Ten Obvious Truths About Fiction
The following essay was previewed in the class that Stephen Graham Jones taught for LitReactor, Your Life Story Is Five Pages Long. 1. The reader should never have to work to figure out the basics of your story. Who’s whose wife or husband, what the time period is if that matters, why these people have broken into this house, and on and on, just the basic, ground-level facts about your story. If you don’t relay that stuff up-front, as quickly and efficiently as possible (and please don’t be fancy), then your story becomes a game of three-card-monty, with you hiding information under this or that shell, trying to keep everything moving fast enough that nobody knows what’s going on. Which is to say your story becomes about the reading of the story, not the experience the story is trying to get the reader to engage. 2. Meaning you don’t have to lay every last detail of every last thing out. The best writers are the ones who can cover the most distance with the fewest words. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
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