One of my goals as a young adult novelist is to subtly educate my readers. In Between Shadow’s Eyes, the protagonist, Sarah, is constantly remembering or using vocabulary words, sometimes grumbling about her teacher. I, myself, had an English teacher in seventh grade that opened the dictionary on the first day of class, and starting with the letter “a,” proceeded to quiz us on the words in the order they appeared. We had to learn both spelling and all the definitions in groups of twenty. I complained a lot about those tests that year, but I will forever be grateful to Mrs. Krumenacher for the depth of my vocabulary.
Archives for January 2012
At a fabulous writing workshop yesterday, Camille Minichino introduced the concept of objective correlative. While I had not heard the term before, I was pleased to realize that I had intuitively used the technique in Between Shadow’s Eyes. The idea is nothing new.
T.S. Eliot described it as:
“The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an “objective correlative”; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked.”
Typically, the use of a particular object or event is symbolic of a deeper feeling. According to Minichino, the objective correlative should appear within the first three chapters, recur in the novel four to five times, and the character’s relationship to the object should somehow shift. In my book, the objective correlation is a letter written by my protagonist’s deceased father.
Have you ever used an objective corrective in a story? Have you ever used a pet or animal in this capacity? If so, how?
Dogs understand contentment. All they need is food, water, shelter, human kindness, and an occasional bone or toy to chew, to find happiness. Perhaps we should all aspire to be like dogs.
I saw a great photo affixed to my hairdresser’s license today. The picture showed an orange tabby kitten looking in a mirror that reflected back the face of a lion. The canine version of this photo would be a puppy staring at the image of wolf.
As much as my dog, Shadow, likes to portray a tough guy as he bellows out a bark that could curdle milk whenever the doorbell rings, in his heart he is still a sweet, tolerant pooch. I mean really what wild animal would tolerates a pack member six years his junior to lead him backward from room to room by pulling on his tail is if he were a rope in a tug-of-war contest? So while if Shadow were to have his say, he’d show himself reflected as a fierce wolf, but if I were to create the image, I’d put a mellow puppy in the mirror (sorry, Shadow).
What would your dog’s mirrored photo be like? Would your dog’s image of itself match the one you’d give him or her?
Here are a few of my favorite dog quotes:
“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” – Roger A. Caras – American wildlife photographer, writer, wildlife preservationist and television personality.
“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring—it was peace.” – Milan Kundera – author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
“Nobody can fully understand the meaning of love unless he’s owned a dog…” – Gene Hill – The Dog Man.
Please share your favorite dog quotes. I’d love to hear them!
Certiain rules are not meant to broken. Or are they? I never considered making the canine character, Shadow, the narrator in my book. Even if I hadn’t heard that novels told from the dog’s point of view were unpublishable, my novel focuses on a young girl’s unfortunate circumstances rather than the dog’s special talent. Yet, now that I know it is not only possible to get these types of books into print, I wouldn’t rule out experimenting to see if I could write in a dog’s voice in the future.
One great example of successfully capturing a dog’s mindset is demonstrated in Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain. And Stein isn’t the only author to overcome this supposed insurmountable publishing hurdle either. W. Bruce Cameron also broke the forbidden barrier in his novel, A Dog’s Purpose. Clearly, readers are not nearly as biased against watching the world through a dog’s eyes. Both Stien’s and Cameron’s books made it to the New York Times bestseller’s list.
The lesson learned? A good story trumps all. Write what you love and, with a little luck, readers will follow.