Vladimir Fedorovich Pimenov (1905-1995) served as rector of the Gorky Literary Institute from 1964 to 1985, over twenty years.
Professor Pimenov’s area of scientific interest was drama, and at the Institute he ran a seminar for correspondence students in drama. For those who do not know, a seminar at philological faculties is a discipline like any other, only without lectures, only seminars taking place in the form of discussions (in person), or written dialogues, mostly along the lines of teacher-student. With the advent of the Internet era, other options have become possible, as they say.
For a tip of the hat to novice writers, see Pimenov’s article “Educating with Creativity,” published in issue 6 of Literary Studies, 1980.
Tip One. Discourage craftsmanship
A future writer needs to infect himself with the spirit of creativity, the thirst to delve deeper into the material, to study everything available to him in his profession.
After all, what is craft? It is the thoughtless and uncontrolled repetition of stencils, clichés, schemes and models, the overproduction of phrases devoid of meaning, and plot pictures that have been seen a hundred times. And what is art? It is the creation of harmonious and beautiful objects. One of a kind. Art is aesthetics (and ethics, if one likes Plato very much).
Literature becomes real only when it has an idea and an artistic image created by the author, when all its parts are proportionate and consonant, when the cosmos prevails over chaos, and the reader recognizes himself or herself or familiar people in the invented characters.
Those who want to master the craft can be recommended to download the programs of the disciplines of philological faculties, or journalism departments, or the same Literature Institute – they used to be freely available on their website, I do not know how now – and set up school at home. Work programs list the topics that students master, sometimes lesson plans, seminar assignments, lists of academic literature, questions for credit, all sorts of tests and control assignments-all the things you need for a complete study of the subject.
The basic disciplines for writers are:
Russian Language and Culture of Speech
History of Literature
Foreign language (to the extent: understand, speak, and read literary texts)
Tip two. Learn to praise first
This advice has to do with ethics. A creative person learns to see the strengths of a work first. And only then the negative. Literary study means reading a huge number of books, articles, reviews. Among them you will find some that are badly and poorly written, and some that you simply do not like (some cannot stand Chekhov or Solzhenitsyn, but they must be read if you want to become a professional). It is taboo for aspiring authors to scold them.
In explaining his position, Pimenov refers to Stanislavsky:
In the first course, Stanislavsky said, I would teach people to write only positive reviews, to note only the merits of this or that work of art. Writing and speaking positively about art, Stanislavsky thought, was the hardest thing to do. And only much later, when people learn to praise each other, to speak kindly, will they have the right to criticize, to rebuke, to talk about shortcomings.
When practicing writing reviews, summaries and various reviews, always praise first, point out the strengths of the text, its merits, try to penetrate into the author’s intent (what did the author want to say with his work?) and only then move on to the shortcomings and criticism. And the latter is not necessarily make the public view. You can silently draw conclusions for yourself, and do not write negative comments anywhere at all. The world can live without them.
Poster by E. Govorkov, 1954.
Tip three. Study Drama Theory
Pimenov, as mentioned above, taught part-time playwrights, so naturally the basic discipline was “Theory of Drama.
However, drama (another name for drama theory, by analogy with literary studies – the theory of literature) should be studied not only by those who want to create plays. Most modern literature is drama, and anyone who writes novels, novellas, and short stories (as well as feuilletons, reports, essays, and blog posts) most often deals with this genre of literature.
There are three genera of literature, as we remember: epic, lyric, and drama. If we break them down by the techniques of presentation, then epic is narrative and description, drama is dialogues and monologues, and lyricism is poetry. With your hand on your heart, how many epic works can you name? “The Iliad and the Odyssey don’t count, because the traits of drama are already apparent there:
The word ended and Thestrorides sat down. And from his seat rose up.
The son of Atreus, the hero Agamemnon.
His anger burned with anger. In his chest, his gloomy heart of horror
His heart was filled with rage. His eyes lit up brightly with fires.
First of all, he answered Calhas with a sinister glance:
“O harbinger of trouble! Thou hast never said good things to me!
It is always pleasant for you to prophesy only misfortunes to people.
You have never said a kind word to us, never told us…
and so on through the text. We have dialogue before us, don’t we? Which means a piece of drama. In the epic “Iliad.”
By taking a full course in Drama Theory, students understand the laws by which a plot is constructed, how conflict is created, how a work takes shape and style is finished and beautiful. Most importantly, they learn the laws of dramatic art.
Having studied theory, you can move on to practice: write sketches, sketches, dialogues on a given theme or situation (the suggested circumstances in Stanislavsky’s methodology), using the theoretical baggage. Try starting a play in a vaudevillian, funny or tragic way, without necessarily ending it. Just see how the laws of drama are realized in reality. Publish your sketches on your blog and watch how your friends and followers react to them.
You can download the methodological guidelines for “Drama Theory” from the Litin Institute itself here. The Methodological Recommendations of the Moscow State Institute of Culture’s “Theory of Drama” discipline lie here. And here is a voluminous working program of the discipline “Theory of Drama” of the Chelyabinsk State Institute of Culture. The phrase “the theory of drama discipline program” is perfectly googled, and there are plenty of programs similar to those listed above.
continued in the next article
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