Spring thoughts: Literary devices and Genre fiction

Spring has been creeping up, ambushing us with thunderstorms and lightning a week after a snowfall, with downpours that filled holding tanks and turned fields of clay to marshland, havens for the ducks. No flowers. Last spring at this time a solitary iris bloomed in the front garden. Spring Iris, 2014

It’s time to rake the leaves and twigs off the garden beds and plan a fresh covering of mulch. The chores of spring, a relief after a long winter of bone-breaking cold and ice and deep snow.

I’ve lost track of which draft of my work-in-progress I’m working on. It may be the 5th or 6th, but it’s growing closer to what I would like it to be.

That’s the problem, of course. What genre is it? Suspense, women’s fiction, commercial fiction, romantic suspense or my personal favourite: cross-genre.

My aim is a tightly-plotted page-turner that also says something about redemption and renewal in a woman’s life. Too lofty a goal, too literary for a novel that includes a brutal killer and guns?

In the U.K. newspaper, The Guardian,  Anita Mason, whose The Illusionist was shortlisted for the 1983 Booker prize, in an article that was adapted from an Oxford Literary Festival debate said:

So: of course there is a difference between literary and genre fiction. Our experience as readers tells us so, commercial practice says so. But it is not the difference between two continents separated by ocean. It is the difference between the two ends of a continuum. Between those two points is an infinity of fruitful positions.

In the Oxford Literary Festival debate, she spoke against the motion “Genre fiction is no different from literary fiction”. The article is worth the read and can be found here.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/apr/22/genre-fiction-literary-centre-anita-mason

That’s where I aim to be with this work-in-progress, on the continuum, moving a little closer to the hub where literary fiction lives.

Themes, symbols, literary devices of all types: all tools in crafting a novel.

Three Sites to Improve your Writing

8:42 on Sunday morning. A big flock of robins came back yesterday, to feast on the fermenting tiny crabapples on the trees out front. And red-winged blackbirds. Now, they are reliable. Spring must be coming, even though it’s still -8C with the windchill this morning.

Sarah Selecky is a writer and teacher of writing. At the link, among other resources, you can sign up for daily writing prompts. As it happens, I like writing prompts and had some of my first success at Wynter Blue Publishing. They ran a monthly contest—24 hours to write a short story including three provided words.

Sarah asks that you write longhand for 10 minutes, daily, in a notebook, in response to a prompt which may be a word or a writing style or a pov. When I signed up, I wasn’t sure about spending those 10 minutes on a creative exercise. However, it turns out it’s not only a good way to jump-start a writing day, but fun. The prompts drag up long-buried memories and ideas. Today’s reminded me of the head nurse of the ICU in one of my training hospitals, more than forty years ago and her vendetta against orange peel in her wastebasket.

I was scrolling through my saved articles again today and came across one titled 5 Key questions to Ask as You Write your Novel. The author was C.S. Lakin, another writer and teacher. Good advice, worth posting on a sticky at your desk.

Ten Literary Devices and where to Find Them in Science Fiction, a post by Annalee Newitz on iO9 makes the devices clear by referencing popular movies and television. I especially liked onomatopoeia, demonstrated by the entire Klingon language, from Star Trek.

That’s about it for today. I’m about a third of the way through a revision of my work in progress and must get back to it.

10 Literary Devices

I was browsing my writing files today. You know the kind, a dump for every website or blog you come across that has information that might be useful someday. I have two: Writing about Writing and a catch all Writing Stuff. Interesting items in both, especially one about writing devices.

Writing devices have names like aporia and pathetic fallacy and if like me, you’re a writer whose last formal English course was in 1st year, the definitions are murky at best or absent at worst from memory. The website below discusses 10 and relates them to Science Fiction, mostly movies, that make the use clear. Annalee Newitz posted it in 2012 and it’s well worth a read.

http://io9.com/5930325/10-literary-devices-and-where-you-can-find-them-in-science-fiction

Beautiful day in Southern Ontario and the weather promises to be seasonal and sunny for the next week!

I’m revising my WIP and still marketing The Child on the Terrace while waiting for my reviewers. If anyone would like an ARC, please let me know.

http://booklaunch.io/10202081974970941/54ccf3fd68a94f561bcb20af