Thursday, July 23, 2009


Even though this talks about literary fiction, I think the concept should be applied to any kind of fiction. Sorry, I can't take credit for this.

By tradition, literary fiction tends to be serious—and static. A valuable area of improvement for literary writers is making their writing vibrant with motion—full of energy that is transferred from page to reader. Action! And all this action in writing comes from word choice, well-constructed sentences and paragraphs, and from clear transfer of ideas that avoids obscurity. Then a story has action in all its elements, and momentum overall.

Overall, everything should move forward in a story. A story is a tidal wave that carries water fowl, trees and plants, and man-made elements broken and mangled; and when it encounters obstacles it engulfs them and dislodges them inexorably. Stories cannot be stagnant puddles waiting for an occasional shower to maintain their existence. It is the author’s challenge, if not duty, to create a tidal wave. It is a quest not accomplished in a few sittings before a computer screen. Learning to write with story momentum is a lifelong dedication


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  1. Oh how TRUE! I went to a conference and the novelist/teacher was speaking about the fact that every word (not sentence but word) has to move the story forward. It changed my whole novel!

    Great post.

  2. way fun signature! i'm trying to figure out which books i've already read which might be considered literary fiction. i'm not sure i'm a fan of it's description!

  3. Very interesting description of literary fiction. I was just recently talking with someone about this. I like the way this says it is driven by ideas and word choice, but that a tidal wave is required to keep the reader involved. I think the best literary fiction hits this mark but some never gets that wave action. If a novel--literary or genre--doesn't have a compelling story, it doesn't matter how beautiful the language is.

  4. This says it like it should be Elizabeth. The tidal wave is a big part of success.

    And why should literary fiction have the monopoly on momentum? Fact is - it doesn't! Perhaps good writing does.
    June in Oz

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