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Author Topic: Story Opening Class 02
Grumpy old guy
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You may notice, or you may not, that I dropped the term “Masterclass” from the title. I felt it might have been too intimidating.

Contemporary readers prefer an immediate immersive experience when opening up a book. The challenge for the writer is to capture and hold that reader’s attention and interest as quickly as possible. One of the ways this can be accomplished is by the early introduction of a character. It need not be the viewpoint character, or even a major agonist, but the character needs to be of a type that will instantly grab the reader’s imagination.

This exercise has been inspired by an except from John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction. In his chapter titled Interest and Truth, he discusses how different styles of writing use different methods to achieve the same descriptive task and, by the use of description, engage the reader’s fiction dream state. The example he uses is describing a big man standing in a doorway; the styles used being that of the essayist and the poet.

The essayist might write: “The man in the doorway was large and apparently ill at ease—so large that he had to stoop a little and draw in his elbows.

The poetic style might render the same scene like this: “He filled the doorway, awkward as a horse.

For this exercise, use the style of the essayist, and then of the poet, to write two sentences which introduce a character standing in a doorway. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, do it in one sentence. And if you're a little crazy as well, add a third, intermediate style, between essayist and poet.

Good luck, you’ve got a week if you want to have a go. I have a steady supply of gold stars and elephant stamps as well as an HM.

Phil.

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extrinsic
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Gardner uses the terms "essayist" and "poet" to mean creative nonfiction's personal essay customs, or reflective essay, writers thereof, and prose's customary figurative, poetic rhetorics customs, writers thereof, respectively.

Michel de Montaigne purportedly founded the personal essay form circa sixteenth century, though earlier traces and innovators are credited as originators as well. The form more or less derived from a secular composition aesthetic congruent to reflective religious expression and accompanied fiction's methodical evolutions.

Prose's rhetorics evolved from poetry long ago and its innovations are attributed to various individuals. Most recently, Edgar Allan Poe is credited with invention of the "modern" short story form and Henry James with the "modern" novel. I would disagree but for the "modern" qualifier. Phillip Lopate is acknowledged as the innovator of the "modern" essay, as well.

Many overlaps bridge essay and prose, a few characteristics distinguish by degree, not mutual exclusion, the forms -- or genres, if categorical distinctions are appreciated. The essay is assumed factual, no need to arrange Coleridge's willing suspension of disbelief required for fiction, which is assumed fictional though to be construed as factual. Narrative authentication features and established narrator identity features are fundamental to both forms. Nonfiction more strongly emphasizes narrative authentication and narrator identity features than fiction.

Personal essay is all but expected to be and customarily of the perpendicular pronoun form narrator -- I . . . For the personal pronoun's subjective qualifications, to mean subject to interpretation and biased report. Report, too, nonfiction assumes a direct by degree address to readers, or the self, too. Fiction avails the received viewpoint reflections custom of a narrator's indirect report to readers. So to speak, fiction is one step removed from direct report, narrator mediated by degree. Nonfiction is direct report, though possibly mediated by the I narrator.

Those characteristics: assumed factual, strong narrative authentication, and established narrator identity, are three of four distinction corners, by degree, between nonfiction and fiction prose. The fourth is nonfiction avails a greater proportion of indirect discourse -- paraphrase, summary and explanation, than fiction, which anticipates a greater proportion of direct discourse -- verbatim speech, thought, and action overall.

That last, method of discourse, more indirect or more direct proportions, is a crucial distinction between essayist and poet prose. That and essayist is by degrees directly involved in and interested in and of an essay's dramatic action; fiction's viewpoint persona removed from writer identity, implied and real, is a precept of Edgar Allan Poe's "modern" short story form aesthetics. That qualifier is mere chimera, though; of course, a writer is involved and interested in and of a narrative's action. Though masked, fiction's writer is nonetheless a narrative presence, if more indirectly than an essayist. This is writing passion's fount: personal involvement.

[ July 25, 2015, 12:07 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Grumpy old guy
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Perhaps the terms essay and poetic in relation to a narrative style were ill-chosen. A clearer definition, although colloquial, might be a fragment written in an authoritative, precise, and factual manner and one written to create a vivid picture using simile and, perhaps, metaphor.

Phil.

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extrinsic
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Gardner uses those terms in the senses meant for the exercise. Gardner is somewhat dated, maybe traditional. He rejected the new, at the time of The Art of Fiction's publication, term "creative nonfiction" for the personal essay form. He was part of a small consensus that believed the term was clumsy, rejected it, and that preferred the traditional term "essay." Creative nonfiction folk still use the term "essay," though more descriptively than prescriptively anymore.

"Poet," though Gardner uses the term as well in the traditional sense, to mean, further, a writer of dramatic poetry, as defined by Aristotle, distinct from history or sciences or purely informational composition, and distinct from epic or lyric poetry forms -- what contemporaries today label fiction and creative nonfiction and poetry and dramatic arts, long and short, "poet" means, inclusively, creative writers, likewise descriptively.

Where "essayist" somewhat flattens the nonfiction arts, "poet" ennobles prose writers as artists upon the Poet's Journey, a sacred vocation to we poets. Besides, "poet" does away with the pesky -ing word and places us all level: author, writer, crank, hack, novice, experienced, etc. Use of an exalted term, like "poet," to label creative writers is esoteric -- insider -- one though that recognizes the art as art and that prose does indeed entail and avail writers of poetic methods.

Plus, prose does as well exhibit many qualities of poetic forms. Besides artful and judicious rhetorical ornamentation, English diction and syntax's default idealized metric foot, for example, resembles iambic pentameter's accentual rhythm, and other foots like dactyl and anapest. Idealized to mean sentences of twenty syllables -- ten idealized words -- and an unstressed-stressed rhythm pattern. Standard Manuscript and Standard Publication Formats' page line width, though paragraph format and not verse format, reflects that idealized line width. That line width is also an ergonomic sensibility. Human eyes perceive a line of that width in two focuses, one each per five idealized words, a physiological practicality.

Gardner touches on scansion, the art and science of metric composing and reading poetry and prose for accentual (poetic emphasis) effect, now a lost art, though writers' and readers' "ears" do intuit artful accentual effect. Gardner's scansion insights for prose writers hold powerful possibilities for deliberate accentual effect.

[ July 26, 2015, 08:47 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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wcoditwgth
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Not exactly sure whether either of these fall into the categories, but got to get the ball rolling.
Well, here goes.

Fragment: The pitter-patter of rain dripping off the door frame onto my ball cap irritated me to no end, partially because of the monotony of beats the water drummed out and partially because of my pounding hangover from last night's party.

Poet: I stood within the metal frame, head hung down like a drooping branch overladen with water and time. My ball cap soaked water like a sieve, only taking some of the liquid that fell upon it while rejecting the rest.

Grammar issues aside, are these sentences fitting for the criteria thus far?

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Disgruntled Peony
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I think he's more looking for description of the character's appearance. This is an instance in which third person would work much better than first person, because people in first person rarely describe themselves. Those are interesting openings, regardless. [Smile]

Here's my attempt.

Essay: Cers balked at the doorframe; he had to duck and shift sideways in order to step through. He was a golem composed of the choicest bits of eight separate corpses, reanimated through magical means.

Poet: Cers pivoted into the room, big as a brick wall and just as sturdy. He was a patchwork quilt of flesh, muscle and bone.

Intermediate: Cers ducked and pivoted in order to fit his unnatural bulk through the doorway. His creator had intended him to be imposing on the battlefield, but had given little thought toward how ridiculous he would look as he ducked through a doorframe.

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wetwilly
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Here's my attempt. Hopefully I understand the concept well enough.

Essayist: Gershwin stood in the doorway and forced himself to breathe deeply and slowly. Nobody in the ballroom had seen him yet, and he prayed the good Lord would strike him dead before they did.

Poet: Gershwin swayed in the doorway like a daisy in a thunder storm, a wilting flower fully prepared to wash away in the flood rather than face that ballroom full of hungry, pecking birds.

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extrinsic
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The Place Between

Essayist: They say stand in a doorway for earthquake safety.

Poet: He shuddered at the doorway, at the thought of the phony promotion party inside, at seclusion's cold though welcome and sincere embrace outside.

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Grumpy old guy
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Well, it's a grey Saturday morning here in the land of Oz, the rain is drizzling and it's about 40F with a light breeze shuffling the leaves outside.

I shall close this class when I crawl out of my cozy little bed tomorrow morning, and I may even post a submission of my own, but not for consideration. All the entries so far submitted are interesting and, if anyone else would like to contribute there's still about 24 hours to go.

Phil.

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Grumpy old guy
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My submission.

Realist:

The things you noticed first were his bulging eyes above sunken cheeks and an Adam’s apple the size of a golf ball. He was a small man; no more than 120 pounds dripping wet and his suit seemed two sizes too big.

Poet:

The door opened and an emaciated rag-doll of a man stood there like a puppet with all its strings cut.

Phil.

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Disgruntled Peony
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I have to say, Phil, you really hooked me with both descriptions. My only thought for flow:

The door opened. An emaciated rag-doll of a man stood there like a puppet with all its strings cut.

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Grumpy old guy
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"Well, the votes are in and I have an announcement to make; drum roll please . . ."

The gold star and elephant stamp go to Disgruntled Peony. Partly because of the intermediate attempt which I found delightful, but mainly because I get a better sense of characterisation than any of the other entries.

An honourable mention for extrinsic. The essayist version is thought provoking and, although I find the poetic version somewhat overwrought, I feel a light trim is in order, it does evoke character emotion.

As for DP's suggestion about changing one of my own versions, beginning with such a short declarative sentence is, for me, a story stopper. If I may, to a reader it would read like this: The door opened Stop! "?!!??!" An emaciated . . .

However, by not introducing a period and allowing the sentence to roll on I am, in effect, dragging the reader deeper into the story dream.

I'd like to thank all of you who have participated. The next exercise is a doozy. [Smile]

Phil.

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Disgruntled Peony
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quote:
Originally posted by Grumpy old guy:
As for DP's suggestion about changing one of my own versions, beginning with such a short declarative sentence is, for me, a story stopper. If I may, to a reader it would read like this: The door opened Stop! "?!!??!" An emaciated . . .

However, by not introducing a period and allowing the sentence to roll on I am, in effect, dragging the reader deeper into the story dream.[/QB]

That's fair. Maybe a semi-colon instead of a period? The reason the 'and' bothers me is because the door opened and then the character stood. Something about that makes my internal editor squirm, although I'm not sure if I can coherently explain why.
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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by Grumpy old guy:
As for DP's suggestion about changing one of my own versions, beginning with such a short declarative sentence is, for me, a story stopper. If I may, to a reader it would read like this: The door opened Stop! "?!!??!" An emaciated . . .

However, by not introducing a period and allowing the sentence to roll on I am, in effect, dragging the reader deeper into the story dream.

Phil.

Disgruntled Peony's intuitions resolve upon three awkwardnesses of language in the sentence that disturb the "story dream": one, the pronominal adverb "there" is distant from its antecedent subject "The door"; two, the static voice state of being of the verb "stood"; and three, the fused sentence's two independent unconnected-idea clauses.

Two other considerations: the clunky preposition "with" and the lackluster repetition of the puppet subject by possessive pronoun "its." A single word suffices to satisfy both: whose.

"The door opened and an emaciated rag-doll of a man stood there like a puppet with all its strings cut."

A dash after "opened" partly satisfies the fused sentence consideration. A rearrangement of the sentence for clearer idea connection fully satisfies the fused sentence and warrants a semicolon instead. A more dynamic verb satisfies the static verb consideration. A rearrangement for the position of "there" or a repetition, substitution, amplification adjustment satisfies the pronominal adverb (pronoun) consideration.

Illustrations:
//The door opened -- and there _stood_ an emaciated rag-doll of a man, like a puppet with all its strings cut.//

"Stood" is still a static verb, "with" and "its" still, too, though. Note that preposition "of" in each case artfully emphasizes the man's description. That preposition, in other words, trumps the dubiously needed "with" one.

//The door opened; and an emaciated rag-doll of a man slumped onto the door jamb, like a puppet whose strings were cut.//

On the other hand, the sentence's rearrangement and punctuation now make the sentence bumpy, maybe too bumpy for the intended flow. Discretionary options avail.

//The door opened and an emaciated rag-doll of a man slumped like a puppet whose strings were cut onto the door jamb.//

Instead of a simile comparison, likewise a metaphor may serve.

//The door opened and an emaciated rag-doll of a man slumped, the puppet's strings cut, onto the door jamb.//

Erasmus's De Copia exercise recasts sentences numerous times and ways to develop discretionary style diction and syntax skills. As above.

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Grumpy old guy
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This is exactly why I need to improve my grammar,and coincidentally, my first foray will be into 'voice'.

Phil.

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extrinsic
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Plenty of detail around the water cooler, the Internet, and grammar handbooks about passive and active voices. Far less about static and dynamic voices, though grammar handbooks detail their criteria based on nonfinite and finite verbs. A few more specific details I picked up from writing theories, like Aristotle, Chatman, and Booth, along the way. Other voice criteria springs from grammar as a whole and methods and customs of discourse.
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Geoffrey Fowler
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I found myself wincing when I read, “Contemporary readers prefer an immediate immersive experience.” It is simply too categorical and also vague—what exactly is an immersive experience? I like to think readers prefer an opening that grabs their attention in some way, and then leads to something that maintains it, perhaps intensifies it; being immersed in a poorly written first paragraph that gets the story off to fast start with no preparation immerses the reader, but there are things one prefers not to be immersed in, aren't there?

Sometimes, great writing is enough to get a story going, writing like Truman Capote's opening paragraph of In Cold Blood.

THE VILLAGE OF HOLCOMB STANDS on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call “out there.” Some seventy miles east of the Colorado border, the countryside, with its hard blue skies and desert-clear air, has an atmosphere that is rather more Far West than Middle West. The local accent is barbed with a prairie twang, a ranch-hand nasalness, and the men, many of them, wear narrow frontier trousers, Stetsons, and high-heeled boots with pointed toes. The land is flat, and the views are awesomely extensive; horses, herds of cattle, a white cluster of grain elevators rising as gracefully as Greek temples are visible long before a traveler reaches them.

Capote began by setting the scene, which he continues in the following paragraphs. There are other openings, for example using backstory elements, character portrayal, and, yes, immersing the reader in the action.

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extrinsic
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“Contemporary readers prefer an immediate immersive experience." refers to the elusive reading dream of whatever methods engage readers in the waking dream state that exceptional prose accomplishes.

From "Being a Glossary of Terms Useful in Critiquing Science Fiction," by David Smith, hosted at SFWA.

"Engage (to). Used intransitively, it means a reader who is paying close attention. Used transitively, it means an author or a piece of fiction that forces the reader to pay close attention. A reader who is engaged is following closely, intent on capturing everything that occurs in the story. The stronger the reader’s engagement, the stronger the fictional dream. Stories which are economical, and in which the important events occur onstage, engage the reader. Readers are also engaged when scenes are so vital, alive and well realized that the reader cannot skip past them. See Local Dexterity. Setting action offstage, or including inefficient material, causes the reader to disengage. Puzzle-oriented mysteries engage the reader, because anything and everything may be a clue. The primary objective of the first four pages of any story is to hook and engage the reader. Whatever its flaws, Dune accomplishes this by the striking visuals of its early scenes. (CSFW: David Smith)"

As does Capote, eye kick "telling details" that are lively and vivid. The details move and express a strong and clear attitude about the setting's time, place, situation, persons, and events. Those create the dream space of the narrative's secondary setting, to become the immediate immersion experience primary to readers' alpha reality.

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Geoffrey Fowler
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I believe you've confirmed my assertion that "immediate immersive experience" is a vacuous generality by failing to explain why it is simply a preference and why it applies (by implication) only to contemporary readers. The assertion that a writer's goal is to create a dream state provides no clarification: When I watch a movie or read a book, whether fiction or non-fiction, I am not in a dream state; I am detached from my surroundings because my mind is occupied with understanding a flow of non-sensory information. All the while I am thinking; I may laugh; I may become annoyed at what I see and stop watching or reading—or I may fall asleep and dream.

On the other hand, I totally agree with the criteria for a good opening you have listed; they are things that work in practice and they can be learned; how to create an "immediate immersive experience" cannot be.

[ January 23, 2017, 07:02 PM: Message edited by: Geoffrey Fowler ]

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extrinsic
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Among passionate creative composition readers and writers, the reading dream terms evoke an array of shared concepts and experiences which are a general consensus agreement in broad strokes. A less than vacuous generality of such entails either that shared knowledge or reams of explication about what are in essence subject to interpretation abstract dream state phenomenon spanning creative expression, spectator engagement, physical and social sciences, philosophy, religion, politics, and ad nauseam etc.

In the end, readers and writers formulate individual degree and nuance meanings for and perhaps methods to create immersive experience, reading dream, etc. Elsewise, every narrative would be so similar no need for more than one would exist. Ergo, originality, freshness, uniqueness.

How to create an immersive experience, though, can be taught and learned from narrowed generalities upon which to individually expand. This is inferable from the major methods shift that accompanied Realism's departures from Romanticism and furthered by publication technology advancements that attended and resulted in a wider reader audience, which was necessary to pay back the industrial costs. Today's methods are unrecognizable to writers and readers of, say, Henry James' era, though suit contemporary readers' sensibilities.

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Geoffrey Fowler
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I assume “creative composition” is a new designation of “fiction” that has gained acceptance in academia; I'm terribly uninformed about what is going on in non-scientific fields.

If you had written, “Today's methods would be unrecognizable to writers and readers of, say, Henry James's era,” I would have to agree with you. The partial converse, “The methods of Henry James and other writers of his era are easily comprehended by readers of our era” is, however, also true and much more interesting; it shows there is something elusive about what leads to a good opening in a work of fiction, or, as you would say, a “creative composition.”

Since I have already quoted from it, I use In Cold Blood as an example (Capote is dead, but still, in a way a contemporary) of what I mean by “elusive.” Despite what you may think, Capote hasn't immersed the reader in anything but awesomely good writing. Writing like that is a gift; it can't be taught. An ordinary mortal who attempted to imitate Capote's extraordinarily long scene-setting in their opening of a novel (is this word still in use?) would have their manuscript rejected straightaway because they couldn't conjure up the same magic.

There is mysterious alchemy at work in good writing and, in particular, in writing good openings. Creating anticipation, using backstory, scene setting, or simply starting with a great line like “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” can do it, but which is appropriate depends on the storyline; moreover, the process of matching introduction and plot has obvious recursive aspects. You believe that writing a good opening “can be taught and learned from narrowed generalities upon which to individually expand.” If by that you mean that students will benefit from becoming acquainted with the various ingredients that may be used individually or in combination in an opening, then I would agree. Unfortunately, if they have no talent it won't help them at all.

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extrinsic
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The term "talent" assumes esoteric knowledge: "Esoteric Knowledge (also Esoteric Wisdom; Gnosticism; Inner Truth): A fallacy from logos and ethos, that there is some knowledge reserved only for the Wise, the Holy or the Enlightened, things that the masses cannot understand and do not deserve to know, at least not until they become more "spiritually advanced." The counterpart of this fallacy is that of Obscurantism (also Obscurationism; Willful Ignorance), that (almost always said in a basso profundo voice) "There are some things that mere mortals must never seek to discover!" E.g., "Scientific research on human sexuality is morally evil! There are some things that humans are simply not meant to know!" For the opposite of this latter, see the "Plain Truth Fallacy." See also, Argumentum ad Mysteriam." (Open Courseware. "Master List of Logical Fallacies." University of Texas at El Paso.)

Also, "Survivorship bias, or survival bias, is the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that "survived" some process and inadvertently overlooking those that did not because of their lack of visibility. This can lead to false conclusions in several different ways. (Wikipedia)

Or as Edison notoriously asserted, like talent, "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration." Likewise what can be taught and learned about composition -- "one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration." More can be taught than is; more can be learned than is, but for habits of convenience.

The opening line of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice illustrates perspiration. As do many top one hundred opening line lists' items. From William Gibson's Neuromancer, "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." No need to cite Charles Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities's lengthy opening preamble; it is widely available and often on top best line lists. Larry Heinemann's "The Fragging," "Second Lieutenant Lionel Calhoun McQuade was a Citadel punk, and that's probably what killed him."

Each and all openings, pieces, wholes, starts, middles, ends, etc., titles too, entail lyric, philosophic, energeic expression, or permutations or combinations of those, plus, complication, conflict, tone; event, setting, character existents; antagonism, causation, tension; the six prominent human sensations; segment sequencing; poetic equipment, and that's a short list of narrative essentials which creative composition entails, can be taught, can be learned. Less cannot be taught and learned than convenient habits claim otherwise.

I don't know about academia, or the writing academy in terms of teaching theoretical creative expression overlaps with other arts, however, creative expression and composition include more than written-word forms, more than two dimensions, more than mechanics and aesthetics. The human condition is those mores. Mores can be taught and learned, even become transformative and second-nature mature moral conduct.

Capote's true crime drama stretches creative nonfiction into fiction territory, novel, more or less. Nor is his descriptive aesthetic unique. George Orwell and Fyodor Dostoyevsky developed similar methods. As well, Ernest Hemingway, Kurt Vonnegut, Don DeLillo, Joyce Carol Oates, Octavia Butler, ad infinitum, each expanded upon and borrowed method learning from those who came before and their contemporaries.

[ January 24, 2017, 01:31 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Geoffrey Fowler
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I confess not knowing what you mean by “The term 'talent' assumes esoteric knowledge,” standing alone it makes no sense whatsoever. But when I read what follows it, I see you are suggesting that those who use the term talent, for example, by suggesting that certain activities require it, are anti-egalitarian, politically incorrect and therefore morally suspect. This is a strange accusation to make. Merriam-Webster defines talent as “a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude”—nothing esoteric here. Some people lack physical coordination—they will never succeed in sports regardless of how much coaching they receive; some people are intelligent but have zero creativity or lack both—they will never become successful writers of fiction. Edison's statement "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration" is the last, desperate hope of the mediocre (by the way, Edison was not a genius; he was a tinkerer). The sad truth is that one percent inspiration is worth ninety-nine-percent perspiration; the average untalented wannabe writer can fill ten swimming pools with beads of sweat and still produce nothing worth reading.

I am disappointed that you chose to dwell on this narrow issue; I would have liked to learn what you felt about Henry James and the modern reader. Finally, although it's a matter of taste, I think stylistically DeLillo doesn't come up to Capote's knees. And "Second Lieutenant Lionel Calhoun McQuade was a Citadel punk, and that's probably what killed him" just doesn't do anything for me, especially as an opening line. As long as we're exchanging opinions on writers, you may enjoy José Ortega y Gasset's Revolt of The Masses; Gasset was a brilliant stylist.

[ January 23, 2017, 11:17 PM: Message edited by: Geoffrey Fowler ]

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extrinsic
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Definition of terms is a prelude strategy toward shared knowledge and open discussions, not to mention, champions met upon the field of competition. Talent exhorted as a type of natural ability is an esoteric knowledge fallacy which misses that no one is born naturally and guaranteed imbued with creative talent; some acquire predetermined ability by accident of birth, like some professional athletes do, also by environmental influences, by support group fostering, by whatever means, talent most through passionate self-pursuits of wanted destinations.

No one becomes a professional quarterback by convenient habits, and fewer become professional quarterbacks than become professional writers, ergo, natural physical fitness for sports is a competitive advantage, not an innate talent.

For composition, a lively and vivid imagination is a competitive advantage; everyone has some degree of aptitude for it of whatever acquired passion type it entails: visual, aural, tactile, olfactory, gustatory, emotional, mechanical, aesthetical, philosophical, political, spiritual, instinctive, planned, or whatever creative activity.

Henry James offers much consideration of craft and art for a contemporary creative composer. His elder brother William coined the term "stream of consciousness" and its explication contemporary to James' uses of the methods. Human conscious consciousness and its problems are also central-high on James' aesthetical pursuits. For contemporary composers, James offers as much to desire as to avoid. Like Capote, DeLillo, etc.

Who, though, is a best practice candidate or candidates set for study, emulation, and upon which to expand? To each pursuit and its composer as suits the individual's and the audience's sensibilities. No one singly stands out for me: some from column A's mechanics, some from form II's aesthetics, some from room X-ray's intangibles, some from my smart subconscious's plants. My goal is a synthesis that transcends current, accepted as built-in, convenient habit creative composition shortfalls.

[ January 23, 2017, 11:37 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Geoffrey Fowler
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"no one is born naturally imbued with creative talent, some acquire talent by accident of birth ..."

Now you've lost me completely. I surrender.

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extrinsic
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Some acquire [ability] (not creative talent, my mistake) by accident of birth, say genetically predisposed for physical tallness, born ripe for basketball, and changing lightbulbs, plastering and painting ceilings, perhaps leadership roles -- due to a natural human inclination to look for the tallest person in the area and take cues and direction from that individual, when to retreat, for one.
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Disgruntled Peony
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Wow. This discussion took off swiftly and suddenly.

Whether or not writing well can be taught is a subject that I'm sure can be debated back and forth to high heaven, but there's certainly evidence that it can be learned. Every writer goes through a learning curve. Some people may pick things up more quickly, or have an easier start due to (for example) extensive reading the possession of a vivid imagination. It's just like any other form of artistic expression--it takes years, decades even, to hone one's skill.

As for the debate on the term "immediate immersive experience":
quote:
Originally posted by Geoffrey Fowler:
I like to think readers prefer an opening that grabs their attention in some way, and then leads to something that maintains it, perhaps intensifies it;

This is exactly what creating an immediate immersive experience means to me, so the need for such an extensive debate on the topic struck me as confusing. It honestly seemed to me that both sides were trying to make the same points, but coming at it from different directions.

There's no one right way to open a story, which is probably why the term itself seems vague. Different stories need different openings; the goal of this topic was to practice one such type of opening. There were two other related threads that explored other types of openings. (I think there had also been debate on the subject in other threads, but I couldn't pinpoint any examples from memory so it's possible I'm incorrect on that score. It has been well over a year. [Razz] )

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extrinsic
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The later discussion is a smoke screen for a different though congruent topic than immersive experience. It's a didactic discussion of a philosophic-ontologic metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations of being, somewhat Existentialist, more so a difference of opinion as regards philosophical schools of thought.

Writing related? The James brothers concerned consciousness's relation to being; Henry James, fiction; and William James, philosophy dissertation. José Ortega y Gasset also concerned philosophy dissertation with a self-relation to external reality emphasis, quote, "Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia," I am I and my circumstance, a re-innovation of Descarte's "I think, therefore, I am." Moral consciousness, in general, is the major philosophy premise. A minor premise differentiates one school of thought from another. The minor premise variable results in widely disparate syllogism conclusions.

Philosophic narratives concern similar assertions and conclusions of moral law. Energeic narratives concern self-discovered moral truth outcomes. Lyric narratives concern vivid and lively poetically equipped language that portrays the human condition as more or less than it truly is. Each in its conventions might create an immediate immersive experience, or all three at once congruent.

Those three types overlap in a fourth-space synthesis within uncommon narratives: moral laws asserted by self-discovered moral truth that are portrayed through poetically equipped language. Irony is a mainstay of such narratives; and they accomplish a Pluralist synthesis of more or less the human condition in all its sublime splendor, wickedness, beauty, goodness, and truth. For example, subtly so, Flannery O'Connor's prose, Alice Munro's, too. Fantastical fiction stretches into those synthesis realms on more than a few occasions from the recent past, say George Orwell's 1984, not so much of late.

[ January 24, 2017, 03:14 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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