Once a month or so, Roger and I visit the public library to catch up on all the periodicals that we enjoy reading. To subscribe to them all would cost too much; as well, our house has too many books and magazines already.
While there the other day I read the Summer 2011 New Quarterly because it included an interview with Alice Munro about her novella, "Too Much Happiness" in the book by the same name. She was talking about the influence of Freud, not only on the characters in her novella, but also on women in the 1950s when she was a young wife, mother and aspiring writer.
She said, in answer to one question: "..[W]hen I was a young married woman I learned that educated women wanted desperately to follow and give help to a man. It was not the uneducated women who wanted this. It was the girls who read Freud...In the writing community it was that way too. It was was women who were difficult for me to deal with. They didn't approve of me because they sensed I wanted something of my own... When I got to live in the suburbs I found out, and it was a total surprise to me, that female achievement was so out of style... People accept fashions very readily and intellectual women or men are not immune to this either. The '60s was when I finally began to feel alive..."
I also read the October 2011 Writer's Digest, which includes an article by Les Egerton called "The Four Goals Your Beginning Must Meet." A novel or short story, he writes, must start with a "story-worthy problem." There must be trouble of the sort that alters the protagonist's internal psychological profoundly.
The other rules have to do with the hook, the establishment of your particular story's rules, and forecasting the ending. Read the article for more information.
I also came home with the new Lisa See novel set in China in 1957-8. All in all, it was a useful trip to the library