I would like to share with you some notes from some of my old notebooks. These notes are dated 31 August 2001. This morning I was doing my laundry and as usual wondering what I would write for my daily column.
As I was putting laundry away in the same chest-of-drawers where I keep old notebooks and manuscripts in my bedroom, I opened a drawer and picked up several notebook pages held together by a paper clip.
Now you have to understand I was very much into my Hemingway stage when I wrote these notes. I was trying to organize my thoughts about what kind of writer I wanted to be and to put it all down on paper. I was oh so serious.
Objectives and Aesthetics
My objective is to reduce the language as far as possible to its pictographic origins; to strip it to sense perceptions and to give action meaning through form. I do not want the reader to think. The language must be simple. I want the reader to experience the story on a subconscious level and only afterwards to have the intellect engaged. Of course this is the ideal.
For my purposes life is a tragedy; it ends in death. How does my protagonist deal with this fact? How does he (she) give his (her) life meaning? Since there can be no physical victory over death, a moral victory is the only possibility. Therefore my protagonist must live by a moral code in order to achieve a spiritual transcendence over death. This code is simple but rigid: to live fully in the moment without illusions. Only by stripping away the comforting illusions of childhood can life be truly experienced in its total horror and beauty. The conflict is the movement from childhood to maturity. This means as a writer I can not use metaphors or similes because they do not exist in reality. They are creations of the intellect and stand as buffers between the protagonist and experience. Nouns strung together come closes to the flow of reality. Adverbs and adjectives dilute this flow, so must be used sparingly.
Dialogue must do five things: (1) move the action forward, (2) provide tension intricate to the arc of the story, (3) characterized the speaker, (4) explicate and echo the nuances of the theme, (5) clue the reader as to where the speaker is on the thematic continuum.
The authentic passion to write transcends the writer–Guy Hogan
Time, place and main characters must be given in a short first paragraph. The story must be told through action and dialogue. Description takes the place of exposition. Many times the significant event happens just before the story opens, or will happen just after the story ends.
The story is complete when it can no longer be distilled. The time frame of the story should be as short as possible, hours to a few minutes. Backstory must be eliminated or kept absolutely minimal.
Wow. These notes are a howl. I’m glad I’ve mellowed since I wrote these notes. I’m also glad that these notes still impact the way I write fiction.
This is the Old Soldier reporting for the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette, the premiere online publication of erotica for men and women who enjoy art, creative writing, culture and explicit sex all in the pages of the same magazine.
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