Don’t wake your reader up or you’ll put them to sleep

Posted: July 16, 2015 in graffiti living
Tags: , , ,

“In the writing state—the state of inspiration—the fictive dream springs up fully alive: the writer forgets the words he has written on the page and sees, instead, his characters moving around their rooms, hunting through cupboards, glancing irritably through their mail, setting mousetraps, loading pistols. The dream is as alive and compelling as one’s dreams at night, and when the writer writes down on paper what he has imagined, the words, however inadequate, do not distract his mind from the fictive dream but provide him with a fix on it, so that when the dream flags he can reread what he’s written and find the dream starting up again. This and nothing else is the desperately sought and tragically fragile writer’s process: in his imagination, he sees made-up people doing things — sees them clearly — and in the act of wondering what they will do next he sees what they will do next, and all this he writes down in the best, most accurate words he can find, understanding even as he writes that he may have to find better words later, and that a change in the words may mean a sharpening or deepening of the vision, the fictive dream or vision becoming more and more lucid, until reality, by comparison, seems cold, tedious, and dead.”
– John Gardner, “The Art of Fiction”

If you’re writing fiction then anything can happen — so long as you earn it by making your world believable.

Your readers will stop reading if you bore them or break their suspension of disbelief.

Life doesn’t have to make sense but fiction does at least have to pretend to be plausible whilst you read it.

Would your character commit suicide by cop or quietly choke to death on their own vomit after a drug overdose?

Does your alcoholic detective speak like a character in a Shakespearean tragedy or just misquote Shakespeare?

A little realism goes a long way.


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