“You Might Lock It, and Put What You Like Against It, But After a While You Would Find it Open”


z0847-cunning-and-craftWhy, oh why did I pick such a ridiculously long title for this blog entry? Don’t we read ENOUGH during the week… newspapers, paperbacks, memos, letters – the internet alone is cluttered with words! So, why the unnecessarily lengthy title?

Well, writer, it’s a quote from Elliot O’ Donnell’s The Door that Would Never Keep Shut, a short horror story that I’m just beginning to devour. Excited about it!

But before I dip into O’ Donnell, I peruse The Writer’s Digest (not too bad of a magazine). I come across this wonderful article in their Get Creative section. The title: Fiction is About People. Let’s gulp that down for a second. Alone, this statement requires more than just a boundless imagination. It requires study, research, and the assessment of life and its many players. It requires a dirty dissection through our own skin to discover the motive, the ego steering our fate. Selgin refers to the readers as “witnesses”, which (to me) means that our writing should confess; it should divulge enough information to keep the reader captivated, so that the reader may follow your protagonist from room to room, like a ghost. Fiction truly is about people.

Anyway, this is the first chapter in Peter Selgin’s book, By Cunning and Craft, Sound Advice and Practical Wisdom for Fiction Writers. I haven’t read the book; but, what I’ve discovered so far breathes a philosophical perspective into creating a character. Click here to read the rest of the article.

And here is an excerpt:

“Some people say they don’t read fiction, because when they read they want to learn something; they don’t want to waste time on stuff that’s not true. They are misguided. You can learn plenty from other kinds of books. But if you want to learn about human nature, fiction’s the place to go. Biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs will take you only so people deep into the human psyche. And what a politician or celebrity says about herself and what she really thinks and feels are doubtlessly different things. How else but through fiction can you stand in a motel room with two adulterous lovers after a postcoital quarrel, and see not only their gestures and the looks on their faces, but what’s in their heads? How else can you learn what it’s like to hack your landlady to death, or to feel the wham of a dose of heroin, or to cower in a muddy trench in the Battle of the Somme—and not just be told about it, but experience it personally?” — Peter Selgin, Fiction is People


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