Saturday, August 31, 2013

Day 237 of the 365 Days of Blogging

The author, Dane F. Baylis






If you've read any of my earlier posts, you're familiar with the fact that I kind of cast a wide net when it comes to what I write. I look at it as literature, using the commonly accepted classification of two major forms - fiction and non-fiction, and two major techniques - prose and poetry. Along the way I have spent time in one or the other exclusively for limited periods but always returned to the mixed art approach.
If asked why, I would have to honestly answer that saddling myself with one or the other for any long period of time would be plain boring. Like making love in the same damned position every time. After a while even that enjoyment would get monotonous. Granted, there are some, in both the scribbling and diddling camps, who maintain that orthodoxy is the soul of mastery. I'd have to survey the audience on that one!
Simply put, the disciplines required in any of the forms, when applied skillfully and with real sincerity and thought, are the key to really expanding the writer's palette. If you want to learn how to improve the symbols and metaphors, the descriptive language of your prose, then learn to master poetry. Oh, and just so you know, if you think free verse is a free ride, you're already on the other side of delusional.
The same is true in the inverse. Learn to write clear, concise, well crafted and emotionally resonant short fiction and you will be on a path to becoming a better poet. There's an old tale of William Faulkner challenging a young Ernest Hemingway, already recognized as a master of tight, crisp prose, to write a complete story in as few words as possible. The result?
            "For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn."
A story of tragic poignancy delivered in six words. You need no more than what he gave you to connect with the entire scenario, its cause and effect and the emptiness that would result. We can all look at those six words and see, in our mind's eye, the characters and events that compose a tale of far greater breadth. Do we need any more to get to where Hemingway was taking us?
Short fiction informs novella and novel length work. If you can build a strong, complete tale in the space of three to seven thousand words, you can build chapters. Chapters add up and eventually become novels. Novels become series and careers get going. The wine, women, and riches part...Good luck with that.
I just submitted a short story. How short? Almost three hundred and thirty words. Written in inner dialogue, it gives you access not only to the physical occurrences in the story, but also takes you into the mental anguish of the main character. If it was that good, why not take it further? It didn't need it. Could it go further? Sure, but I was looking for a tale of brevity, strength, and empathy. I think I nailed it. Now it's up to an editor.
My point? Even if you never bring out the other writing you do, if it never sees the light of day, your main focus will be better for the exercise. The brain is often typified as a muscle. A thinking machine that thrives in a healthy body, while being stretched and challenged daily. The choice is yours, a literary decathlete, or overweight water boy watching from the bench!
Just a helpful hint from your Uncle Dane.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------, love, write something you wouldn't normally think of trying. (Works in the love department, too.)
Want to follow or subscribe to this blog? There are gadgets for that on the right side of the page. You can leave comments in the form below. I can be reached directly at . You can also find links to some of the sites I visit from time to time on the right. I'm also looking for submissions to the Your Work/Your Love page. Authors retain all rights.
Dane F. Baylis

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