Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Reiken. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reiken. Show all posts

24 August, 2016

Frederick Reiken, "The Author-Narrator-Character Merge"

An excellent essay opens the book, A Kite in the Wind: Fiction Writers on Their Craft, by Frederick Reiken. One of the most helpful sections follows:

"Most third-person narratives proceed with constant modulation of the psychic distance, moving like a camera eye between long-range establishing shots and very limited, close-range character point of view, and then back out to longer-range shots again. But in a case in which the author has not fully imagined the point-of-view character--often because the author has not yet truly conceived the character as a bona fide other--the ANC relationship gets structured so that there is little or no psychic distance between narrator and character, no way for us to see the character moving through a setting or situation, and hence, though unintentionally, what I am calling a merged effect." ... "That is, the most we get is a sense of being inside the character's head, but we can never actually see him."

ANC=author, narrator, character

"Underlying every Chekhov story is an implicit separation of author, narrator, and character, such that Chekhov was fully able to write entertaining stories about boring characters, sympathetic stories about flawed characters, and so on."

The essay, in total nearly twenty pages, has about six pages of "How to Unmerge."

Excellent, excellent.

12 December, 2009

Frederick Reiken and Anton Chekov

Read a great article by Frederick Reiken in the December 2009 issue of The Writer's Chronicle entitled, "The Legacy of Anton Chekhov." His list of Chekhovian techniques, paraphrased. 1. attention to details of psyche 2. structured 3. not much exposition 4. no judgements of characters, authentic display 5. precision 6. tone that is not flamboyant or stylized 7. psychological 8. no neat resolution

And, this quote Reiken takes from a 1888 letter Chekhov wrote to his publisher/editor, Alexis Suvorin: "You are right in demanding that an artist should take an intelligent attitude to his work, but you confuse two things: solving a problem and stating a problem correctly. It is only the second that is obligatory for the artist."

It is an obvious point but I forget that was not the case in the late 19th century.

From page 27 of the Dec. 2009 issue, "Again, the only requirement of the author, in Chekhov's pedagogy, is that of being clear with regard to the parameters of the situation in which the protagonist is involved. In short, a Chekhov story requires, first and foremost, an alliance with the experience of the character. This is indeed what it means to show, don't tell, as a Chekhovian story must show us how a character acts and reacts and then allow us to make our own judgments."

Submitted my story, "His Parents and My Parents" to the Zoetrope Virtual Studio for reviews.