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The Mechanics of Fiction Writing

Click on thumbnails for video lecture links:

Lesson 47.
All the Text We Cannot See

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The sixth dimension of fiction is often the one that makes the difference between an entertaining story and a transcendent literary experience. But subtext is a slippery topic. I take a stab at explaining why English classes live in the realm of subtext so often, why that's to be expected, and why you don't necessarily need to go there as a writer.

Lesson 48.

What Characters are Really Saying

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Literary writers seem to love when characters say one thing and mean another. But people don't always talk this way. Learning when and why people couch their meaning in subtext can help writers to know when it's appropriate to create drama this way without it seeming forced or unnatural.

Lesson 49.
Rules of Discourse

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Sociolinguists study how people talk to each other. Turns out, there are rules to conversation that go far beyond the content of what gets said. This helps to explain how characters can say a lot without saying anything or why it's clear to the other characters when a character has said too much. You already kinda know the rules of discourse. Knowing them explicitly can help you to sharpen your dialogue writing.

Lesson 50.
The Metaphor Writ Small

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An exploration of the literary metaphor on the small scale. With a little help from cognitive science, we explain what metaphors are and why they work when they work and why they don't when they don't.

Lesson 51.
The Metaphor Writ Large

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Wherein I attempt to answer small questions like why people read, write, and enjoy fiction—where meaning lies in stories—and even what the heck is up with Ahab! We use symbols, epiphanies, and themes as our meaning-making tools to get at the big stuff.

 

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