Sunday, February 7, 2021


 Each time you present yourself to compose fiction or personal narrative, you place yourself in the uneasy terrain between opposing forces. You may indeed be taken down, either by an enemy or the more likely prospect of friendly fire.

You mean no harm, or so you say. You set forth to demonstrate or learn--or both. You have learned little at this point in you life, enough to keep you afloat and working. Your mot precious asset beyond life itself the curiosity that brings you to this unsettling, dangerous terrain. You are curious to see how products of your imagination will fare on stages designed in the trance-like states of your awareness.

Among the scant library of your knowledge, this slim volume, Nature Abhors a Vacuum, Drama Detests Neutrality, awaits your consultation, right next to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, unabridged.  Whomever your characters may represent, they should emerge as opponents in some contest of strategy: chess pieces, solid and striped billiard balls, Dorothy Gale and the Wicked Witch. There can be no outcome without conflict. You cannot hope to compose fiction from a safe remove. You must take the role of a trespasser, sooner or later.

When you compose fiction, your fulcrum is the truth each of your characters see. If you project characters whose moral compasses bear close relationship to yours, you will not have story. Perhaps you'll get some idiom of encouragement or acceptance, but your characters will not be able to withstand the inner and outer storms so necessary in memorable fiction. Your characters will see acceptance and rejection as conditions they dare not confront.

When you compose your own history, you are trimming and cutting Reality as you saw it; you are casting yourself as a protagonist or antagonist in a combat where you have the power to alter meaning and outcome. If your dramatic self requires deeper, more significant events, why of course, you produce them. If your dramatic self despairs of outcome, you shift your narrative and your tone to living for the moment rather than for achievement.

Fiction and life translate best through action verbs. The basic pulse of each is the stimulus and its response, often referred to as the beat.  The best days of writing come when you set forth enough stimulus to cause an avalanche, from which you run to protect yourself from being buried.

Then you dust yourself off, get such sleep and coffee as you can, then return to investigate the mess you have caused.

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