How Fiction Works

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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5 Examples of Why I Like Mysteries

I love reading mysteries because a well written mystery delves deeply into the depths of the human heart and psyche. I’m in partial agreement with Beth O’Brien, who says: For me, the mystery books to read are personal. I want to know what happens to those directly affected. The family, the friends, the victims themselves. …

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bookshelves: Literature and Psychology

How Fiction Works

Vanishing Point This piece is a translation of a speech given by Swedish novelist Karl Ove Knausgaard on receiving a German literary award. Here the writer explains how reading fiction helps us to understand humanity in general by focusing our awareness on individual people. What characterizes our age is “the sheer volume of images of …

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