Victor Standish here. Where's Roland you ask?
Well, he's having such a bad week at work, even he doesn't quite know, except that it is somewhere in the vicinity of the backend of an 8 ball.
So being his bud, here I am. But what do I know about writing? Plenty.
Quit snickering, Alice.
Think about it :
what you need to write well you already know just from living.
I.) Like Elu would say :
A.) To master yourself is the 1st step in mastering story-telling.
B.) In other words : life skills are story skills.
C.) You don't have to take lessons like with tennis to survive on the streets.
D.) But what you do need to know :
1.) Mind your surroundings before they mind you.
2.) Be aware of the pattern of predators before you become prey.
3.) Routes of escape : spot the exit soon as you slip through the front door.
E.) Put those details into your story, and it will seem real.
(But it won't be real ...)
II.) Good story telling seems real but isn't :
1.) Unlike life, a good story is compressed.
The interesting stuff is linked 1-2-3 ... with all the boring stuff left out.
2.) Unlike life, a good story makes sense.
a.) If your life is like mine (and I feel sorry for you if it is) then most days are filled with things that flat don't make sense.
b.) A good story has to make sense if you want your reader to stay with you ... those three ghosts promised at the beginning of THE CHRISTMAS CAROL had darn well better show up.
3.) Unlike life, a good story is focused :
Target on those happenings that are important to your hero. Ouch! OK, Alice ... or to your heroine, too.
a.) Focus in a good story leaves out all those irritating things that don't push the story forward.
b.) No hands (or details) pushing sideways on my stalled car, please.
B.) All reality doesn't contain truth -- I mean, listen to those politicians.
1.) But your story has to ring with truth in order
to sell it as real to your reader.
2.) And it must fit the story type you're writing :
You don't try to fit an eagle in a parakeet cage or a pit bull in a terrier's doghouse.
3.) Knowing what size canvas you need is what prose painting is all about.
It'd be hard to write about the air war in WWI through the eyes of a soldier who spends the story in the trenches, coughing up nerve gas.
III.) Good story telling first depends on you having a good story that grabs the reader and won't let him go.
A.) Some woman in Wal-Mart cut in front of me in the 20 item line. And get this : she had 21 items. (Yawn.)
B.) Some crazy lady in Wal-Mart pulled a gun on me and took all my money, then she shot the clerk as she ran away. She turned to me as she flew out of the door, and you'll never guess what she yelled at me.
1.) That's a story that you NEED to tell.
2.) More importantly, that's a story people WANT to hear and to know what happened next.
IV.) A good story is closure.
A.) Closure -- yeah, that funny sounding word you adults use all the time when the pain hurts too bad to get your hands around it.
B.) Victor's definition of closure (even though, like Huck Finn, I don't do school) -- closure is just a kid-glove way of saying "making the equation come out right."
You know, X + 5B = 3Y ("Unsupervised Politician + Lots of Money = Theft.)
C.) Finding a meaningful outcome for rape, murder,
or a mother abandoning her son in mean city after mean city.
You know, like that.
V.) A good story doesn't necessarily have a happy outcome ...
Just a way of living with it
Dying because of it. (I've seen some people only find closure in the grave.)
A.) Sometimes tears are the only way to finish the story, the moment, the situation
B.) Sometimes tears are the only answer to the equation of life.
VI.) But life, like a math test, always has new problems to solve.
A.) And so does the good story.
B.) The closure of it only leads the reader in search of another connection, another good story.
C.) Seeing the road going on for some or all of the main characters leaves the reader feeling as if she had dropped in on the events of real people with real lives that go on over the horizon.
VII.) Leave them hungry for more ...
Ah, Alice, is that your stomach growling? Alice? Don't look at my fingers like that.
Hey, Roland! Quick! Where's the roughest street around here? Fast!
Damn. Harry Potter never had problems like this.
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