Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fewer Words And Desire For More Meaning

A Korean novelist who writes for the Catholic Times has a desire for mini- fiction. Being a novelist she gets quite a few books each month from her acquaintances-- on average over 10. Besides the books she acquires on her own, her work as a novelist, and age, which makes it harder to read and concentrate, she cannot continue as in the past, and so the desire for mini-fiction.

Reading a novel takes time; a short novel probably half a morning, and then there's the time involved in writing --all the while thinking about the novel in her own mind that she wants to write. She wonders at such times, whether her efforts on a novel are worthwhile. Will the novel be of interest and of value to anyone? What will they gain by reading what she has written? These thoughts paralyze her--the dreaded writer's block--and she is not able to continue.

At these times, as a way out of the problem, she plays with the idea of mini-fiction.
A new area of literature in which one writes very briefly, a scene or page-- a novel. In a few lines, you expose exquisitely the core of your story. She mentions South America, where this genre first developed, and the writer Borges.

Going way back in Korean history there were many who succeeded in writing short stories. Spanish novelist, Augusto Monterroso, who was known for his short stories, especially the mini-fiction (complete in seven words): "Upon waking, the dinosaur was still there." And, Hemingway gives us his six word mini-fiction: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

She tells us that Jesus' short stories, his parables, are hard to beat. They were oral stories that have been compiled by the authors of the Gospels and have entertained and instructed many over the last 2,000 years. They are filled with great meaning for all, even with the passage of time.

With the internet and the small bytes that we are getting accustomed to, the future is going to demand fewer words and more meaning. Newspapers are having a difficult time, and we will probably see the impact of the internet on the fiction-reading public in the years to come. Her desire for less pages with more meaning is easily understood.

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