Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Center for Fiction: A Treasure Chest for Writers & Readers

I was pleased to recently discover the site at The Center for Fiction, which offers writers and readers tons of resources and insight on the writing process.  There’s also a terrific online journal, The Literarian.   Audio!  Visual!  Writers writing about their model short story!  Writers on writing!  Writers recommending books to read!  I’m dizzy from excitement….

I’ve only just dipped in, but I was immediately rewarded with an essay by Roxanna Robinson about the differences between writing short stories and novels, a topic on my mind a lot this semester as I’m teaching a novel writing workshop at Johns Hopkins:

“…I start a novel when I’m interested – and troubled – by the idea of a conflict that connects and divides a group of people. That conflict and those people are the driving force of the book. I get to know the characters very well. I often write brief biographies of them. I come to know their backgrounds, what sort of lives they came from, who their parents were, where they went to school, and so I come to know how they will react to things. I come to feel sympathy for them, and compassion. Then I begin the novel.

“In this, the long form, the characters and the conflict create the story. When I start to write a novel I have no idea of what will happen at the end of it. I have no outline, no story line, no synopsis. It’s the characters who will create the narrative, it’s they who will create the final conclusion, the ending. My job is to discover the characters, learn their settings, and then to harness them all to the conflict. It’s their combined energy that will carry me forward, and this process seems to me a bit like driving a dog team - wild, exciting and a bit risky.”

And check out the site:  www.centerforfiction.org


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.