literary fiction:
Newsletter published every other week
New: Graphic Novels

Graphic novels: Homunculus and Reddog
New Novel
McDowell by William H. Coles Read a free sample!
Available in print and
eBook at:
Barnes & Noble
and select bookstores!
Story in Literary Fiction Art Gallery