Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fiction Workshop Second class

What does a story need in order for me to enjoy it?

I need a story to capture my attention in the first two or three sentences. If I've gotten a good recommendation about a particular novel I might be able to wait a chapter or two, but I want a sense early on that a story is going to go somewhere and getting there in a hurry.

I prize clear and precise language. If the right word is five syllables long and I need a Google search to find what it means, then so be it. But, my assumption is that everyday words are more than fine for everyday situations. The professor talked about words being delicious fruit, which I think is a good metaphor. The thing about fruit, though, is that I don't want fruit for every meal. 

Except for blueberries. Because that's different.

The last thing I'd say is I like stories that end with a definite but ambiguous ending. The example I often use is Faulkner's final image for "The Bear." A tree being defended by a deranged hunter while squirrels scamper around. It's strange, specific, and compelling. That's what I want endings to be in stories.
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