Archive for June, 2018

A Secret of Great Literary Fiction Stories as Art Editorial Opinion


Friday, June 29th, 2018
William H. Coles

We live by stories, descriptions of people and events, real or fictional, that inform or entertain. Stories are ubiquitous as air, essential as a heartbeat, and as varied in the telling as there are humans to tell.

The story as a fiction art-form in prose has evolved over the past few centuries, but recently has declined as literature, a regrettable fact emitting from failure of contemporary authors to strive for "art" in their "creative" writing. What is lost? Imagined fiction and literature as written works considered to have lasting artistic value. The loss of written story as an art form distresses few and those enriched by fiction-story as art increasingly must reach back to past authors. So what makes a literary story so unique?

Virginia Woolf, in A Common Reader, helps sort out the values of literature as art; in essence great literary fiction is about understanding humanity. Charlotte and Emily Brontë's books are Woolf's prime examples, classics of English literature. Charlotte, when she wrote about Jane Eyre, said the passion of " 'I love', 'I hate', 'I suffer' ", although more intense, was on a level of her own (Charlotte's passion). Having quoted this, Woolf proceeds to point out the difference to Emily's Wuthering Heights. In both books, settings carry emotion and "light up the meaning" of the books as powerful symbols of "vast and slumbering passions in human nature" that fulfill the needs of a reader better than words or actions "can convey." But it's humanity that dominates the telling, and it's where Woolf discovers differences between the two sisters that are revealing of the process of created fiction.

Woolf considers Emily the greater poet and points out the stature of her talent. "There is no 'I' in Wuthering Heights. The love is not [just] the love of men and women. The urge to create Wuthering Heights was not her [Emily’s] own suffering or her own injuries. "She [Emily] looked out upon a world cleft into gigantic disorder and felt within her the power to unite it in a book. That gigantic ambition is to be felt throughout the novel–a struggle, half thwarted but of superb conviction, to say something through the mouths of her characters which is not merely 'I love', 'I hate,' but 'we, the whole human race', and 'you, the eternal powers …' "

Woolf is quick to point out "that it is not strange that it should be so; rather it is astonishing that she [Emily] can make us feel what she had it in her to say at all." It is the "suggestion of power underlying the apparitions of human nature and lifting them up into the presence of greatness that gives the book its huge stature among other novels." Emily "could tear up all we know about human beings and fill these unrecognizable transparencies with such a gust of life that they transcend reality." An artistry that many contemporary authors of novels seem incapable of achieving! Woolf continues: "For the self-centered and self-limited writers have a power denied the more catholic and broad-minded. Their impressions are close packed and strongly stamped between narrow walls. Nothing issues from their minds which has not been marked by their own impress. They learn little from other writers, and what they adopt they cannot assimilate. "…a stiff and decorous journalism", prose that is "awkward and unyielding." And it's not unreasonable to suggest to today's proliferating plethora of writers of fiction that such deft thoughts (of Woolf) are the necessary nourishment, now lacking, of every contemporary teacher of creative writing, most of whom sequester in academics, and their students.

So there it is. A major void in the skill of creating great fiction that has, and is, marring the future of established value of literature in the written word as art. What do you think?

Thanks for reading.
William H. Coles

Reference:
The Common Reader, Virginia Woolf, in the essay "Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights." ISBN-13: 978-0156027786

Recommended
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016

Three award-winning, acclaimed, and popular short stories by William H. Coles
The Gift, The Necklace, Speaking of the Dead

gift necklace speaker



Career planning for aspiring, literary-fiction-story writers. Editorial Opinion


Wednesday, June 13th, 2018
William H. Coles

Plan #1

Want to be an author?
Just do it and enjoy.
That's enough for most of us! Writing is a pleasure and we don't have to be the best for all readers or achieve some impossible measure of success.

BUT–

If you want satisfaction for: a) being the best author of the best story you can write that might persist for generations, b) creating stories that speak to contemporary and future readers about the complexities of being human, then you may want to write a fiction story as an art form that engages, entertains, and enlightens, and consider these questions to focus your writing career, even with modest expectations.

Plan #2

1. Why are you writing:
–to be known as an "author" or
–to write creatively and please a targeted group of readers?
No writer, no matter how great or accomplished, pleases even a small fraction of all potential readers, so perspicacious writers know who they want to please then develop their strategy for success with purpose. An enduring truth is creating great stories as an art form is no guarantee for fame and fortune, or universal appeal, but can be durably and reliably satisfying.

2. Do you have purpose to your writing? Do you want to enlighten, stimulate thought, create emotion, entertain?  Do you strive for your storytelling to be valuable for your readers rather than trying to impress them with the superiority of your intellect and creativity? Create excellence in your own way but maintain modesty.

3. Are you good enough to achieve your dream of becoming an author?  To avoid crushing your enthusiasm, try testing works-in-progress by seeking critiques by readers and teachers who are sympathetic to your writing style.  Submit for publication routinely but don't be surprised or depressed by multiple rejections that are the accepted norm regardless of an author's ability and, if considered selectively, can give insight to your level of achievement.

4.  Should you take courses?
            Creative writing workshops give mixed results; they depend inordinately on evaluations of your work by fellow students–novices, at times arrogant and condescending, who inflict imprudent opinion and detrimental criticism.  The value and reputation of MFA programs declines with the proliferation of conferred degrees in creative writing from academic settings struggling to survive financially. Consider carefully. Almost invariably, mentorship and/or self-study will value your time and accentuate your career far better than MFA programs with deficient teaching and time-consuming, defective scholarship.

5. Is your vocabulary commensurate with your aspirations? Improvement in vocabular is a necessary, lifetime endeavor for all writers.  Do you have the time and the will for improvement?

TAKE AWAY
For maximum, lasting pride and self-satisfaction in telling fiction stories, discover who you are as a writer, learn to imagine and create, know what you want to achieve, and focus intently on improvement of craft and storytelling.

Thanks for reading. William H. Coles

REFERENCES:

Essays on Writing
Mastering the Power of a Literary Fictional Story
How Literary Stories Go Wrong

New.  PODCAST. 33 award-winning short stories of William H. Coles for your listening pleasure. (Provided without cost.)

STORY IN FICTION PODCASTS

ccNonFiction 002




Facebooktwitterlinkedinyoutube
Search

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
McDowell by William H. Coles Read a free sample!
Available in print and
eBook at:
Amazon,
(Kindle),
Barnes & Noble,
Authorhouse,
Smashwords
and select bookstores!
Story in Literary Fiction Art Gallery

 

186324
15525