Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Friday, November 15, 2013

What Kind of Reader are You?

I recently read an article on NPR News (http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/10/04/229190837/want-to-read-others-thoughts-try-reading-literary-fiction) about a study on the ability to infer the thoughts and feelings of others based on the kind of fiction one reads. Those who read more literary fiction tended to be more perceptive about reading “the mind in the eyes” when required to look at black-and-white photos of people. 

It’s an interesting thought—that the ability to judge character may be influenced by your reading choices. Literary fiction is very character-driven. As a reader, you must observe what a character says and does and then render a decision about what is going on in their head. In popular fiction, characters are more stereotypical and there is less guesswork about motives and who is the good guy or bad guy.

So what do you think? Does reading literary fiction train you to be more perceptive about character in your day-to-day life? Do you enjoy reading literary fiction and why or why not?

2 comments:

  1. I almost never read fiction. It seems like a waste of time to me. There are exceptions. Catch-22 is still one of my all-time favorites. I started reading James Fennimore Cooper when I was about 9 or 10 and Last of the Mohicans, although fiction, has an historical base. I enjoyed Gore Vidal's Burr immensely, but again, fiction based on fact so it was a learning experience. Now I read mostly historical non-fiction. I've read everything written by David McCullough and Doris Kerns Goodwin. Currently reading William Manchester's The Last Lion about Churchill.

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    1. Well, I read just about anything--fiction or nonfiction. I'm not particularly interested in fantasy or horror, but just about anything else will do as long as there is a good story line and it's well written.

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