About Me

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Elizabeth Bowen: Notes on Writing a Novel

Narrative Magazine published a wonderful essay, originally published in Orion II in 1945, by Elizabeth Bowen. I read these words and it struck a chord: "Plot must further the novel toward its object. What object? The non-poetic statement of a poetic truth." I have personally shortened that statement: "A novel tells a poetic truth." I believe it is possible to write fiction, telling a poetic truth, utilizing the poet's sensitivity to language, not the flowery words that draw attention to themselves, but the turn of phrase that is joyful in the mouth, and in the mind. When I am writing, there are words that fit together, because they must. In revision, they are often tweaked, or deleted altogether, but I find the rhythm and the sound of language shapes the content as I write. Each character has their own rhythm, whether they are speaking or I am writing in limited third (I rarely write in first person). Her entire essay helped define for me, what I do as I write. Here's the link: http://narrativemagazine.com/issues/fall-2006/notes-writing-novel (It's free to sign up for Narrative Magazine, and view the full article.)

1 comment: