Tutorial | Fiction Writing
Seeing through the torrent of time.
If you’re trying to write fiction, somehow there is too much information and never enough to give you a good footing, we’re drowning in advice. I think I understand a little of the process, let me explain, perhaps it will get your feet on solid ground.
Where’s the story?
Michelangelo famously said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” He did this by removing all the extra bits of stone. That’s exactly what finding a story is like. In a character’s life, all kinds of things are happening from the mundane to the mystical. Star craft may be warping in and out of time, armies may be on the march, and your character may be looking for a sandwich. How do you know what’s important? Where is the story in the tumult of a character’s life?
Somewhere in the rushing torrent of things that are happening, there is a distinct storyline. A continuous narrative of events when taken together, makes up a chain of events that has meaning for our main character. We follow characters along their chains of events, but that’s not the story. That’s just stuff happening. We get hung up in the entertainment dimensions of stories, but that’s almost always a sugar coat.
The Sugar Coat:
In good stories, the sugar coat is basically it’s all the fun, exciting events that we enjoy in movies. It’s the eye candy and special effects we can’t seem to get enough of. In good stories, the sugar coat is overlaid on top of deeper issues with which our characters are engaged. Great stories take this one step further, their sugar coats are used to hide the author’s intent to isolate aspects of the human condition and explore them via the vehicle of story.
We’re not trying to do that here. Lol. Not yet anyways but there’s the path forward. Whilst we’re distracted by the sugar coats, our subconscious minds are grooving on the internal struggles our characters are going through. That’s why we read; to learn how characters respond to an endless catalog of challenges we may one day be called upon to…