Category: Food for the Hungry Writer

The Language of Fiction is Word-pictures

The language of fiction is word-pictures © 2013 by Robert J. Ray Word-pictures, whether they stand still like photographs, or whether they roar like the wind, come from concrete nouns: “In the late summer of that year, we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains.” This famous word-picture opens A Farewell to Arms (1929), a war-novel by Ernest Hemingway. There are two abstract nouns in this opening sentence – summer and year – and five concrete nouns: house, village, river, plain, mountains. There is one object – the house – anchoring  four generic landmarks: village, river, plain, and mountains. The ratio of concrete nouns to abstract is 5:2, enough concrete nouns to paint a picture that locks down the opening of the novel. The view is panoramic, like a photograph or a landscape painting. The narrator is First Person. The pronoun “we” links the narrator – a volunteer ambulance driver from the American midwest in search of love and adventure in the Great War of 1914-1918 – to  his ambulance driver buddies. The word-picture in this opening line puts an implied distance between the narrator in the village and the fighting in the mountains, where the Italians battle their Austrian neighbors. The distance comes from the active verb of perception (looked) and the adverb of distance (across) and...

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Who Do You Listen To?

Who Do You Listen To? After I came across a very brave and unique novel titled: Taliban Escape by Aabra  which was reviewed in The Dark Phantom Review, I remembered an exchange I had with a fellow writer and former student. I want to post it here for anyone visiting this blog as a reminder of why we write: Writer: I’m trying hard to maintain the last bit of writing advice you provided, “write what you want, the way you want.” That’s hard, especially with two friends criticizing it. Right now, if I take them seriously, I need to go back and almost start over with my work-in-progress.” JR: Yes, that’s a tough one. One short answer is to listen but choose what to change if anything. The way I see it, we have this ideal story in our heads. It’s endless, but when you write, the readers plug in what you write and if it doesn’t connect somewhere to the universal story, they get this disjunction and their pencils move. What that gives us then is the issue of who’s doing the writing. But even deeper is the question of vision–-readers want you to tell them the story they want to hear. It’s your job to tell them a story they’ve never heard. If you can’t get past the universal, then you add nothing to the inventory of...

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New Tips for the 2012 Nanowrimo

                                                                                 Nanowrimo 2012—Prep Work Don’t wait until Zero Hour to start writing for Nanowrimo. Here are some tips for preparing yourself for the long haul–50,000  words. 1. Place. What’s the main setting for your novel? How many locations do you use more than twice? Where does your Page One open? Does it open in a cave? On a spaceship hurtling past dark stars? Does it open in a laundromat (see Jack Remick’s Blood)? Does it open on a lonely beach road, a car chase (see Robert Ray’s Bloody Murdock)? Does it open in a boudoir with a bidet? Does it open in the cage of a Werewolf? Does it open in the Oval Office? In the Situation Room? In a school with a student shooting a poison dart at the teacher? 2. Character. Profile your five major characters. Protagonist, Antagonist, Helper One, Antag One, Helper Two. For each main character, jot down these info-bits: Back Story Trauma Motive Agenda Want Need Can’t have.   3. Back Story. For each major character, write 3-5 pages of back story. To connect the back story to your Page One, use this simple method of increasing the distance in time: Startline: An hour before the book opens, the protagonist was…. Startline: A week before the book opens, the protagonist was…. Startline: A year before the book opens, the protagonist was…. Startline: Five years...

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HUNGRY WRITER SERIES

Food for the Hungry Writer is a series of informative essays by Jack Remick and Robert J. Ray (© 2012) discussing Story, Memoir & Journal, and the Power of Writing Practice (as discussed in Natalie Goldberg’s book Writing Down The Bones.) and other topics as they are developed.

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Food for the Hungry Writer ~ Story

Story A good story somehow gets inside your brain. A good story tells you something you already know, but more than telling you what you already know, a good story also makes you feel. If you, the writer, don’t feel the story, your reader won’t feel it. To make the reader feel, we have to use the tricks storytellers have known for centuries. One of the tricks storytellers use is to build a story on a myth base. The language of a good story draws you past the language into its myth base. A good story that hooks you into a myth base feels familiar even while it is brand new to you. Even while you read Cold Mountain, example, you feel that it is a deep story, that there is more to it than the journey of a solder home from the American Civil War. It is a story about Getting Home. It is the Odyssey, the Aeneid, it is Everyman who has ever been lost and looking for a place to rest. That is the myth base working in you. As language draws you into the story’s myth base, you, as a reader, don’t know until it happens, so there is a bit of a mystery there, while you, the writer need to know how to put the myth base under the language so your reader can...

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©2010-2017 Jack Remick, Robert J. Ray. All rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including text and images, without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Short excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jack Remick and Robert J. Ray and "Bob and Jacks Writing Blog" with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.