A Literary Technique

Stream of Consciousness writing is a bit complicated, as it is supposed to be the unspoken thoughts and feelings that an author has about their characters without resorting to an objective description or the diverse thoughts and feelings that a character would normally encounter.  It is writing without regard to a logical argument.  The writer utilizes the Stream of Consciousness technique to reflect all the forces, external and internal, influencing the psychology of a character at a single moment.  It can be defined as a mode of narration that undertakes to capture the full spectrum and flow of a character’s mental process, in which sense perceptions mingle with conscious and half-conscious thoughts, memories, feelings and random associations, thus creating the impression that the reader is gaining intuition by eavesdropping on the flow of conscious experience in the character’s mind.  Many writers use this technique to capture the true nature of reality, which is said to be the essence of our existence and to get direct access to the thoughts of characters, the inner workings of the human mind.

The flow of thoughts in the conscious mind is difficult to capture, since the ordinary person’s mind jumps from one event to another, but this free association writing allows the author to jump from one thought to another without any indication of a change in the topic.  Stream of Consciousness writing should flow like a river or a stream going seamlessly from one thought to the next.  You do not have to stick with the original topic, as rivers and streams being fluid in nature are known to change course over time.  As perception shifts the writer shapes new thoughts and if research is not allowed these thoughts tend to become incoherent.  There is no agreed upon precise definition for the term “Stream of Consciousness” and no consensus has been arrived at as to how it is best used.  I often see this as being a series of disjointed and rambling thoughts or fragments that by nature of the process lack correct punctuation, favoring a looser, more incomplete style.  I have a difficult time with this type of writing and I find it to be pretty intimidating, as my writing background stems from research and I always break Rule Number One on Linda G. Hill’s ‘Life in progress’ Stream of Consciousness Saturday.  I think that my brain just works differently from others.

Stream of consciousness is often non-linear in a few key ways that define the style, as it does make use of unusual syntax and grammar, associative leaps, repetition, and plot structure.  A nonlinear plot structure might move forward and backward in time.  Story plots usually include four elements, those being exposition which is the information needed to understand a story, complication the catalyst that begins the major conflict, climax the turning point in the story that occurs when characters try to resolve the complication and resolution which is the set of events that bring the story to a close.

5 thoughts on “A Literary Technique

  1. I follow Linda’s definition of “stream of consciousness” for her prompt, which means “no editing (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.” So just let your thoughts flow and write them down as they occur. And you’re right, it’s difficult. I’m the type who will for me write my first draft, edit, revise, edit again, and revise again before I finally hit publish. So writing in a strict stream of consciousness manner is very foreign to me.

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