What is Stream of Consciousness in a novel? Help!

StreamI was lounging on a couch on the outside deck of the Starbucks in Tucker, Georgia enjoying a tall “Flat White” coffee drink. It was creamy and good…very good! The sun was hot, and yet a crisp cool breeze washed over the deck and kept me alert as I was reading J.D. Sallinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. The traffic on Highway 29 didn’t distract me as I was involved in reading the classic novel.
A few minutes earlier, when I was buying my drink, the barrister smiled, noticing the book, and said, “I remember that book from high school a few years ago.” I smiled and said, “So did I, but many, many, many years ago in high school in Brooklyn.
We both laughed!
What made me go back to my Bushwick High School reading list was a review left about a chapter in one of my novels. At first I was surprised, a little stunned, and read the review a number of times: “Fluid writing style. Plenty of concrete detail that defines the character and the street names of cities I’m not familiar with. I feel as if I’m witnessing Walter with binoculars from a distance. I know who he is, but it’s not enough. Without some stream-of-consciousness I can’t sympathize with his death. He’s just an accident victim on the evening news.”
I leaned back on the couch and thought this reader didn’t know or care about a character in my novel.
As I read and concentrated on the review over and over again, the words “I know who he is, but it’s not enough” kept replaying in my mind. This is what a review is supposed to do for a writer; make an author think.
Now, I am in the midst of writing my next novel, Stormy Winds, the review is giving me food for thought about the development of characters, especially lead character Justin Fleming, This philosophical novel will be released in November 2015.
I keep asking my self, over and over again, what is “Stream of Consciousness” in a novel?
Most people think Stream of Consciousness means: “In literary criticism, stream of consciousness is a narrative mode that seeks to portray an individual’s point of view by giving the written equivalent of the character’s thought processes, either in a loose interior monologue, or in connection to his or her actions.”
Definitions are easy to recite, but what does it mean and how do you make this writing technique work in a novel?
After reading the review, I needed to find examples of Stream of Consciousness. Give me some examples of effective Stream of Consciousness in a successful book! The book that came to mind was The Catcher in the Rye. Well, I was going to read the book again to get a feel for this technique.
Since I didn’t have a good copy of the novel, I purchased the book at the local Barnes & Nobel in paperback, not in E-Book format. The paperback is easier for me to read and read again.
Now, I’m reading this classic again, not as a dreaded high school English assignment, but as a present day author learning from an American Classic book.
What is Stream of Consciousness?
***Is it a character’s random thoughts that cruise through a person’s mind?
***Is it a character reaction to a developing situation?
*** Is it a character going back in time and reacting to an event?
*** Is it a character musing about a future event?
***Are you giving the reader insight into the character and why the person does what he does in the novel? ***
Is it a book told strictly from the first person?
Questions? Questions? Questions?
As I read The Catcher in the Rye, I’m observing how a great author uses this technique to help the reader “Know who the character is!”
From the novel:
“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
The Catcher in the Rye
Holden Caulfield in Chapter 1, opening words of book
As I’m reading, I’m learning who Holden Caulfield is and what his personality is. This will be a very informative reading adventure and a learning process.
Now, the late afternoon sunlight creates a nice atmosphere on the deck of the Tucker Starbucks, as I carefully read each and every word, phrase and incident to figure out “Stream of Consciousness.”
One thing I’ve learned, over the years, about the writing process is that you never stop learning. You must always have that thirst for knowledge and improvement in your craft. This “Reading Exercise” encourages me in taking the next step in crafting the best novel, Stormy Winds; I can create over the next few months.
Thanks for the review on Authorsden.com


Thompson On…Scene Construction: The Difference Maker in a Successful Novel!

creative_writing[1]Novels are driven by incredible scene construction!
How a writer handles scenes will make a difference between a manuscript that sells, and one that ends up in the slush pile or the author receiving a rejection letter via email or in the mail.
A scene is a unit of drama in a novel.
The concept of a scene in fiction comes from theater, where it describes the action that takes place in a single setting.
The scene as we know it in modern genre fiction is heavily influenced by Hollywood. Life in the 21st century genre novel is a series of quick, dramatic flashes.
When you flesh out a scene, you must either create a show scene or a tell scene to advance your storyline. This will affect your pacing. You can speed up with tell scenes and slow down with show scenes.
When I was writing A Brownstone in Brooklyn, there was a big show scene-sequence in the afternoon, with the evening uneventful and nothing happening—a prelude—to the riots in Brooklyn that rocked the borough.
The next day the riots started!
How I handled this sequence was to create tremendous show scenes for the day before the riots, then tell scenes in the evening, but the next day I was creating show scenes with specific sensory details.
Now, the reader was in the moment and experiences the riots as the flames ate away at the buildings on Nostrand Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant. They smelled the acrid smoke and saw the building crumble.
If I had created show scenes for the evening before the riot, then I would be overwriting and slowed the novel down and the pacing would have been off mark.
When you create scenes with great show/don’t tell scenes you want to do six things:
A. Possible Scene Format:
a. Scene One: Show Scene
b. Scene Two: Transition/Tell Scene
c. Scene Three: Show Scene
B. A scene has the following three-part pattern: Goal, Conflict and Disaster.
Goal: Your goal is to convincingly show your POV (Point OF View) Character experiencing the scene. (For Example, in the novel To Kill A Mockingbird, you are standing next to Atticus Finch as Tom Ewell spits in his face. You experience the spit dripping down Finch’s face)
As you construct scenes, you must do this so powerfully that your reader experiences the scene as if he/she were the POV Character. Your reader will identify with the character.
Conflict: is the obstacles your POV character faces on the way to reaching his goal.
Disaster: is a failure to let your POV character reach his goal. Don’t give him the goal without any conflict. Do Not Make It Easy!
C. A scene has three other important elements.
External Motivation: The objective can be in this paragraph. It does not need to be complicated.
Internal Motivation: Internal scream: Present it exactly as your POV character experiences it. This is your chance to make your reader be your POV character. (The character must have either an external or internal motivation—the reader must know why a character reacted a certain way.)
Reflex Reaction: It’s instinctive. You will react rationally: to act, to think, to speak. You must present the full complexity of your character’s reactions in this order.
For Example
EM: The man in black sprinted toward John flashing a switchblade.
IR: John turned and a bolt of raw adrenalin shot through his veins.
RR: John pulled a gun out of his shoulder holster, sighted on the man’s chest, and squeezed the trigger, “You’re dead!”
Key: You can’t afford to write one scene, but you must write another scene, and another and another, etc. You will probably have to create hundreds of scenes before your book is complete.
(As a quick creative writing exercise–continue this scene)
AM (Another Motivation):
I’m very interested in reading your continuation of this scene. What is John’s next experience? Be specific—the reader must experience and become part of the John’s reaction as he faces a man lunging at him with a switchblade!
Please leave a comment and visit my website for more helpful hints!

Enjoy A Brownstone In Brooklyn Amazon.Com Book Reviews!

BrownstoneI know Those People!!!

By J. Squires

The greatest compliment one can pay the author of his memoirs is: “I know those people! I really do!” While reading this novel, I feel privileged to sit at the table beside Andy (Mr. Julius Thompson) while his mama, Golda, dishes out a sumptuous ~ though modest ~ feast.

My hand is in Andy’s. My other hand is in Andy’s Step-father’s (Marvs) strong, black hand while, following his example, we bow our heads, and feel his love and his deep and unshakable faith as he leads us in grace. Mr. Julius Thompson takes us on a literary journey through the tempestuous sixties.

His main character, Andy Michael Pilgrim, has a dream ~ a dream in an environment and generation that could easily crush a less enduring black man’s dreams. With riots and death all around him, Andy persists in the pursuit of his dream. With the love of his life, Leslie, beside him, Golda’s love (leaning heavily on him, sometimes, as a mother’s love will tend to do), Marvs’ guidance and love giving him direction, and a whole wacky cast of lovable characters ~ his extended family ~ urging him on, Andy moves relentlessly forward, overcoming towering obstacles, until his dream is realized…
Yes, I know those people. I love those people. And, thanks to Julius Thompson and his book, “A Brownstone In Brooklyn,” you’ll find youself knowing and loving them, too.


By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
A Brownstone in Brooklyn chronicles a short but critical portion of the life of Andy Michael Pilgrim. Andy has grown up in a Brownstone on Gates Avenue in Brooklyn and all of its residents have contributed to his upbringing. However, this book takes place during a turbulent time in American history. The civil rights movement seems to be taking a more violent turn, and young men across the nation are being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War…
The lively cast of characters keep this novel fresh and entertaining while the plot keeps you on the edge of your seat. Thompson does a wonderful job highlighting how people’s lives are influenced by the types of choices they make. He also highlights how much one person’s actions can impact the lives of others in meaningful ways. The book started out a little slow, but gradually picked up momentum. I would have liked a bit more character development for Andy’s character earlier in the book. In the early parts of the book I felt like I was reading about his day to day life without enough background to really care about his character, but by the end I felt like I knew him well. A Brownstone in Brooklyn is an enjoyable read that truly demonstrates that it takes a village to raise a child.

A Sentimental History Lesson
By Amazon Customer
Format: Hardcover
In “A Brownstone In Brooklyn,” Mr. Julius Thompson paints a picture of life in Brooklyn during the turbulent 60’s. It’s the story of how good people can be oppressed and held down for so long that they must resort to “any means necessary” to overcome, and how one’s family is not always defined by a blood line. It’s also the story of how one such extended family bands together to raise an extraordinary young man, our main character, Andy Michael Pilgrim. Mr. Thompson shows us what life was like for a young man during the Vietnam War as the Civil Rights Movement took a sudden violent turn after the death of Dr. King, and how many young men, without the love given to Andy by his extended family, didn’t make it. This is an excellent story, and an excellent lesson, that I highly recommend for readers of all ages.

JET Blog…A Reflection on CNN’s Special on th Sixties!

Brownstone I was asked to choose a quote from my first novel, A Brownstone in Brooklyn, to reflect on the unpredictable nature of life. How things are never the same and human beings have to adjust to life’s changing events. A Brownstone in Brooklyn is about growing up in the turbulent sixties, one of the most event filled decades in Black-American history.

CNN is currently running a special on the sixties every Thursday night. Tonight it was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy… A Brownstone in Brooklyn is still relevant today.

I remember the moment that changed a nation.

Where I was when it was announced that Kennedy had been shot? I was in gym class at Bushwick High School in Brooklyn, New York on a cool November Day in 1962. It is still fresh in my mind the moment my gym teacher, Coach Diamond, told us the news of Kennedy being shot.

We were stunned. Some of us cried.

A Brownstone in Brooklyn reflects that moment and a vibrant era in time.

A Brownstone in Brooklyn chronicles the life-altering events that shape the future of Andy Michael Pilgrim, a young man growing up in the turbulent sixties.

“The most special times in a person’s life are not meant to last forever. They’re like bubbles rising from a plastic ring dipped into a soapy solution. The soap bubbles rise, with the sun flashing brilliant colors, then bursts into a showery memory mist.”
― J.E. Thompson, A Brownstone in Brooklyn

Please go to the guestbook and leave your response: www.jethompson.info


J. E. Thompson On…My personal Journey to Writing Confidence!

Stormy Winds cover the March 2015 Publication!
Stormy Winds cover the March 2015 Publication!
Writing Confidence!
We all struggle to write our best all the time and without interference from our inner self. We hear negative comments from other people, we don’t need to have to fight our inner self.
When I was young I struggled with this “Self-Confidence” problem, until a wonderful high school English teacher, Mrs. Egan, changed my whole perspective.
Enjoy this motivational YouTube video about my writing journey to success as a novelist. This journey culminated with me winning the 2011 Readers Favorite National Gold Medal for Ghost of Atlanta.
J. E. Thompson’s novels include A Brownstone in Brooklyn, Philly Style and Philly Profile, the national award winning Ghost of Atlanta, Phantoms of Rockwood and Stormy Winds that will be published in March 2015.
J. E. Thompson has been nominated for the 2014 Georgia Author of the year award for Phantoms of Rockwood.
Now onto bigger and even better goals!!!!
<a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlypVbPJTPE&#8221; title=”Please Click to watch the YouTube Motivational Video!!”>

Stormy Winds Book Cover!

Stormy WindsJ. E. Thompson’s fifth novel, Stormy Winds will be published in March 2015. Check out Kellie Dennis’ provactive book cover that is innovative and mysterious that reflects the tone and message of the novel. J. E. Thompson is a big William Shakespeare fan for the last forty years. This novel, Stormy Winds, is his Macbeth. It’s dark and moody but very entertaining with a vital message about overcoming any problem.
Short Synopsis: “Stormy Winds explores former sports writer Justin Fleming’s perseverance over destructive themes and events in his life.
Chapter One: Justin Fleming walked briskly past the Broadway Diner on 52nd Street in West Philadelphia. The air was a ruthless acrid reaching down into his lungs making his body shiver with each breath.
His body trembled, he began to mumble.
(The rest coming in March 2015!)