Posts Tagged ‘narrative’

Film is, arguably, the dominant art of our time. It is also, usually, a narrative form. It makes sense, then, to study film if you are interested in narrative. Good films are often masterpieces of narrative structure and great films always are.

A good start–candycanesammy’s Thoughts on Film website, especially this post: WGA 101 BEST SCREENPLAY LIST RECAP, written on 13 January 2011. In this article, candycanesammy explains what he has learned from watching and analyzing the films on the WGA Best Screenplay list. His analysis is chuck full of  nuggets of writerly goodness. Highly recommended for fictioneers.


Gretchen Rubin at The Happiness Project has worked through Flannery O’Connor‘s letters and found eight wonderful little gems of advice on writing fiction.Click here.  My favorite:

I know that the writer does call up the general and maybe the essential through the particular, but this general and essential is still deeply embedded in mystery. It is not answerable to any of our formulas.

Literary analysis is a wonderful thing, but if the story is a great story it will always ultimately evade analysis. And it will not be replicable by formula.

Excellent comments, too, after the post. Recommended.

Andrew Miller has a good article on how to create fictional characters in today’s Guardian. Click here. Very smart; well worth reading.


“No one writes for long without understanding that they are entering mystery and will never leave it.”

“At its simplest, its barest, characterisation is about a writer’s grasp of what a human being is. When we set out to write, we do not do so out of a sense of certainty but out of a kind of radical uncertainty. We do not set out saying: ‘The world is like this.’ But asking: ‘How is the world?'”

The Basics: Narrative

Posted: Thursday, March 10, 2011 in Clipping, Fiction, On Writing
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Screenwriter Scott Myers on how to build a story, old school. Three parts: challenge, struggle, resolution. The blog looks interesting, too, especially if you’re interested in writin’ for the talkies.

Go Into The Story: “Tell to Win” by Peter Guber (Part 1). (Scroll down.)

The Basics

Posted: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 in Commonplace Book, Fiction, Narrative, On Writing
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It’s not about theme, it’s not about ideas, it’s not about setting, but what the protagonist wants. – David Mamet


Posted: Friday, February 11, 2011 in Commonplace Book, Narrative, On Writing

I prefer to discuss the human heart through characterization, and to address the human condition through plot. – David Mitchell

Change or die: Canadian author Derek Beaulieu says the novel is either dying or on its way to reinvention. (Meanwhile, in 2008, the last year for which data is available, publishers in the United States published more than 47,000 fiction titles. Fiction is still the top-selling category in book publishing. See Bowker‘s statistics here. Bat Terrier assumes the vast bulk of these novels are “traditional” narratives and that the genre remains stubbornly un-reinvented.)

And… So you wanna be a critic? John Sutherland‘s top 10 books about books, from Aristotle’s Poetics to Henry Louis Gate’s The Signifying Monkey.

George Orwell‘s eleven golden rules for making a proper cup of tea.

And his rules for writing. Seriously and highly recommended. One cannot read these rules often enough.

And, finally, if you want the complete Orwell experience, make yourself a nice cup of tea and then sit down to read his great essay, “Politics and the English Language.”

Story and Experience

Posted: Wednesday, October 6, 2010 in Commonplace Book, Narrative
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“The fact is that anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days. If you can’t make something out of a little experience, you probably won’t make it out of a lot.  The writer’s business is to contemplate experience, not to be merged in it.”

— Flannery O’ Connor

The essence of story

Posted: Sunday, October 3, 2010 in Commonplace Book, Narrative
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“The reality that lends itself to narrative representation is the conflict between desire and the law.”

–Hayden White