Good Narrative Principles

October 27, 2014
by Lee Eiferman

Women Rule the Reading World

IMG_6131I was at Notre Dame the same time as Nicholas Sparks. And while I didn’t break any track records nor receive a full ride based on my ability to outrun or out jump others as he had, we did attend a handful of classes together. I mention this because every night between the hours of nine and midnight, I hammer out three pages minimum of an historical romance set during the tempestuous and stormy years of the Wild West. It was to my mind, a great time to be a woman with a bent towards adventure.

Just like Nicholas Sparks, I don’t believe in outlines or too much research. It can bog you down. But I do believe in ritual as a way to coax the forces, or whatever you want to call it, to favor me. For instance, whenever I start a new chapter I wear my lucky underwear and socks. Don’t know how these articles of clothes became imbued with the aura of luck but there you have it. I’m stuck with it. I used to go to the gym after dinner and work up a sweat between the hours of nine and ten. Since I’ve taken up writing, I’ve packed on a few pounds and so my lucky underwear pinches my man parts. The socks are red wool — great in the winter but a source of blisters come summer. I could use another lucky object, preferably something a bit more comfortable to help me steer this unwieldy novel safely to harbor.

My wife believes that I should consider writing in another genre, say detective novels or fantasy. But if, like they say, fiction is a supermarket, then I want to be in the aisle with the most shoppers. (Title provided by: Tim Duch)

September 2, 2014
by Lee Eiferman

Writers Block

IMG_5770Used to be Harry’s favorite thing was to head to the bar right after work, order himself a tall one, take out his notebook and start writing. He liked sitting at the end of the bar, at the periphery of the action. That was his sweet spot. There was enough conversation and general noise to work against, but not so much that it drowned out his thoughts.

When he first adopted this habit, he’d bring along his computer, but the possibility of spilled drinks ruined his concentration. The bar was nothing special. They brought out a chafing dish brimming with greasy chicken wings at 5:30 pm that served as dinner. Ten pounds later, he limited himself to beer and chewing gum.

Harry was productive. Everything he saw, thought or felt went into his notebooks. At first, he wrote down daily musings, but gradually his writing took shape. One day, shortly after he swore off chicken wings, Harry realized he was writing a novel. He spent the next few nights chasing the structure as it unfolded before him like a catcher’s mitt. It was joyous. He couldn’t wait until his writing time at night.

Halfway through the novel, the bar closed and was replaced by a nail salon of all things. And just like that, Harry’s muse abandoned him. While he never believed in such seemingly flighty notions as “muse” or “inspiration”, Harry was stuck. He shoved his notebooks into the back of his sock drawer where they would no longer torment him. With his newfound freedom, Harry planned his upcoming vacation to the minute and then started trolling real estate sites to see what was out there. In short, he made mischief until his wife found him a nondescript bar nearby their home that just might do.