Monday, January 9, 2012


The biggest failing of most novelists is that their work lacks form.. Aristotle, I'm told, believed literature had three sections. I'm more familiar with chess than with Aristotle. Chess games have three parts also-- the opening, the middle game, and the end game. If you don't have a solid opening you'll lose the game. In the middle game you develop your themes, your narrative lines. In the end game the lines need to come together in a dynamic conclusion.

Note the three sections to my story, "Bluebird," in my 99-cent ebook, Mood Detroit, available via Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

The novel I'm writing will have a striking conclusion. I hope it checkmates the reader. (Surprise and drama.)

As a writer, reader, and book reviewer, I'm impressed by form, by the idea, the realization, that an author knows exactly what he or she is doing. I like the high that comes with the experience of form.

One reason I value the long-forgotten American novelist James Gould Cozzens is that his best novels have near-perfect form. Check out The Just and the Unjust and Guard of Honor some time for their balance, their architecture. Balance-- artistic form--is an imitation of the balance of the universe. Of the artistic intelligence of God.

Ideally, a novel achieves the right balance of elements; plot, characters, setting, in which every element expresses the work's themes, its overarching vision. The expression of meaning is enabled by form.

What novels would YOU give as examples of balance and form?

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