Archive for November, 2017

Fictional Dream, Literary Style, and Storytelling. Article About Writing Better

Monday, November 27th, 2017
William H. Coles

Improve writing of fiction stories.

Literature (written works of superior, lasting quality as an “art form” and fiction (imagined story and characters) are specific concepts that vitalize a writer to engage, entertain, and enlighten readers and achieve acceptance and endearment of the writer as storyteller and master of written works.

Engagement of a reader is a beneficial authorial achievement; invariably readers enjoy and learn from stories they feel a part of. To improve the skill, writers must find and correct individual strengths and weaknesses compatible with their style. No golden rules exist; but essential creative ideas abound in the talented writer.

Quality in-scene narration can be essential for a writer to capture the reader and give space for the reader to participate in the conflicts, characterizations, enlightenments that the fiction story can provide. Space means creating, for example, through action, dialogue, resolutions, morality, discovery, a character that one reader might say, wow! I love a story about a faulty hero while another reader might simultaneously think about the same character, an antihero is exactly what provides reality and credibility here. Written story-works provide opportunities for readers to build their own unique, internalized interpretations of characters and story (created and directed by the author, of course) that satisfy and please by discovery.

John Gardner introduced the concept of the fictional dream, an idea that has been inspected, interpreted, dissected, revised, and often ignored for decades. Basically, a writer creates a dream for the reader that is like submerging into an oceanic fictional world where characters and story absorb the reader without forcing the reader to leave the dream and "break the surface" back into reality.

Writers often break a reader’s fictional-dream with correctable errors such as: non-sequiturs, lack of logic or credibility, grammatical errors, inappropriate metaphor, misspellings, inaccurate word choice, faulty ideation, and–a most common correctable error–poor narrative choice or delivery. Story narrators provide crucial story information outside a character’s knowledge or capabilities such as exposition, pre-scene setup, anecdote, commentary, back story. To maintain a reader in the fictive story-dream, narrator-information is discreetly infused in scènes and narrative passages without calling attention to narrator presence.

Examples. The scene: an inexperienced pilot goes into a death spiral killing himself and his passenger.

1) She prayed when Harry gripped the Cessna’s throttle so tight his knuckles turned white; the engine whining on the edge of a power stall, the wing dipping to pull us into a death spiral. Harry moaned, frozen in fear. Her eyes stared to the side window where views of the earth alternated with the clouds in terrifying disorientation. And then, in an instant and with inexplicable surprise, she felt nothing—her senses stripped.

Comment. 3rd person POV. In-context, reader concentration and story involvement maintained.

2) She never wanted to take this flight. Heights terrified her. And she was sick from the erratic lurches they were experiencing. The engine whined as the nose of the Cessna rotated up. Harry had less than 35 hours of instrument training, a death spiral from loss of control could kill them. They were less than 3000 feet from the ground. The wing dipped, the plane plunged twisting toward the earth to impact a few seconds later, exploding, dark fuel-smoke whorling upward . . . the world turning silent.

Comment. A narrator describes action and exposition–the reader is an observer–blocking potential for a fictional dream.

Caution. Even though the concept of fictional dream is not well understood and is subject to different interpretations and acceptance, awareness of the fiction dream helps authors to engage, entertain, and enlighten a reader by mastering storytelling narrative techniques and writing competency.

READ story examples of fictional dream FREE online or PDF download:

The Amish Girl  (short story)

Dilemma  (short short)

Crossing Over  (short short)

The Amish Girl

“The Amish Girl” a short story by William H. Coles

Illustration by Dilleen Marsh

How funny are you?

Monday, November 13th, 2017
William H. Coles

How funny are you? Do you make people smile and laugh? Is anyone void of humor?

For fiction writers, these are not trivial questions. A literary writer builds and molds character to an imagined story. Since most characters need some aspect of humor, what is humor all about for a writer?

I  interviewed  two comedy professionals (husband and wife): Kevin Nealon, film actor, TV (Weeds, Man with a Plan), standup comedian, and in cast of Saturday Night Live (1986–1995, 174 episodes) and creator of memorable characters such as Hans, Mr. Subliminal, and Weekend Edition; Susan Yealey, television actor and show host, film star (Mascots), comedy series, (Parks and Recreation, Rules of Engagement) who trained at USC film school and the Groundlings in LA.

I started with the question–can a human exist without a sense of humor?

Humor is an elemental way humans release tensions–the body needs to have that sense of release–and humans use humor to connect with each other. Probably all humans have at least the potential for a sense of humor. It is obvious that humor varies relating to background, social perceptions, geographical location, culture, maturity, level of education, to name a few essentials.

It's probably no surprise that surprise is at the core of the instigation of the humor response. You can find it in a misunderstanding, or a misdirection: stimuli based on expressing something we never thought about before, often in a form of syntactical manipulation. And it’s always based on the design to surprise.

Misunderstanding–This woman was in a dress shop and found a dress she liked. “Could I try on that dress in the window?” she said. The shop assistant looked up: “Sorry, Madame, you’ll have to use the changing rooms like everyone else."

Misdirection–A CEO stands before his company’s shareholders to honor an employee for twenty-five years of loyal service. Today we would like to thank Albert for his service to our company. Albert is someone who does not know the meaning of impossible task, who does not know the meaning of lunch break, who does not understand the meaning of the word no. So we have taken a collection and bought Albert a dictionary.

[Simple examples, neither a Yeagley or Nealon joke.]

And of course humor is timing too.  Subconsciously, a comedian knows how people think, knows how long it takes for them to process something, knows the direction they are thinking, and then lays the punchline, or whatever, at that moment when you know recipient is processing something in a different way.

It's complicated so take pleasure in the reading THE COMPLETE YEAGLEY/NEALON INTERVIEW (FREE).  Read how these comedians comment on humor and develop humorous stories using the elements above… and much more.

AND YOU CAN READ A SHORT STORY BY WILLIAM H COLES (FREE) with serious content where humor is embedded for relief and distraction–FACING GRACE WITH GLORIAA half-crazy vagrant easy on untruths and skilled at the art of scam meets a young woman whose father died in a river crash of a commercial jet. She thinks her father was a hero and seeks to find the truth; the vagrant lets the girl believe he saw the crash to scam her but changed by caring and a wash of moral integrity, allows the girl to believe in her father's heroism.

Thanks for reading. What does humor mean to you?
All the best.
William H. Coles

Susan Yeagley and Kevin Nealon interview

Illustration from "Facing Grace with Gloria"


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