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Showing posts from June, 2012

NARRATIVE DESIGN - Where Does it Flatline in Your Book?

In doing a clear out of books (always painful, but in a tiny house like mine, necessary), I came across Narrative Design by the fabulous Madison Smartt Bell. I studied with Madison at Goucher and still count him as mentor and friend (his wife, Elizabeth Spires, is a tremendous poet). They have both always been very supportive of me and their work has always inspired. So I took the appearance of this book as a kind of message to me from him, an answer to the question I'd been asking myself lately about the structure of a novel I'm almost finished writing. I'd even go so far as to say he was giving me instructions.

Tucked between its pages I found a handout given to students in Madison's English 315 class. I can't remember exactly What English 315 was, surely a fiction workshop. The handout is called "Four Coordinates" and he describes it as "a set of measurements for evaluating technique in a work already composed. Even as such, it is too limited. Y…