In this video, D.D. Johnston introduces an exercise to prompt writers to consider different types of comparisons: direct metaphor, simile, hyperbole, personification, and conceit. Write along!
In this video we look at two descriptions of the same place, which appear at different stages of Zadie Smith’s On Beauty. Although the place is the same, Smith is able to advance the story just by changing the sensory details on which she and her characters focus. Being able to do this, to show rather than tell, to use concrete description as an essential part of the story rather than a background, is central to how most writers work. But do remember that mimesis is not the only way to tell the story: there are many alternatives to the cinematic mode of narration.
Is The Wave your first work to be published? Do you write short fiction as well as longer form?
The Wave is my first full length novel but a few of pieces of my shorter fiction have been published before.
Last year, Australian publisher InShort published one of my stories The Open Cage as a stand-alone chapbook and Philistine Press also published a short collection of stories Ambi & Anspi and other stories.
My short novella Trade is also available from Createspace.
What gave you the idea to write the novel and what gave you the idea to blend metafiction, historical fiction and screenplay? Tell us a bit about The Wave.
The finished novel came together from a number of different places but the nucleus of the idea centered around the character μ and his slow dislocation from reality.
From the start, I wanted to create something that questioned the process of reading and explored this idea of a fictional character crossing over from the real to the unreal while balancing that with real life characters and screenplay elements.
The title itself comes from the concept of a guiding wave, put forward by David Bohm, to describe quantum phenomena. Its a hidden variable theory and suggests that, at a fundamental level, all the interactions in the universe are intimately connected. As such the guiding wave concept tied in with the connections between story and reality I was exploring in the book and this idea of a hidden or implicate order.
How did it feel once the book was finally finished?
It was great to finish the first draft of The Wave but I get a single eureka moment when a piece of writing is ‘done’. Often, the first draft of a section just fits and there is nothing to change but then again for other sections the writing process is more as Borges described it when he said – ‘I do not write, I rewrite’. Getting that balance is the key to getting something that works I think.
In the beginning, cinema took its inspiration from older forms of narrative including literature. But even in the 19th-century, realist writers were comparing their work to photography, and during the 20th-century many prose authors, including Wyndham Lewis and Christopher Isherwood, took inspiration from film. Published in 1960, John Updike’s present-tense novel Rabbit, Run was subtitled originally, “A Movie”, and he was explicit that “The present tense was in part meant to be an equivalent of the cinematic mode of narration.” From what I’ve seen, the cinematic mode of narration often dominates Creative Writing classrooms. But what is it? What are its limitations? And what are our alternatives?
This week’s featured market is Lighthouse.
Lighthouse is a new journal published quarterly to give space and support to new talent. They look to publish the best short fiction and poetry emerging from the UK writing scene. Lighthouse is part of Gatehouse Press, an award winning publishing house for new fiction and poetry. Lighthouse is run on a voluntary basis by a team of editors
Here’s a quick look at their prose guidelines:
- For short fiction, we will not normally be able to print submissions of more than 7000 words. We welcome the submission of shorter prose forms, such as flash fiction and micro-fiction. Please do not send us extracts from longer works, such as chapters from novels, unless they are able to stand alone as complete pieces.
Full submission guidelines here.
Lighthouse is a high quality print publication with a range of talented and experienced editors that want to see work from new writers. What more could you ask for? Get submitting, and good luck!