5.20.2010

Violence in Fiction

If we take that journey to the center of conflict, that great narrative crux upon which effective storytelling is based, then we very frequently find ourselves at the doorstep of violence. There's overt violence, of the kind we see in Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find." There's psychological violence, of the sort we see in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper." There's passive violence, as in William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily."

It takes all forms, and its almost always present (at least in the types of stories I read)...

On her story (and violence in general), O'Connor says:

I suppose the reasons for the use of so much violence in modern fiction will differ with each writer who uses it, but in my own stories I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace.

I love that quote, and I see her point very clearly. The truth of our existence is there in that moment of epiphany, found at the center of conflict. There's a sadness in that reality, but also an urgency. I think the best fiction reveals those moments.

I'm writing something brand new for me. Most of my garden is neat--very organized and regular, with all my little darlings lined up in a row. This thing, though...it's growing on the outskirts of the tended earth. It's a big, burly weed, a thing with stinging nettles.

I hope it turns out well...

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