A Matter of Emphasis….

The writer of literary fiction chooses which story elements to emphasize in her story very, very deliberately. Do you notice these story elements? Probably not the first time through the story. The first time through, the reading brain is trying to get oriented in the world, get to know its characters, and figure out what’s going on — all the while judging if all of the elements (why am I using “elements” so much?) above are interesting enough to stay engaged with this fictional world. This being the state of things, exactly WHAT should the writer choose to emphasize in her stories to keep the reader engaged and fulfilled–especially upon a second or third reading?

The Austin Writing Workshop discusses all of this and more on Saturday Show Podcast #67.

More elaborate details, including rough timestamps are included below:

0:00 Excerpt from a story by an Austin Writing Workshop member

1:23 Frank’s introduction to the podcast

2:40 Group discussion about a writer’s choice of emphasis, including choice of literary techniques, what the writer was going for, the emphasis of typical literary stories, postmodernism, fantasy and vampires, dialogue, David Mamet, Lars Von Trier films, everyone dying, art for art’s sake.

8:06 Group discussion about an essay/op-ed by Thomas Pynchon (http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/05/18/reviews/pynchon-sloth.html), including thesis, development, flow, resonance, cleverness, purpose of essays vs. stories, Pynchon’s work overall and common elements, muddled theme, The Crying of Lot 49, intense research, the effectiveness of expecting readers to become detectives, neuroticism, an AWW member’s puzzles in stories, Greek Gods, Pynchon’s attempt to show off and its attractiveness or repulsiveness, obscurity of puzzle references, Umberto Ecco, The Name of the Rose, self-referentiality, A&P intertextuality, Pynchon’s references to history and evidence, Pynchonian themes of what it means to be American and American history, missing the point of the essay, literary themes in general, emphasis on humor to the exclusion of other techniques, Pynchon’s reclusivity, The Simpsons, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, the hardships of fame, the asociability of writers, Chuck Palahniuk, J.D. Salinger, and “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.”

25:56 Group discussion about an Austin Writing Workshop member’s story, including the date of the story, first-draft issues, strength of the story, connecting the elements of the story, theme of the fact that love doesn’t work, stand-out lines, resonance with The Crying of Lot 49, rewarding of a second reading of the stories, repetition of symbolic elements, character empathy and how plot reflects on character empathy, emphasis on time symbolism, living in the now vs. fleeing from the now and living in the distractions of modern life, “time” words, elements in stark relief, Raymond Carver, Richard Ford, “Rock Springs,” story details, lack of intimacy with the main character, vulnerability, creating intimacy through plot, showing change in the main character, superficial ways of creating empathy with characters, ability of plot elements to draw the reader in, societal-level meanings of stories, John Steinbeck, Charlotte Perkins-Gilman, subconscious or intuitive writing, discursiveness, mawkishness, the theme of Optimism, Richard Ford-like characters, the opposite of the Tao Lin story, stories becoming something out of the control of the writer and facilitaing multiple interpretations.

53:51 Group discussion about the movie “Melancholia,” including the decadence of the first 15 minutes and the question of whether it is earned or not, cliched art, Marie Antoinette, Kirsten Dunst, cinematography, review of the acting in the film, use of foreshadowing, interesting science of the movie, Lars Von Trier’s work overall, Kiefer Sutherland, big budget vs. small budget films, likeability of characters, douchenozzles, plot summary, symbolism of the planets’ paths, golf and hail and horses as representative of the elitist lifestyle, “Eyes Wide Shut” comparison, more discussion of the great Salinger story, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” the “depression trilogy,” Nietzsche and comparison to Bible passages, the violence of women, and a reviewer’s comments from ScreenRobot.com.

1:19:36 End of podcast

Posted by Frank Marcopolos

Frank Marcopolos founded "The Whirligig" literary magazine in 1999, which has been called "a landmark, demonstrating the power of the literary underground." It has been said that "you get this true lion-roaring sense that Editor Frank Marcopolos knows what he likes, and how to read, and how to publish, and he has guts, and eats insects on Wheaties with bleach." His long-form fiction has been reviewed with such praise as "thorough-goingly entertaining" and "highly readable...recalls the style of Michael Chabon or John Irving. A literary gem that should not be missed." A broadcasting-school graduate, his unique literary-audio work has been featured in movie trailers, scholastic environments, and on YouTube, with one of his audiobooks achieving over 100,000 "views" there.

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  1. […] The Austin Writing Workshop discusses all of this and more on Saturday Show #67. […]

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