I should probably just show you instead of telling you – I mean, that’s rule one of fiction – but I want to update more regularly, and I had this stored away in my thesis. It’s going up here out of personal interest: I wish to see how many rules of my own I break. I mean, I already broke the majority of them by posting it here – I don’t know everything there is about fiction, so how can I get off trying to noodle it down and understand it completely. What an ass I must be.
So know, dear reader, this is all bullshit. I cannot teach you anything for I cannot teach myself anything. Here’s the proof:
Fiction, particularly short stories, is easy stuff. Don’t believe anyone who says otherwise, including myself. Here’s the general formula: a welcoming introduction, an unexpected turn, dissonance, and a resolution. From there, anything goes. That’s why some think it difficult. There’s so much possibility and yet there is no better or worse way to fumble about a story. What works, works totally.
To maximize the possibility of achieving as much, one must understand their implied world, from the author, the reader, to the very detail of the universe itself. If trees are meant to fly, let them fly, but ensure to stay grounded to this rule.
Of course, this fictional construction is necessarily false. All fiction is metaphor – it requires a connection of symbols to some broader imagination. The gap between the two is sometimes astronomical. A writer can minimize the distance by not simply writing what they know, but writing what they don’t know as well. Figuring out the uncertainties is the stuff of good fiction.
Yet they should never get caught up in their purpose. It must be remembered that readers murk through literature’s falsity with verbal microscopes. Only by having them sit there with neurons firing off an electric storm and their breath slowing and their fingers tapping and yet still forgetting about all these facts can a story be successful.
It won’t always happen. All readers are different always, just as all writers are different always. Each will approach a text from hundreds of experiences not known to either party. That is the conceit of fiction. It is like meeting a person for the first time, and asking them to perform the Venetian waltz on command.
Only by going step by step, note by note, can the whole shebang work.
How? By ensuring that each word and each sentence, each paragraph and each punctuation mark serves the author’s ends. Thus, consider the purpose of the writing. If it is to joke, then joke. If it is to analyze the effects of cosmic satellite debris, then analyze. Don’t mix up the two, unless of course, cosmic satellite debris is sidesplitting stuff.