The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Itchin’ for some Fiction pt.1

with one comment

It’s a funny thing, writing.

Like I need to remind myself.  Or you.

I got to writing a story 2 weeks ago, and got so absorbed in it that I forgot the primary purpose behind this blog…  which is to serve as a metacognitive journal for my writing.  Plus other stuff.  So I’ve been heavy on the “other stuff” for a while now.  So heavy, in fact, that I’ve ignored the metacognitive part.  Until now, when I suddenly remember that I can talk out a few things here and settle some issues with my story.

The funny thing about this new story is that it is fiction.  Fiction.  The “F” word in my writing vocabulary.  I don’t write fiction.  I don’t like fiction.  Fiction is too structured.  Fiction is too vague.  Fiction is too ordinary.  Fiction is too unbelievably extraordinary.  Fiction is too hard.  Fiction is too stuck-up.  Fiction curries too much favor from the academically elite minds that dominate the craft of writing, which in turn enables fiction to make my beloved Creative Non-fiction its literary bitch.

I’ll credit two sources for this sudden shifting of gears.  One would be my friend Nath Jones, who recently joined a writer’s group that I’ve been part of for two years.  She’s the first fiction writer to join us, and it must be something about her psychic waves lapping at the shores of my mind (I’m not the only one…  Matt Wood, another CNF writer in our group, just gave us a piece of fiction he wrote).  My second source would have to be David Foster Wallace and a piece he had in The New Yorker a few weeks back.  It got me to thinking about how fiction writers can create and use Allegory to broaden their themes (I did a little digging to be sure I was using the correct term…  A Handbook to Literature told me that allegory is a form of extended metaphor in which objects and persons in a narrative are equated with meanings that lie outside the narrative itself…  Thus it represents one thing in the guise of another [another special shout-out to my man Herb, who gave me AHL when he retired]).  Check out “All That” to see how Wallace does it.
So I got to thinking about how I can work to add a skill like that to my writing repertoire.  I must have just needed to announce to myself that I was interested in that, because about 3 days later, in the midst of some cognitive processing, I was blindsided by something.  And it wasn’t my usual CNF impulse, which usually feeds me parts of stories.  This sucker came to me in its entirety– the whole thing dropped into my lap.  So now I am tasked with chiseling and shaping it until I get the story in the best form I know how.  But I’m not dealing with allegory in my story…  more like it’s kid brother Symbolism.  Still, it’s a step in a new direction.

I’ve touched upon a significant difference between fiction and non-fiction.  Fiction writers intentionally create symbols and allegories to further their themes.  The fiction writer doesn’t announce those meanings; he implies them and leaves the rest to the reader.  A simple example of this is the titular mockingbird of To Kill a Mockingbird.  But allegory and symbolism aren’t indigenous to the CNF ecosystem, because CNF deals with real life.  In real life, man makes symbols intentionally, and is intentional with their meanings.  A simple example of this is my friend Jim’s 1990 Indiana State Football Championship ring.  It was intentionally designed to symbolize everything about that season, his school, his team, his work ethic… 

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Written by seeker70

January 9, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. […] and am at least somewhat adept at making it a part of my fiction (I first stumbled upon this a few years ago), but to see a master novelist craft an entirely symbolic scene is something I hadn’t noticed […]


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