GRIST Interviews Lysley Tenorio: “I’m becoming more conscious of this idea that a reader really ‘lives’ with a novel. I like to think of the novel as tagging along with the reader as he moves through his days, that there’s almost a courtship between them, figuring out how they best relate.”

Excerpt from Grist Vol 2, 2009:

For me, structure comes after I figure out what a story is about. In “Save the I-Hotel” I knew that the present time moment of a single night had to be measured against events spanning an entire lifetime—the challenge was to develop and reveal a character through the back-and-forth between present and past, to find the points at which the two timelines would converge and echo one another. Given this structure, I had to be careful to not use the past as a way of “diagnosing” the protagonist, to infuse both timelines with the same amount of drama and suspense.

A story like “Superassassin,” which is told in the first person present, needed a linear structure. The past comes only as quick flashbacks or memories, and those moments are meant to serve the present-time tension. That’s a story that relies on amplification. The character begins in an emotionally bad place which grows worse, scene by scene. I only need a single timeline for that, and therefore a simple, linear structure.

That said, the structures of my stories are fairly traditional, so I’m envious of writers who are truly experimenting structure and form.

Read more…

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the heads up, Madame Salonniere. I love Lysley’s stories and can only wish his novel would be finished sometime soon.

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