Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Tuesday's Inspiration - Good Fiction - thoughts by Janet Lane Walters
"Good fiction does not deal in codes of conduct. It affirms responsible humanness." This bit from John Gardner's On Becoming A Novelist set me thinking. I have a BA in English and sat through several courses where I was to find the Theme behind the stories. For me this was the hardest thing to do. The teachers seemed to be looking for that "code of conduct" to make the story valid.
For me the most interesting part of the story belonged to the characters and how they acted and reacted to the events in their life. I didn't fail the courses. I did fairly well but every analysis of the stories in class found me on the opposite side from the teacher. Was this because I was already a writer when I went for this degree. Probably. One teacher told me finding the theme wasn't the writer's responsibility. Their purpose was to write characters who engaged with the problems they faced and to show what they were facing.
I only once wrote a story where there might be a theme but not really. When writing Code Blue, I finished the book and was asked by an editor to let her know what the theme of the book entailed. This wasn't my current publisher of the book but one many times ago. The only thing I could come up with was many of the characters had some kind of obsession. But this is a very general theme. So is Love, Murder and other areas writers write about.
The real thrill of a story for me is how the characters walk the road called plot and how each deals with what happens in their lives and the lives of the other characters.