The production of literature

libro antico con pennaThe production of literature has always been the matter of scientific interest, usually involving different areas of knowledge. How do authors produce their works of fiction?

The best and most obvious answer is that there are no rigid rules. But an American researcher interviewed five writers, and proposed to outline some common denominators of literary writing. Two of them were beginners, just about to launch their first books, two were intermediate writers, already with some publications, and a senior writer of great renown in the country was also interviewed. Although each one described a very special form of production style, the researcher was able to find some common grounds.

When asked what triggered the development of their works, the authors in general spoke of “seed events”. Such events were facts abnormal to their daily routine events that marked the writers by showing them something they did not know. Thus, sharing an apartment with a 100-year-old proprietary, interviewing Holocaust survivors, observing a once racist person now carrying an Afro-American baby in her arms, were facts reported by the authors as “seed events”, events that propelled them writing. Such events bring mystery, are intriguing, touching and mobilizing. They are starting points.

Another common denominator is the preference for a writing kingdom. Even before the occurrence of the “seed event”, the writer would have founded a writing kingdom, a physical setting, a place where he could write. A place to let go the writing; an inviting lonely set propitious for him to put his ideas on the paper. “Seed events” often occur in the context of such places. These sites can bring memory seed events, that have occurred in the past, for example. There may be different locations, each involving a “cognitively” specific: a place where people will feel more melancholic, the other where they feel more rational, and so on.

After the “seed events”, they travel between the realm of writing and what they call the fictional world. They oscillate between a more rational writing (the writing world, the real world), and an unplanned and spontaneous writing (fictional world). In the world of writing generally more technical aspects such as the choice of narrative voice are thought. When they talk about this world authors usually employ the first person as “I decided to do this and that with such a character,” “I wanted it to happen in the plot,” etc. On the other hand in the fictional world more passive terms are used, where the characters are more prone to take over, they take over even the author. Ideas flow with more spontaneity, it is the place of the irrational, the emotional, and there the fiction world happens.

Another interesting occurrence that was reported was the degree of contact that authors have with their characters. They are moved by them, they talk to them, ask questions, they sense them, etc. They feel responsible for them. Characters are people like any other, which they could have known in the real world, but are not replicas of someone they know or knew in fact. If on the one hand the world of writing is lonely and wrapped with technique, the fictional world is characterized, on the other hand, by being populated by many characters invented by the writer, by the affection and excitement they bring. Characters act and events take place in this context, many times despite the control or the author’s desire.

Finally, the authors also spoke of the lapses that occur in the preparation of fiction. Sometimes they spend long periods without writing and get back in the fictional world. In these moments they even believe they have lost the voice in fiction, undergoing truly re-entry processes. After the completion of the work, there can also be lapses as these. That’s why, generally speaking, that “push to the complexion of the work should be strong, for it needs to be sustained over long periods of time, through frustration, disruption and feelings of defeat.”


Ref.: Doyle, CL. The Writer Tells: The Creative Process in the Writing of Literary Fiction. Creativity Research Journal 1998, 11(1):29-37.

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