How Fiction Works

Discussion

How to Recognize an Unreliable Narrator

Here’s a question that comes up periodically on literary sites: I’m having trouble reading books with unreliable narrators. How exactly do you know a narrator is unreliable? When I saw the question again recently, I realized that, although the question gets asked a lot, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an answer. It’s a hard …

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Discussion

Moral Depth in Current Fiction

Introduction I came upon Adam O’Fallon Price’s article The Subjective Mood, in which he laments the lack of moral depth in current fiction, back in February. I included it in a literary-links round-up, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it because I find a lot of moral depth in most of the fiction I read.  …

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Discussion

The Interplay of Plot and Character in Fiction

Thanks to these two bloggers for sponsoring the 2020 Blog Discussion Challenge: Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction Shannon at It Starts at Midnight You can join the discussion challenge at any time during 2020 by clicking on either link above. Which is more important in fiction: plot or character? Novels that engage in complex …

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5 More Irresistible Introductions in Fiction

Earlier post: 5 Irresistible Introductions in Fiction An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this. —Stephen King Why Stephen King Spends ‘Months and Even Years’ Writing Opening Sentences The openings of these five novels so obviously invite the reader …

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Review: “The Blinds”

Background: Genre Fiction Genre is a term applied to different kinds of literature that can be defined by their subject matter, form, or technique. According to A Handbook to Literature, 7th ed., by William Harmon & C. Hugh Holman (Prentice Hall, 1996): Genre classification implies that there are groups of formal or technical characteristics among …

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6 Illustrations of How Setting Works in Literature

In its most basic meaning, setting in fiction refers to the time and place in which the action of a novel or short story occurs. In some works the setting isn’t much more than a few simple references to time and place in order to ground the work in reality. In other instances setting takes …

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5 Novels With Unusual Narrative Structures

Genre can be liberating, in an artistic sense. To follow and break the rules at the same time can lead to moments of true serendipity. For me, it has elevated the concept of form, the actual structure of the novel, to become the most crucial element, because as in architecture, form follows function… . In …

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How Narrative Structure Works in Fiction

And How It Differs from Plot Have you ever wanted to yell at someone, “If you hadn’t done __________, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now”? Actions have consequences. And often one action produces a consequence that requires another action, and so on—and on. This cause-and-effect pattern works in fiction just as it …

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Why I Don’t Need to Like Fictional Characters

At a book group gathering a few months back a man opened the discussion with the comment, “I didn’t like this book because I just couldn’t like any of the characters.” I don’t even remember what that month’s book was because my mind took off with that comment. That was certainly not the first time …

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5 Irresistible Introductions in Fiction

Tips for Writers and Readers Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again. —Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier Read that sentence, one of the most famous first sentences in literature, aloud. Notice its cadence. The rhythm lulls you toward sleepiness—appropriate for a dream. And the rest of the book hinges on that final word, …

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