I’m formulating a definition of my writing style based on my recent work, which has been focused on my hometown of Atlanta. The name I’ve devised is Southern NeoRealism and I’m working to develop characteristics of it, based on common themes in my writing. For instance, a character’s motivation is often influenced by his or her religious beliefs. The challenge is to show the struggle of trying to maintain a set of principles in a chaotic and often confusing environment while remaining neutral in ones judgement of the character. People in the South are frequently more overt in their religious practices than those in other parts of the country, but don’t always practice what they preach. The goal is to handle each belief system respectfully, without descending into caricature, while not being afraid to note the contradictions sometimes demonstrated by followers of a given faith.
Below are some tenets I’ve developed to better define the style, with room to expand in the future. This is, very much, a work in progress.
Written in the eternal present. Current events are described as they occur to the characters.
Past tense is used to depict situations that can’t be altered.
Third person subjective voice; shifting perspectives.
A single narrative can be spread across multiple works and genres.
Historical events and existing individuals are utilized in the narrative, sometimes interacting with characters.
Contemporary Southern locales.
The sometimes tortured history of the South informs the narrative, but history is viewed with a realistic and nonjudgmental eye.
The past is neither romanticized nor glorified.
Allegorical in nature; attempts to strike a balance between surface and symbol.
The facts of a “true” story are altered without sacrificing the underlying truth.
A character’s actions are often influenced by his or her religion, and should be dealt with in a respectful manner, pointing out the contradictions sometimes apparent without resorting to stereotypes or ridicule.