By Ray Foy How deliberately do you build your fiction from units of problem-complications-climax? Maybe you don’t think about it and write “by the seat of your pants.” Even so, a good understanding of this “unit of fiction,” better known as “the dramatic arc,” will only improve your storytelling. The dramatic arc is a vital… Read More The Dramatic Arc
BY DAVIS ENLOE In the poem, “Approaching Prayer,” James Dickey takes on the dilemma of the irrational, or more directly, the soul. This poem, which Dickey calls his most “complicated and far-fetched,” appears in his fourth book, Helmets. Consider the five opening lines of “Approaching Prayer,” A moment tries to come in Through… Read More Approaching Dickey’s “Approaching Prayer”
BY AMBER WHEELER BACON In Malone Dies, Samuel Beckett breaks many of the rules that writing teachers teach in workshop—regarding breaking sequence, reader confusion and plot. While reading it, I kept asking myself, “Why do I love this?” If there’s a plot, it’s barely there. The reader is confused from the beginning and stays confused… Read More Reading Malone Dies: How and Why Does it Work?
By Jayne Padgett Bowers The first South Carolinian to win the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, Julia Peterkin won the coveted award in 1929, and though the honor was controversial at the time, Peterkin’s Scarlet Sister Mary, a novel about the Gullah people of the South Carolina coast, triumphed. Recently, I’ve become aware that many South… Read More South Carolina’s Pulitzer Prize Winner
by Jayne Bowers At first it seemed amusing, or rather the Facebook banter about the book seemed amusing. Intrigued by a friend’s comments about her personal use of the exclamation point, I clicked the link she had posted to a New York Times article about Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style.… Read More Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, Benjamin Dreyer
By Amber Wheeler Bacon When I worked with Alice Mattison at the Bennington Writing Seminars, she helped me see that what I thought was my novel was actually a series of strong, barely connected episodes. I began studying novel structure then and saw that a novel needs some kind of narrative momentum to keep a… Read More Questions and Momentum in the Novel
By Amber Wheeler Bacon If I met Rebecca Lee at a party, I might be afraid to talk to her. Or I would have been until reading her collection, which makes topics like the Indochina refugee crisis, Eastern European politics during the Second World War, and yes, even terrines accessible to easily befuddled readers (and… Read More Bobcat, Rebecca Lee