3

I've been trying to write stream of consciousness style but I just tend to get too plain and boring. And so I bore myself reading what I write, hardly a way to move forward.

For example:

"Today I went to church, I stumbled upon Joan and she told me that she wanted to meet for coffee later on. So I told her to call me later, hoping she would forget."

Can you suggest good examples of this kind of writing I can use as inspiration?

Or point out advice to avoid sounding plain and repetitive?

6
  • 4
    What do you mean by "stream of consciousness"? I wouldn't really call the terse, Hemingwayan "X happened. Then, Y happened. Meanwhile, Z" a stream of consciousness, so I'm not sure if that's what you're aiming for, or if you want to write something like American Psycho and can't find a way to get your character's thoughts in there. Jul 28 at 13:50
  • It's maybe that my consciousness is that terse and boring :-D - But yeah, I want to write something that feels like a regular human mind chattering. Is American Psycho a good example?
    – user51625
    Jul 28 at 13:54
  • 1
    If your "regular human" is a coked up Wall Streed psychopath, maybe... Jokes aside, I think it's a decent example of hallmarks of the stream of consciousness style - the narrator focusing on details important to them personally more than to the story, while glossing over others, repeating himself, swtiching trains of thoughts midway through, or going on massive tangents. You learn a lot about Bateman from what he thinks about and how he thinks about it, and the disjointed, rapid fire narration matches the character. Jul 28 at 14:03
  • 1
    (do note that the book comes with content warnings for pretty much everything you can think of and then some - much more so than the movie). Jul 28 at 14:08
  • 1
    Jack Kerouac On the Road written in 3wks on a couple of rolls of typing paper and amphetamines (then edited for the next 7yrs). This is all narrative voice territory, advanced storytelling that's pairs well with flawed, unreliable narrators who reveal themselves through subtext and their reactions to others. On the Road was inspired by a letter from a friend. Maybe your conscious needs to stream to somebody (like a letter), not to self (like a diary entry). Your example is not much to go on, but you need more than 'Today I did...' to make it feel present tense and stream-of-conscious.
    – wetcircuit
    Jul 28 at 14:47
8

Given your example, you seem to confuse stream of consciousness with writing down what happens to the viewpoint character. Your example is just first person limited. It completely lacks the consciousness of stream of consciousness, i.e. it lacks what goes on in the mind of the viewpoint character.

Stream of consciousness narrates not what happens to a person, whether seen from inside (in first person) or outside (in third), but what happens in the mind of a person. This may or may not also entail what happens to the person, but often the actuall events remain vague to the reader, when the viewpoint character doesn't think about what happens to them and it therefore doesn't become conscious.

The preeminent example of stream of consciousness writing is probably William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. The Wikipedia article on stream of consciousness has more examples.

8
  • 2
    Yeah, it's just that my consciousness is like what I write above.. I don't have that continuous chatter that people report they have. That's in fact why I'm trying to write something in that style, to try to understand it better. Thanks for the example
    – user51625
    Jul 28 at 15:55
  • 5
    @ParibusCeteris I don't believe that your mind only consists of observations of external events. Maybe you need to become better aware of what goes on in your mind before you can write stream of consciousness. My mind goes like: "Ah, that's the hard disc. Car sounds. The edge of the table is cutting into my arms. What did I want to write? Ah, I know, ... But what does 'paribus ceteris' mean?"
    – user51622
    Jul 28 at 15:59
  • 2
    I know, right? It's hard to believe. But yes, I get that the original example is not stream of consciousness.
    – user51625
    Jul 28 at 16:22
  • 3
    @fluctuatingpsychosis No, a lack of internal monologue is a real thing. It doesn't appear to be studied very thoroughly, but it's reported regularly.
    – Numeri
    Jul 28 at 22:45
  • 1
    @DM_with_secrets yes, that's exactly the point.
    – user51625
    Jul 30 at 8:27
0

In addition to the fairly sophisticated examples often cited, such as Ulysses (Joice) and The Waves (Woolf), I consider Lieutenant Gustl by Arthur Schnitzler to be the perfect book for experiencing and understanding stream of consciousness. Short and simple, and great pleasure.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy