Five Tips for Beginning Authors from the Rector of the Literature Institute (part two)
Five Tips for Beginning Authors from the Rector of the Literature Institute (part two)

Five Tips for Beginning Authors from the Rector of the Literature Institute (part two)

Continued article “Five Tips for Beginning Authors from the Rector of the Literature Institute” (Part One)

Tip number four. Constantly refer to the classics

The student needs to turn as often as possible to the literary heritage of different nations, to explore the form and content of the best works of drama (or those genres in which he writes). Only in this way can one gain a base and identify reference points (authors or works) in the mainstream of the desired tradition: realism, detective, fantasy, dystopia, anti-novel.

Having mastered the basics, you can begin their own pioneering search, because in order to invent something new, you need to know a lot of the old.

In my opinion, you should only sit down for your own work after you have a clear understanding of what a play is built of, what bricks and planks its framework is made of, how the global literary process changes over time, why new genres emerge and why old ones die off and go into oblivion. And moreover, when the inner readiness to work and the persistent refusal of mindless copying will be acquired (see Tip One).

Pimenov’s recommendation: read and reread classics (plays), read again and reread again, imbuing your interest in the characters, empathizing with them, letting them into your inner world.

Classic Landscape. Artist F. Keller, 1962.

Tip Five. Take your first stories from life

Dumas father, before becoming a novelist, first became a playwright. It just so happened…. One of the first plays he wrote was Henry III and His Court. In it, in the manner of Shakespeare’s Henry, counts and barons fought on swords, drained barrels of wine and rescued the beautiful ladies. The play was an incredible success. Then what about the advice to take plots from life! No contradiction here, here’s what Wikipedia says about “Henry III” by André Morois:

Was his play historical? No more and no less than the novels of Walter Scott. History is full of mysteries. With Dumas everything appeared clear and definite. Catherine de Medici held the threads of all intrigue. Henry III upset the plans of the Duke de Guise. However, Dumas himself was well aware that in reality all these adventures were much more complicated. But what did it matter to him? He wanted only one thing – tumultuous action. The era of Henry III, with its duels, conspiracies, orgies, and rampant political passions, reminded him of the Napoleonic era. Dumas’ treatment of history was what the French wanted it to be: cheerful, colorful, built on contrasts, with Good on one side and Evil on the other. The audience of 1829 that filled the stalls consisted of the very people who had made the great revolution and fought in the armies of the empire. They liked it when kings and their deeds were presented in “pictures heroic, full of drama and therefore familiar to them.

Then Dumas will create several more plays, and they will be about the most modern life imaginable. The July Revolution would follow, in which the aspiring playwright would take an active part. Thanks to this, he will have accumulated a lot of vital material (sword waving, musket shooting and barricade battles), which he will put into a historical frame, and give it to the reader and the audience, and they will thank him with fervent enthusiasm and love. So the advice about life stories has proven itself in practice countless times.

A novice author, as a rule, has a few brilliant ideas in his head, which he can’t wait to realize, to throw on paper. Pimenov warns against excessive haste:

The task, then, comes down to determining one’s first creative height for oneself and learning to ascend to it step by step. It is necessary to be professionally prepared for this: to understand what a dramatic conflict is, what its nature is in different epochs, how to ensure the objective course of the stage action when the author, having removed himself from the play, at the same time holds in it his clear authorial position, gives the depicted unique subjectivity, a sign of true art. It is necessary to know, for example, that the remark (when the characters are silent) is also an action.


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