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22700334 Novel Writing Course

22700334 Novel Writing Course

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Published by: hooligun_14106 on Dec 28, 2010
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Writing the Short Novel
Webpage for English Course 531
(minor typos corrected November 18, 2009)
The authors reserve all rights to the content of thiswebpage. None of the content may be copied or reproduced for any purpose. The authors grant individuals the right to read the contents directly from the Internet only and forbid any printing,downloading or public display of the contents.
is copyright 2009 by Eric Pimblu.
Students can use this webpage in conjunction with thecut and dried theory in the course textbook. Thiswebpage is meant to illustrate the theory using anexemplary short novel,
Two Cuckoos
, by Eric Pimblu.Students can study this material by whatever approachthey choose, whether by reading
Two Cuckoos
itself first and then the analysis, or reading the analysissimultaneously with the novel. No chapter receives a full analysis in terms of thetheory. Individual paragraphs are analyzed in varyingterms, some in terms of drama, others in terms of the power struggle between author and reader, others interms of the author’s strategy for convincing reader of his ideas. Many paragraphs are ancillary to crucial paragraphs and so do not merit close analysis. For your convenience, a synopsis of the textbook theoryand a table of definitions are included at the beginning.
Synopsis of the Textbook Theory
The textbook’s theory is rather speculative but provides an excellent heuristic for analyzing the shortnovel. In other words, it is useful without being thelast word in short novel analysis.All art is essentially the aggressive act of the artistimposing his perspective onto others. Artists use
seduction to effect that aim. People who experienceart, subject themselves to the author willingly in order to have their orientation to the world challenged. Theauthor will be forced expend a great deal of ingenuityand trickery in subduing the resistance of less passivereaders.A novel is not mere information as could be foundin a news article. It is the means to an experience.The reactions one has while reading the novel arethose of real life, with all of the emotions, fight or fleehormonal reactions, wishes, anxieties, and other mental and autonomic reactions one would expect inordinary life. Because readers subconsciously treattheir novel-reading experience as real, the conclusionsthey reach through their experience permanentlychange their perspectives on life. To accomplish suchreaction from readers, the author must take advantageof the human instincts that make such vicariousexperiences possible.The human psyche is naturally equipped to blur theline between a real and vicarious experience becausevicarious learning is easy. It is both low-risk andeconomical. Some situations in life occur only rarely,and by experiencing vicariously a person need notwait for special opportunities to present themselves.Learning can then occur without physical experiences.Vicarious experiences are an excellent way for themind to build new practical beliefs while savingenergy and avoiding the risks inherent in real action.This sort of learning-without-doing is vital when weare children, but the desire to continue to learn in thisway continues into adulthood.Unlike a real experience, a vicarious experiencedoes not allow reader to make inputs or get feedback  —or so it would seem. But as the theory proposes,readers do subconsciously attempt to make inputs andget feedback from the novel. By playing-off reader’surges to influence the novel’s action, the author cantrick the reader into accepting author’s perspective asif reader had acquired it himself through a realexperience. Fiction is not a real experience. But asuccessful novel will make a reader feel he has had areal experience, and that the new perspective on life
he acquires from the novel is the result of that realexperience. How the author tricks the reader will beexplained in more detail later. First, we shouldunderstand the cognitive processes that the author manipulates.The human organism is naturally primed to reactquickly to new situations. Humans store concepts bywhich they can quickly derive meaning frominformation. These concepts are the human interfacewith reality, and are termed “schema”. Through itsschema--which are like a computer program--the mindassociates certain information, e.g., events, withcertain preset meanings, which evoke presetresponses. It is as if the mind tries to be as reflexiveas possible.Humans are born with proto-ideas that allow themto use their environments to satisfy their needs beforethey have the opportunity to learn about their environment. Those proto-ideas are called“archetypes”. One archetype, for example, isundoubtedly a positive association with a nurturer,another, with a protector, which a child naturally findsin his parents. Many archetypes have an anti-archetype, e.g., the anti-parent is a witch or devil.When a need arises, a person focuses on an archetypeto fulfill the need. The mind automatically evaluatesinformational input in terms of that archetype. As thehuman matures, he reifies (that is, fleshes-out) theinnate archetypes with features from his environment.The archetype of “nurturer”, for example, becomesassociated with the actual characteristics of his own parents. Behaviorists would call that sort of reification “imprinting”. A reified archetype is called a“schema”.
experiences enlarge the schema by adding knowledge gained by observation, in aneasily accessible, risk-free way.Schema are probably shaped only by a strongstimulus, for example, in response to opportunities tosatisfy needs or avoid potential threats. The novel presents both the need-satisfying opportunities and thethreats.To repeat the definition of schema: it is thearchetype’s interface with reality. It is a formula for 

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