Exercise #3

We were supposed to write a scene from the first-person point of view and rewrite it in the omniscient third-person point of view, where the writer gives the reader access to the minds of multiple characters within a single scene.


First-person:

Conversations buzzed around me as I reached into the fridge for my second and last crudité platter. All the wine we had was already in play. There wasn’t much more I could do with all the people walking in through our door. My husband was happy in a crowd, surrounded by strangers and grappling for attention. Brushing against people in the trip from the fridge to the table made me cringe. Setting down the platter and sidelining another group, I dropped into the couch to watch the game.

“Honey, could you get over here?”

Everyone looked in my direction as I waded through the crowd to his side, the receiver to his quarterback.

Dave, my husband put his arm loose around my waist. “This is Monica and her husband. They knew the previous owner.”

“Could we go outside to talk?” Getting their nods, I ushered them outside through the sliding door. I stood there with the little notebook from my back pocket to jot stuff down. I felt like a waitress.

Fifteen minutes later, their fire hose of gossip had dried up and seven pages were full of my scribbled writing. I took them back inside and found Dave sipping punch with the neighborhood Dads. Slipping Dave the notebook, I guzzled a champagne bottle into the punch bowl and the rest of the sugary tea base. Dave took my hand. We went through the party together. Here and there, I caught snippets of the game. Football wasn’t my thing. It was the way I related to people. It was my distraction from the crowd squeezed into our home.

Tired out from the social interaction, I sat down to watch the game and ate some Swedish meatballs.


Omniscient third-person:

Stephanie reached into the fridge for the crudité platter she had left. Her husband, Dave was across the room, entertaining the guest flooding their house warming party. Stephanie went through the room to set the platter were the empty one lay. She made her way to the couch to watch the game.

Halfway across the room, Dave made a discovery. Their neighbors knew the man that lived in the house a few months before Stephanie and Dave moved in. Stephanie would want a break, Dave thought. “Honey, could you come over here?”

Stephanie came over, feeling the press of the crowd once more.

“Honey, this is Mary and Chris. They knew the previous owner.”

“Oh?”

Mary and Chris nodded.

Stephanie brought them out onto the deck and took out a pocket notebook to jot down what they said. Chris hated their previous neighbor’s guts. There was a feud between them. Lawns were mowed without ownership. Sprinkler systems interwove. A few plants poisoned and trash jettisoned where it didn’t belong.

Having collected what they had to say, Stephanie passed their notes on to Dave. The punch bowl filled, Dave took Stephanie around the party, making introductions. All Stephanie wanted was a seat to watch the game. Wasted from the social interaction, Stephanie took the seat she wanted and ate Swedish meatballs. Football made talking to people easier, a common point of reference she felt awkward without.

GK

What Gets Me to Write

Knowing my “Why”

Knowing why you write is the most important realization you can make as a writer to get your words out into the world and to attract an audience. Your why leads back to what you believe. Anything that starts with a deep belief has the power to change the world. These are the reasons why I write and the beliefs tied to each one.


To find meaning in my life.

There needs to be a meaning to everything in my mind, or it risks falling into nihilism. What’s the point if nothing means anything beyond the observable and provable?

That questioning spirals into negative self talk, dragging me back into the wells of depression that meaning helps me escape.

I believe meaning comes from what we assign meaning to. Each person’s life is separate. A set of viewpoints should never be imposed on anybody, but actions that harm others still need to have consequences.

To not feel alone.

Writing helps me connect with readers and the imaginary characters I create.

We can never see a person as they actually exist. The brain constructs a model, a character if you will of that person and updates that simulacrum to match the inputs from the real world. We never interact with a real person before thinking how our model of them would react.

Writing about a character utilizes this faculty even more than interacting with an actual person, because it’s impossible to interview a fictional character. It all comes from the writer’s observations and empathy.

I believe people connecting with other people will make the world a better. Huddling in groups that only share our world view isn’t the way forward.

To feel what I never can.

I live a limited life as it is. Things required to keep me alive and my lack of ability keep me limited in real life.

In my imagination, on my computer, those limitations are smaller until they vanish. I can be anybody, anything, or all powerful in my imagination and hold onto it by writing it down.

I believe it’s better to have experienced something good even if it’ll hurt in the end.

To be heard how I want to be.

I have a speech impairment that limits how well I can be understood.

To get through a day and have my needs met is an exercise in patience, creative wording, and knowing the limits of what can be understood.

Sure, I could use a communication device that tracks the movement of my eyes, but not more than an hour, with the exact placement, and the time typing in something I

want to say.

Otherwise, I move my lips with a trace of sound to be understood.

On my laptop with a mouse and waccom tablet, I can type at a reasonable speed exactly what I want to say, how I want to say it.

Writing fiction gives me a perfect conduit to feel like I can be understood.

I believe everyone deserves an equal voice.

To reach flow.

Flow is a state by which someone is driven by a focused energy to be immersed and enjoy an activity without regard for anything else going on.

Achieving a state of flow requires something challenging, measurable, and rewarding.

Writing fills those three criteria for me.

I believe good things happen when people are challenged, have measurable goals, and are rewarded for their accomplishments.

Thank you for reading.

GK

How to get Better as a Writer: The Truth

There are a few things that worked for every writer

There’s no easy way to become a great writer.

There are ways to get better that have worked for other people.

1. Read in your genre.

You discover what exactly you’re trying to write.

It gives you a rolodex of techniques writers use to accomplish things.

Options you have with plot.

You can start in the middle and tell us the rest.

Start at the end and tell us everything.

Duex Ex Machina

Introduce the character that saves everyone from the beginning.

Describe a characters face.

A.) Have another character describe the protagonist.¹

B.) Wipe the characters memory so they discover their own face alongside you.²

C.) Have the character in a disassociated state looking in the mirror.³

D.) Have them wonder how that face can stand for the complex person they are.⁴

E.) Have a beautiful person describe how sentiments of beauty feel.

they’d tell me how pretty I was — but that comment really said nothing about me — Emma Lindsay

Understand of the rules behind those methods.

Describing a persons face.

Looking in the mirror describes vanity.

Otherwise, set up a situation where it’s natural to think about how you look.

That is the benefit of a writer reading books.

2.) Writing is the purpose of a writer.

There is no better way to get good at something than doing it often and for many years.

Writing is the only thing that will make you a better writer.

3.) Get feedback: the input guiding you how to write.

Writing for yourself has it’s benefits.

Writing for others came be far more rewarding.

Writing in an easily digestible form is impossible without feedback.

You can’t read your own writing without letting bias in.

Getting an interested outside opinion is the easiest way to figure out what you are doing well, and what needs work.

With that information, you can direct your efforts to correct your mistakes and capitalize on your strengths.

Editing your own work is the deliberate practice of a writer.

When you hit 10,000 hours of rewriting, you’ll be a skilled writer — Venkatesh Rao

Editing gets you to see what you’ve written from a position of reflection and optimization.

You see mistakes made and errors missed.

Editing is when you improve and grow.

Editing makes a huge difference. If it doesn’t, you aren’t doing it right.

That’s the writing process.

It has to be repeated again and again throughout your writing journey.

That’s the work of the writer. Used over and over for years and months will make you a great writer.

That’s all there’s to it.

Writing, editing, getting feedback aren’t the hard things.

Doing battle by choosing to write day after day, going on despite the rejection a writer faces, choosing writing above more socially acceptable things, and finishing.

Then starting again.

As much as we want a secret that we are missing, a secret to success — it doesn’t exist without the work of writing.

There’s a caveat here.

Some strategies help make you a better writer.

1.) Write every day.

Writing at least 300 words a day.

Start small.

I will think what to write every single day.

I will write something every single day.

Meeting this goal should be doable, but not too easy as well.

Starting to meet these goals turns writing from something fun you do when you have time into something that’s a required part of your day to feel happy.

2.) Write things you aren’t ready to write.

Some ideas are scary to write out.

A skill, understanding of the world, or writing ability isn’t quite good enough.

That’s where the possibility of growth lies.

Doing something hard puts you in a situation were stagnation means failure.

The only way to succeed is to grow.

Choose something challenging that isn’t so hard it crushes your motivation.

Repeated failure is a motivation crusher.

Success and growth keep you coming back day after day.

It’s hijacking your reward system to work for you instead of being led around by it.

3.) Take breaks from writing.

Writing can’t be forced.

Sit at your desk writing until the ideas stop flowing.

Take a short break.

Check facebook or whatever then return to writing.

Those things make a great writer.

GK

Defeating Anxiety: How to Write Awesome Content without Fear

Getting past the anxiety of writing.

Writing awakens your insecurities.

It’s logical.

Writing is a solitary activity. Other people aren’t going to constantly validate or demean your writing. People need that to stay in the game.

Without feedback your insecurities have free rein.

It’s like how you imagine seeing shapes or colors with your eyes closed. There’s nothing there, but something appears. That apparition is from the lack of sensory perception. There’s nothing to see except interference.

Getting feedback from another person or even yourself helps.

Reading over what you’ve written opens your eyes to what’s really there.

In a vacuum of perception, your fears, anxieties and insecurities take over.

Battling Anxiety

1. Before sitting down to write.

Follow your routine.

2. In the process of writing.

Read something you’ve written before that you know is good. Truth scares away anxiety.

3. After you’re done writing.

Ask someone you trust to read it and give you feedback. Don’t be blind to your successes or your improvement.

Perfection doesn’t exist.

Striving for perfection leaves you stranded.

Too scared to try or too scared to move on to something else that could work better.

The goal here is improvement.

Improving is growth. That’s all you want.

Unattainable goals like perfection sap away your motivation.

No matter how hard I try, my goal doesn’t get closer, so why should I even try.

Something achievable keeps you coming back each day.

Coming back day after day and putting in the work separates a great writer from a writer lost in the crowd.

GK

Don’t be a Slave to the Writing Process

Figure out your writing process. Don’t follow one blindly.

There are methods or a “process” that a writer uses.

You’ll be questioned about process if you ever get anything published in any meaningful way. But process can’t be transplanted from writer to writer. It’s something you have to discover for yourself.

Ray Bradbury wrote about his process.¹

  1. Make lists of what he’s thinking, short one to two word phrases.
  2. Find something that has a story behind it and write a lyric poem.
  3. Keep going as lyric poem turns into prose.

Following that process doesn’t work for me.

  1. I can’t write poetry.
  2. I can’t keep lists, because I barely have enough time to write as is.

My method is wildly different.

  1. Meditate daily.
  2. Come up with ideas when inspiration strikes or meditation leads me there.
  3. Run through everything I plan to write again in a meditative state.
  4. Sit down and type very slowly. That’s as fast as I can type.

That process isn’t going to work if your lived experience is different than mine.

Writing is an individualized act.

The product is generally recognized, but there are umpteenth ways to arrive there.

You’ll have varying success with everything you try.

It speaks to how difficult writing is.

You need to discover the process that best suits you.

It’ll be a mixed bag of the processes out there that no other writer uses to the letter.

Things like this are best figured out when you try things, everything you can find within reason until something gets you writing to the best of your ability.

It’ll be something close to who you are deep inside your soul.

Maybe you’re from the meditation camp or the poetry camp.

Whatever works is your process.

Resources

  1. Bradbury, Ray. Zen in The Art of Writing (p. 11-12). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

GK

Don’t be the Odd Writer Out in the Cold

How to be different without being too different as a writer.

Write something that people expect.

Follow the rules of genre gleaned by reading extensively in your genre. Have characters, stories, or settings that are familiar to the reader.

People need to connect with your story from the first line.

Once you have the reader invested in your story, it can show us something different.

  1. Your answer to a common problem
  2. Your plot twist
  3. The thing that sets you apart — your take — the thing that makes this piece worthwhile to read.

Moving too soon into what makes you special as a writer raises the barrier to entry for your readers.

Writing’s true value comes from readers.

If you write from far left field, it alienates the reader.

They never connect with what you written. Engagement isn’t there or the reader for that matter.

It doesn’t matter how well you’ve written something without readers.

Getting your foot in the door is getting harder by the day.

Anyone that wants a website can get one. Anyone can publish a book. Anyone can post a video on Youtube. The vast amount of content out there drowns out good content.

There needs to be something better about your piece.

Something that is relevant to the reader. It could be a character that they see themselves in. A place they’ve been before. Something they’ve done before.

Once they are hooked you can go your own way.

Things can’t change so much that you lose the readers trust, but you have some room.

Connect with your readers lived experience.

GK

Vulnerability for a Genuine Connection with your Reader

The advantage of letting people in through writing.

Connection is a scarce resource.

New ways of connecting like social media, the Twitters and Facebooks of the world simulate connection without delivering.

It’s time to return to what worked in the past, writing.

The opportunity for deep connection is slipping away. Reading is the only way to get that back.

Connecting with your reader is the purpose of publishing writing.

Connection is the purpose of a human life.

It’s the innate spark that has driven everything good we’ve ever done. Writing, scientific discovery, and cooperation are manifestations of that desire.

Being alone is one of the most painful things we can experience.

As writers, we’re in a unique position to fill that need of connection.

Being vulnerable is how you make that happen.

Connection requires the strength to be vulnerable — letting people into your life with the possibility of getting hurt.

That’s one of the things a writer must overcome to connect with readers.

The process goes something like this.

The people reading your work feel close to you.

Readers open their heart and soul to you, because you have already done the same.

Then your message gets across to be interrogated and verified.

If the message pans out, the reader interrogates their life with it.

We’re wired to seek out connection.

Being vulnerable is how you get there.

GK

Repackage your Truth to Write Something Great

The reason to “write what you know”

Write what you’ve lived.

Passion and motivation accrue when your writing something you believe to be. Your lived experience is a powerful tool that gives you insight where few others have it. Because each life is different and everyone is slightly different, we come at things from different perspectives.

People read to find insight about human nature.

That’s why fiction and memoirs sell as well as they do.

Share what you know better than anybody else.

People want truth, and truth comes from life. The life you’ve lived means something no matter how you’ve repackaged it.

Fiction shows a truth about life by changing the situation.

Making the facts stand out like they never could in real life. Sometimes real life can do that too.

You can’t choose your life

You sure can choose characters, a setting, and a plot that shows your truth.

Writing on Medium (where this originally appeared)

Personal stories of facing adversity do really well. That’s the focus of Medium at this point. Fiction is hidden in some back corner.

People come here for stories about people changing

Being true to yourself does really great here, because the community is supportive in a way few places are across the web. Medium is growing a lot still. That has to mean something. Sharing stories of life, of your truth bring people to you. That’s the story Medium tells us.

That’s a formula many prolific writers on Medium employ.

They write personal stories and other types of posts like poetry, fiction, thought pieces, and interviews. Like Meg, Abby Norman, and E Price — the examples I remember off the top of my head.

Put your truth out there and people will come.

GK

Slaughterhouse-Five and The Handmaid’s Tale: Things to Like

Reading can show our lives reflected in a myriad of ways.

I have this allergy to classics.

Most books written before the 1950’s that is. I find sleep creeping up on me like an unfulfilled need. That’s after having a full seven hours sleep and not feeling tired at all. Something about them is dull enough to put me to sleep, and it’s just me. Unlike some, a book before 1950 takes me to sleep quicker than anything else.

Slaughterhouse-Five

I whizzed through the first chapter or two. Those chapters were Vonnegut trying to remember what happened in the war and preparing to write. There was this great exchange that setup the themes to come.

“You were just babies then!” she said.

“What?” I said.

“You were just babies in the war — like the ones upstairs!”

I nodded that this was true…

“But you’re not going to write it that way, are you.” This wasn’t a question. It was an accusation…

So then I understood. It was war that made her so angry.¹

Then the story started. Throughout I was confused about what was going on. The non-linearity threw me off.

Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.

Billy has gone to sleep a senile widower and awakened on his wedding day. He has walked through a door in 1955 and come out another one in 1941. He has gone back through that door to find himself in 1963. He has seen his birth and death many times, he says, and pays random visits to all the events in between.²

I ended up grouping the events of the story into parallel stories.

One was the war. The other was after the war. And the third was being abducted by non-linear aliens. That reminded me of Arrival. The movie is two parallel stories that each follows a linear progression. It’s much easier to follow than the leaping Vonnegut did. That makes me believe I didn’t get everything out of reading Slaughterhouse 5. A whole bunch of symbolism was lost on me.

I kept trying to find a rationale reason for this time hopping.

Maybe he’s in the POW camp imaging his possible future. The more likely scenario is he’s an old man looking back on his life. That distracted me from looking at other more important things. The skipping around was a way to give the reader moments away from the conditions suffered in the POW camp.

A few comical moments made me laugh in the beginning.

But lost their humor. Now, I suspect that was intentional. The dark humor came when some thing dies, and Billy thinks So it goes. It speaks to the universality of death, whether it be fleas, cows, or people.

The Handmaid’s Tale.

It’s about an alternate divergence of history in the 1970’s.

Society regresses to an ancient state. Woman became a possession of men again has it hadn’t been in a while. The pressure on the society was great enough to allow it to happen. The story looked almost prophetic seeing the way history progressed from 2001 onward. The adoption of the Patriot Act in a time of intense pressure from the outside.

Some things in the book made me angry.

Like the way anything could be used to further a decrepit political ideology. The subjugation of a weaker group by the numerous and privileged. The impeachablity of the dominant sex and blaming the subordinate sex. The society described in The Handmaid’s Tale annoyed me, like the backwardness espoused by ethnocentric people. The subjugation of woman by other women was disheartening. Though that is actually a fact a lot of the time. Like the installation of a puppet government by a foreign government. The foreign power chooses a native figurehead and puts them in a position of power over their countrymen. The use of a select portion of the Jewish people by the Nazi’s to police the ghettos set up in Nazi Germany. And the symbolic position of people that had no real power.

The Handmaid’s Tale is about surrogacy without modern medicine.

That basically means state sponsored rape of woman with successful pregnancies and multiple marriages. The fact it’s government sponsored and enforced leads to normalization of rape. Reading through those scenes made me confused, because the Handmaid telling the story was so distant all the time. During the trauma that makes sense, but after it’s confusing. I don’t think society as a whole was ready to have an honest discussion about rape when this book was published.

A few passages resonated with my lived experience.

I’ll list those and explain their significance.

In reduced circumstances you have to believe all kinds of things. I believe in thought transference now, vibrations in the ether, that sort of junk. I never used to.³

I see this happening in my life.

Living with a limiting condition like Muscular Dystrophy is another version of reduced circumstances. That probably had some impact on my belief in meditation. And how ready I am to believe things based on very little evidence. I need that illusion of having control more control than I do with meditation and karma, so the situations I find myself in aren’t quite as helpless as they really are. Control is what we want in life, but the only way to get that is controlling what you can and letting the rest go. Holding control over everything means you have a little control over a lot of things. When all we really need is great/er control of the few things that matter, like our view of the world, and the way we move through it.

In reduced circumstances the desire to live attaches itself to strange objects. I would like a pet: a bird, say, or a cat. A familiar. Anything at all familiar. A rat would do, in a pinch, but there’s no chance of that.⁴

I hang on to things I’ve made.

Especially with abilities I no longer possess like drawing, writing with a pencil, or walking. And the projects I devote my limited time to like the stories I’ve written. When people lose a little of the autonomy that those around them have, they cling to the limited things that they have control over.

It’s impossible to say a thing exactly the way it was, because what you say can never be exact, you always have to leave something out, there are too many parts, sides, crosscurrents, nuances; too many gestures, which could mean this or that, too many shapes which can never be fully described, too many flavors, in the air or on the tongue, half-colors, too many.⁵

I include too much detail.

This is something I encountered in the beginning of my writing journey. My stories were too muddled with extraneous description making it completely uninteresting to read. Some blog posts I’ve written were like that a year ago. Choosing specific details, the right details separates first-hand experiences from imagined situations. But choosing that is a mental process so replicable. That’s what using senses in your writing is all about. Choosing the right details to put into writing the transport you there, and make something more real than fiction ought to be.

You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have yourself.⁶

We want things we believe we deserve.

When things don’t happen how we like, we fixate on those qualities we hoped to attain but failed at. Then we see it everywhere around where it wasn’t noticed before. Jealousy happens when we want things we can’t have. Other people that have those things become the focus of our jealousy. That reminded me of the rampant jealousy I feel, because there’s so much I can’t do that I ought to be able to do. You can be jealous of anyone if they have something you believe you’re entitled to. The costs of those things are lost, just the object is remembered. Like writing everyday requires giving up other things like reading articles, social media, checking e-mails, listening to music, or responsibilities. People just remember the accomplishment of making progress. The cost is payable, and the benefit is attainable.

The arrival of the tray, carried up the stairs as if for an invalid. An invalid, one who has been invalidated.⁷

People can be invalidated by taking away their autonomy.

But an invalid suffered from an injury or disease. That was a powerful reminder of the fact that people can only take away what you allow them to. I have always been impaired by Muscular Dystrophy. My struggle has been making people see beyond my physical appearance to the stuff inside. I’m like everyone else on the inside. The only thing wrong with me is the external — my muscles are weak. Fighting for what I am, the person inside to be seen has been with me my whole life. What other people think about my ability doesn’t change the facts.

God is love, they once said, but we reversed that, and love, like heaven, was always just around the corner. The more difficult it was to love the particular man beside us, the more we believed in Love, abstract and total.⁸

Love is a concept that we need to believe in.

It’s a security blanket that we will find this magic person that makes us feel loved the way our parents loved us. It’s like hope. It’s like God. It’s like dreams. Those concepts are what we need to keep living life. They are the promises that keep us going. Without them there is no life — there is on death — there is no meaning. Things that are necessary don’t fade away. They endure. They become justified no matter the circumstances. They grow to meet challenges. They are immune to the wear of time. They don’t fade away. There is no recourse in life but to believe, to have faith that they are always right and pure. Then to see things just right so that the illusion never blinks out of existence, because they are necessary for life.

I’m a refugee from the past, and like other refugees I go over the customs and habits of being I’ve left or been forced to leave behind me, and it all seems just as quaint, from here, and I am just as obsessive about it… I become too maudlin, lose myself. Weep.⁹

Things might change but there is always something left of the old.

Change isn’t to wash clean a chalkboard and write something new. Change is painting over an old masterpiece and leaving bits of the old in place to marry with the new. Things don’t vanish. They are reinvented, tweaked, and damaged, but they never disappear from existence no matter how we cling or try to forget. Things never leave the world. They are remade over and over. Transformation isn’t transient. It’s the constant state of life. Even death isn’t stagnation. It’s a redistribution.

That’s all I have on these two great books.


Hope you enjoyed reading. Please clap if you did.

References

  1. Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five (pp. 18–19). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.
  2. Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five (p. 29). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.
  3. Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale (p. 105). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
  4. Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale (p. 111). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
  5. Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale (p. 134). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
  6. Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale (p. 161). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
  7. Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale (p. 224). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
  8. Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale (pp. 225–226). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
  9. Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale (p. 227). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

GK

Reading about Writing

 

I read another book about writing as part of my DIY MFA. It’s Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands by Michael Chabon. He’s one of the authors I enjoy reading. I’ve only read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay so far. His writing was the third adult book I’ve ever read.

 

Maps and Legends in an anthology of roughly two dozen essays by Chabon. It’s about his thoughts and how he wrote his works. Throughout a few thesis ideas emerge. I’ll do my best to summarize those points. There’s a lot packed in 274 pages.

 

Successful writers bring new ideas that fit together well. Examples were the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and the series His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the first to write about the detective with a series to characters giving their takes on event. All in the direction of unraveling the central mystery. Those nested story didn’t explore, distract, or rephrase that said before; they added information. That’s basically the difference between literary and the beginning of genre fiction.

 

In His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman a few key ideas combine to make a great story. Those plot elements, rules of the world, character traits all have to combine to enhance the story. Just serving as a wall the character faces and changes to overcome isn’t enough. That’s what happens so much in fiction. The cowardly face the obstacles that most challenges them. Feats of courage. Like how Froto has to leave the only home he has ever known. How Sam wants to be a good person so he goes. Every character is designed to be a foil to the things they face. Like Ethan’s struggle in Pines, Book 1 of Wayward Pines by Blake Crouch. His time in the military makes the resistance he faces in the small town that much worse. Or how Harry feels alone until he finds a community in the Wizarding World. I always thought my plots were good enough, but I’m missing a huge part. The resonance achieved by plot elements, character traits, and the rules of the world must play each off the other. I’ve been missing that key consideration so far.

 

The idea that ghost stories are the beginning of short stories. I would argue that a little bit. Sure they were around in the beginning. But previous stories aren’t always a direct blueprint for what comes after. Hauntings from sight unseen seems an obscure place for short stories to begin with. But isn’t something hanging in your thoughts like that in a literary story? Things lurk in your head from defining moments. Until you deal with them, they hang around haunting you. I agree that ghost stories could be the precursor to literary short stories. That connection could help when I get stuck. Maybe I’ll use it.

 

Fiction is the bridge between things imagined and things real. Fiction has fictitious parts. It’s in the name after all. But some things connect it with reality. That’s always something. How real the characters feel in fantasy. How some science still works how we think in science fiction. How the sky and the environment is normal in thrillers. But characters are the big things that make something real. Those bits of real are required for the reader to believe that somewhere out in the multi-verse the story is actually possible. In other words, fiction must always be relatable.

 

Something you’re exposed to serves as inspiration. It doesn’t have to be the most obvious things. If you look hard enough, ruminate hard enough inspiration strikes. Some things work better than others. It’s the writer’s purview to decide what stories to go after. Choosing could very well determine success or failure.

 

Maps and Legends fills me with hope for the future in writing. There’s a long way to go before I can’t progress further in writing. Writing and reading will never end up on the dust heaps of history. There’s more. Humble roots and inexperience don’t matter. Get your head down and write.

 

GK

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