Dear Virginia Woolf…

Write a letter to Virginia Woolfe telling her how much you like her ideas about writing a kind of fiction completely unconstrained by the rules of the past.

Dear Virginia Woolf,

I am sure you will agree with me when I say that the diversity of life is often blatently ignored in fiction due to the desire of the author to have a successful novel that ticks all of the boxes so to speak. I say this because this is a conclusion that I have come to based on your ideas about fiction writing conveyed by your essay Modern Fiction.

The ideas that you have expressed through this work spoke to me on a personal level as often when reading fiction, one realises that rather than an intricate set of characters with entirely unique lives given to them by an author, stock characters and stereotypes control the outcomes of the story. This makes these works predictable and somewwhat meaningless and the true emotions are removed and replaced by whatever an author thinksthe audience will like so as to sell the piece. You pose the important questions of “Is life like this? Must novels be like this?” which inspired my thoughts on this issue. In the immensly diverse world we live in, no two people are the same, no two experiences are the same, and no two thoughts are the same- so why so often is it that in literature, the character acts in the way that they are expected to act and the plot carries on in the same fashion; an orientation, complication and conclusion? This is obviously not an accurate reflection of life as many authors are afraid to leave the confines of expectation.

I think that as a young author, I should strive to break such confines and focussing on, not expectations, but expressions of complex situations, characters and emotions who break boundaries in their own fictional world but could also be legitimatw within our world. Rather than writing characters based on expectations, it is vital that “likeness to life” is considered in such a way that characters are unpredictable, allowing the character to lead the author in new and unexplored directions. The ideas you have presented are not only well-fashioned, but highly inspiring to young authors ready to break the boundafries set in the past and begin writing unpredictably and unashamedly. Thank you for your insight into the issues surrounding modern literature.4

Kind regards,

Tamara Sibbald.


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