Posted in Tips

Literature and the reader

Commercial literature seeks to produce specific mental states and emotions in the reader such as suspense, anxiety, fear, mystery, romance, intrigue, and curiosity about new or strange things among others, with the goal of providing the reader with an exciting experience. When writing we should create situations that produce this kind of mental states or emotions.

Entertaining literature favors a well-defined plot, with a clear beginning, middle and ending. This way the reader is not concerned in decoding the order of the story or in trying to understand what it is about and then becomes more open to experiencing the emotions being narrated. However, if pieces of the beginning are skipped, the order of pieces of the story is altered or certain aspects of the plot are hidden, something has to be done in order to produce mystery which is one of the mental states we are aiming for.

In general, entertaining literature has a better defined morality. There are “good” and “bad”, there is a hero and a villain. This allows more emotions to be experienced because when we relate with a side (hopefully the “good” side!) our emotions lean that way without asking ourselves constantly if it is something that is morally right or not. Literature in general has more gray areas because it tries to explore or portray the moral duality in human beings.

Posted in Scenes

Scenario: The Theater

Theater is the physical location where an event or a scene unfolds. It’s the container, the box. Each scene can have a different scenario and may even mutate or evolve over the course of the story. There may be many different scenarios in the same setting. If we were to take a photograph of the characters, it would be the section in the background. It’s usually restricted and limited to the immediate vicinity of the characters. A static scenario serves as an introduction and then a few new references can be made. On the contrary, it becomes a resource to demonstrate that characters are in motion, describing the interaction with elements of a changing scenario.

The scenario is where you should follow the phrase of “show, don’t tell”. This means to expose the reader to a scene that engages the senses by means of the letters. You are transporting them to a specific time and inserting them right in the middle of that place. It’s about creating a three-dimensional site instead of just giving a summary of what is visible.

Posted in Genres

Literature Genres

The literature genres, mentioned in my previous post, are usually combined with specific worlds or stages in order to create the following.

Genres based on place / time or “rules” of the world

  • Allows the existence of the supernatural. Stephen King’s Carrie, William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist.
  • Fantasy: parallel worlds in which magic and intelligent beings of other species exist and live along humans. Example: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.
  • Science Fiction: an exploration of the future of humanity and other possible worlds in the universe. The Foundation (series) by Isaac Asimov, Dan Simmons’ Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion.
  • Vampires: Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

It is possible then to mix the goal of stopping a threat with a science fiction stage, the way it is done in many works of the genre.

When mixing romantic stories with a world in which vampires exist, books like Stephanie Meyer’s Eclipse are created.

To search, read and write

If we want to write it is important to identify the kind of books we enjoy reading, read more of those, learn more about the genre and finally write stories with our own personal touch.

Posted in info

What is entertaining literature?

Entertaining literature usually gives the main character a clear goal (catching the responsible for committing a crime, per instance) which is expected to be accomplished by the end. The main character faces adversities but overcomes them, which is satisfying to read. And even if we suspect that the main character will triumph over the challenges and the final test, this does not decrease the excitement of the story because as we relate to him we want him to be successful and we suffer whenever he faces danger. Besides, the mystery of not knowing what his destiny will bring is replaced by the intrigue of knowing how he will win: how will he defeat the seemingly unbeatable villain? How will he decode the seemingly undecipherable mystery? How will he enter the seemingly impregnable fortress?

For this the reason in commercial literature it is desirable for “things to happen”, for the story to move forward towards the accomplishment of the main character’s goal. New events produce mystery and suspense or solve those that were created before. Because of this, the description, the reflection on subjects that do not belong to the plot and the introspection are not so relevant in this kind of literature because they move us away from the emotions we aim to produce through the events in the story. Instead they are important for literature in general because they allow it to accomplish its purpose of inquiring and producing an artistic portrait of human condition.

Posted in Poetry

Melic poetry

In contrast with the other types of poetry, melic poetry uses a rich prosody with various musical rhythms.

The metric of melic poetry is unique because it consists of a combination of the quantity and the number of syllables, not in the repetition of the feet.

Melic poetry is divided in two distinct categories:

C.1 Aeolian melic poetry: is a more personal kind of poetry. It is a type of monadic lyric – that is, it is sung by a single person, while the music is played on a baritone (a music instrument derived from the ancient zither, related to the modern guitar).

The most famous Aeolic melic poets are Alcaeus, Sappho and Anacreon, the latter being known for his drinking songs and hymns.

C.2 Doric poetry: mainly built around patriotic topics (songs for the glory of war heroes, songs dedicated to the winners of Olympic games etc.)

This type of poetry was interpreted by choirs and occasionally was accompanied by music and dance. It has its origins in Sparta, from where it spread to other parts of Greece.

The most renowned representatives of this genres are Alcman, Stesichorus and Pindar, famous for their epinikia – poems and songs praising the winners of Olympic games.

3-Evolution

The elegy and the iambus were developed in Antiquity. The classical era (5th century A.D.) was dominated by choral poetry, whose main representative was Pindar.

With the demise of the great authors of choral poetry, lyrical poetry virtually disappeared.

During the Hellenistic Age (3rd century A.D.) lyric poetry had already been reduced to the mere imitation of antique genres. It wasn’t the people’s poetry anymore, but it had become a cultivated, academic genre, limited to elite authors.

The most predominant names of this era are Callimachus, author of epigrams and elegies, and Theocritus, composer of the famous Idylls – short poems on pastoral love topics. The works of Theocritus had a great influence on the Spanish literature during the Renaissance, as seen in Garcilaso de la Vega’s Eclogues.