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Jan's Master Class--STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Postby glorybee » Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:44 am

Excellent, Leah!

It seems that there are more stream-of-consciousness pieces out there than I had remembered. (Glad you found your cute guy that loves Jesus).

And...about the nurse thing...as a hospital patient twice in the past 5 months, I should say, on behalf of patients everywhere...sorry.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby glorybee » Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:48 am

Holly, again you've made me grin by putting a kitty in your stream-of-consciousness. Too bad I already gave Steve this week's gold star. It's a great example, though--jumps from one subject to another, just like real thoughts do.

Glad to hear that you've got a dress for the wedding! Tell me about it! (e-mail, if you wish...)

And you're absolutely right about prayer being a monologue of sorts. I'm sure there are several "prayer" entries in the Challenge; I just didn't have the energy to look for them.

Anyone out there got a "prayer" entry to link to?

Oh, one more thing--why do cats like bathtub water? Mine does, too!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby yvonne » Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:04 pm

Jan, these are especially challenging! I like your idea of someone writing a letter from jail. I think the reason we tend to lean toward the sick and dying for this style is because they usually have something important they want to tell. Here's another POV...
(I think you could call this stream of thought)

Wake up! Wake up! I'm crying in here! I'm wet and miserable and starving. Wake up!

Oh, it's you, Dada. I guess it doesn't matter who picks me up as long as I don't have to lay in that cage anymore. Oh! You're a bit rougher with that washcloth than Mama is. By the way, the tabs go on the front, not the back, and you missed a couple snaps.

Look at me, Dada. I'm trying to smile at you.Look me right in the eyes. Talk to me. I want to know you, too.

Are we going to see Mama now? I hope so. I'm so hungry, I could guzzle a whole cow.

Oh, Mama, you smell so sweet.I love you too, but where's the milk?


I couldn't find any of my WC's with internal monolgues. I think I'll try it sometime, though. I've got some good ideas. Here's something I wrote for something else and posted in reprints: Renewed

I can't to see what your next set of lessons will be!

Vonnie

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Postby swfdoc1 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:37 pm

glorybee wrote:Steve, you've flummoxed me. I've never thought of a monologue or stream-of-consciousness in third person before.

I'm still thinking about it. My suspicion is that it's not really a monologue...but I don't know if there's a name for it. Whatever it is, it has an interesting effect on the reader. It's as if we're privvy to her inner thoughts, but there's still a distancing factor: the 'she' as opposed to 'I'.

It takes a very good writer to do what you've done there; I'm pretty sure I've never attempted it, nor could I do it well. I've been studying your little paragraph for a few minutes now. I like it, a lot. You get the gold star this week, for knowing more than the teacher.


I think what I have done is described by the last 2 sentences of the following paragraph:

When first person narration is internalized, it becomes interior monologue. According to Harmon, the interior monologue is "a technique for presenting the stream of consciousness of a character" and "it assumes the unrestricted and uncensored portrayal of the totality of interior experience" (266). As such, it may present sensations and emotions through images and give the appearance "of being illogical and associational" (266). Harmon says further that the narration of the internal monologue may take either a direct or an indirect form. With the former, the narrator does not even seem to exist, and it is as if the reader were simply overhearing "an articulation of the the stream of thought and feeling flowing through the character's mind" (266). With the indirect method, "the author serves as selector, presenter, guide, and commentator" on the thoughts and feelings of the character whose mind he has entered. Frye, Baker, and Perkins remark that indirect interior monologue is "a form of third-person omniscient narration" that presents thoughts as seen from within the mind but expressed in the words of an external narrator" (244).

The source is http://www.moonstar.com/~acpjr/Blackboa ... tView.html

I didn't know this when I wrote it, I just knew what I was trying to accomplish.
Steve
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“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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Postby Symphonic » Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:41 pm

Okay, here goes:

Stream of consciousness... reminds me of Chicago... Larry and Susan’s apartment, their two big fluffy cats... (They called one of them “Phydeaux”--pronounced it “Fido”--)... and Larry saying, “I’ll loan you Ulysses, you’ve got to read it...” And I had to take it, because I was, after all, a grad student... and even if Joyce wasn’t required reading at Andrews, I’d be going on for the doctorate, somewhere that required that sort of thing... So I took it, pasted on a fake-grateful smile, tried to read it... guess I read some of it... And I never told Larry that I hated every word...

If the counter on my word processor is correct, that’s exactly 100 words of stream of consciousness drivel. But maybe even that is too structured... so I’ll try again:

Got to get back... two hours around the lake, can’t stand driving through Gary... Phydeaux doesn’t want to move... “Love you, sweet kitty, but I’ll never get the fur off this wool skirt...” Think I packed everything... “Carol, you still want to borrow Ulysses, right?”... No, I don’t want to borrow it, never wanted to... Can’t say that, though... “Sure, I’ll try to get through it...” Probably won’t see them for a couple of months, maybe can read a few pages before then... Know I’ll hate it, can already tell... Got to check the bathroom, did I leave my toothbrush in there?

Ugh. It’s painful to write that way--almost as painful as reading it, I imagine. Everything I wrote is part of a real memory, but it would be meaningless to most readers. Stream of consciousness, in its purest (?) form is exclusionary. In order to really understand it, you either have to know the writer extremely well, or have footnotes.

Nevertheless, I think it might be possible to write something meaningful that way. I probably couldn’t do it, but a highly skilled writer might be able to tell a familiar story--a Bible story, perhaps--through the disordered thoughts of one of the characters. (Isaac, as Abraham prepared to sacrifice him... that might work...) In that case, the reader would know enough about the story already that it would make sense. But even though it would sound disordered, it would actually have to be very deliberate--every single word chosen for specific effect.

I like the idea of internal monologue much better, and I’m beginning to discover that it works well for the Challenge. And Jan, thanks so much for the lesson on POV. I’m so glad I happened upon your class that week! I started thinking about ways I could experiment with different points of views, and I think it’s sharpened my writing, especially during this very... well... challenging quarter!

I’m not sure that my Canada story qualifies as an “internal monologue” in every sense, but maybe it’s close?

Song of the Voyageur
http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article-level3-previous.php?id=27578

I thought about writing this from a third-person POV, but then I realized it wouldn’t work. This particular story needed a single perspective--a perspective that was somewhat limited and focused. A seeker, you might call him--not a profoundly deep thinker, but quite deep compared to most of those around him. Anyway, I was pleased with this one. It just felt right to me, if that makes sense.

My India story also uses this technique (though in a different way), and I have a really unusual idea for the Europe story that I think will be closer to a true internal monologue. I’m not sure I can pull it off, or that anyone will like it if I do, but I’m going to try. I think the key, as you said, is to write about an interesting MC with a distinct voice. And when you’re writing for the Challenge, you only have to sustain it for 750 words. Anything much longer than that would be a much greater challenge!

But I’ve rambled long enough. I guess thinking about stream of consciousness encourages that!

Carol S.

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Postby OKGuardianAngel » Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:49 pm

Ok.. here's my attempt:

“It’s been such a long night, and the silence is too much. It hurts to move, but if I don’t, I’ll be too stiff to get up. It just doesn’t seem right… I’m only 47. If only it was aches and pains from age. If only I could sing… talk… get out sometimes… I’m glad I have family that helps out. If only the pain didn’t make writing so hard. Conversations are so difficult these days… but I’m glad I still have ways to communicate. Who would have thought that a little tick could do so much damage?”

I was trying to put myself in the place of a friend of the family who has suffered a long time from lyme disease and think of what he might be thinking. The disease wasn't caught early enough, and it's progressed to severe nerve damage... the most recent difficulty being the inability to speak. I can't even imagine how much he's suffered from it, and still manages to keep a good attitude.

I don't know if that works or not, but I had to try. :)

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Postby glorybee » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:29 pm

Vonnie, "Renewed" is wonderful! I'm so glad to have read it, as I don't wander into Regular Submissions very often.

I like your baby internal monologue, too--makes me happy to think about my upcoming grandbaby!
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Postby glorybee » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:43 pm

Symphonic wrote: It’s painful to write that way--almost as painful as reading it, I imagine. Everything I wrote is part of a real memory, but it would be meaningless to most readers. Stream of consciousness, in its purest (?) form is exclusionary. In order to really understand it, you either have to know the writer extremely well, or have footnotes.

Nevertheless, I think it might be possible to write something meaningful that way. I probably couldn’t do it, but a highly skilled writer might be able to tell a familiar story--a Bible story, perhaps--through the disordered thoughts of one of the characters. (Isaac, as Abraham prepared to sacrifice him... that might work...) In that case, the reader would know enough about the story already that it would make sense. But even though it would sound disordered, it would actually have to be very deliberate--every single word chosen for specific effect.


Excellent thoughts on stream of consciousness, Carol! I really hope someone takes this and runs with it in a future Challenge. And you're right--750 words is just about enough.

And Carol, I think at least the first part of your Canada was very internal monologue-ish. Once the other characters are introduced, not so much.

Can't wait to read your Europe entry!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby glorybee » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:46 pm

OKGuardianAngel--that's an internal monologue that definitely fulfills its purpose--helping the reader to understand the frustration of being trapped in a body that's not co-operating.

If you'd done it more realistically--with the true rambling nature of thoughts--we wouldn't be able to empathize so much, because we'd be working too hard to make sense of his ramblings. So...well done!
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Postby Verna » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:00 pm

I tried an idea once with a gifted English class where we agreed we would pick up a journal and write just as soon as we woke up in the morning (before restroom, coffee, anything!)--write whatever came out of our minds, unadulterated by any thoughts of the day. We did this for several weeks, and I think all enjoyed the results. You'd be surprised how much you remember from your dreams before your feet hit the floor. I wrote several little poems from mine, which I've lost. I remember one line: The age fairies were busy again in the night penciling blue lines on the back of my knees. I planned to try it again sometime, but just never got around to it.

Another type of stream of consciousness I tried was "script taping" --where you just write everything you observe as though you had a movie camera. This is a piece, every word true, that came from that. I did finalize it after the "script tape."
http://www.faithwriters.com/article-det ... p?id=79118
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Postby Symphonic » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:16 pm

I really hope someone takes this and runs with it in a future Challenge.


Okay, now the stream-of-consciousness version of the Abraham/Isaac story is starting to sound intriguing to me for a future Challenge entry. But I suppose I have only myself to blame if someone else tries it first! :)

Carol S.

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Postby glorybee » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:22 pm

Verna wrote:I remember one line: The age fairies were busy again in the night penciling blue lines on the back of my knees.

Another type of stream of consciousness I tried was "script taping" --where you just write everything you observe as though you had a movie camera. This is a piece, every word true, that came from that. I did finalize it after the "script tape."
http://www.faithwriters.com/article-det ... p?id=79118


Verna, this bit with the age line fairies just about killed me! *snort*

And I really, really love the "script tape" idea.

People--go read that highlighted piece! It's rich!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Allison » Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:10 pm

Okay, so I'm going to post my entry that's closest to a "true" monologue. But almost all of my 1st person fiction entries have at least one line spoken by another character. I do have a few journal/letter and other unique format entries that don't have any dialogue, but I don't think those would count as monologue.

So here's the closest I could come.

He Bore My Cross

I suppose my next challenge is to write a monologue that has no words spoken by other characters.
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Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV)

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Postby glorybee » Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:35 pm

That one works for me, Allison. I really like the voice of your character, there. Well done!
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Postby Kid Denver » Thu Feb 26, 2009 6:01 pm

I wonder
Will wrestling with wishing
Wash away my Faith?


“Dad, does wishing have anything to do with faithing?

Okay.”

I no longer wonder
If wrestling with wishing
Is wrought with wrongs
Because
Faithing has no wishing
And wishing takes too long.


“Hey Dad, what do I do when I blow out my birthday candles then? And are wishing and dreaming the same thing?

Okay.”

I can’t ask dad anymore questions for an hour.
I wonder...
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