Flash Fiction – “CLASSIFIED” by Tre Taylor

*THE FOLLOWING INTERVIEW EXCERPT HAS BEEN DEEMED CLASSIFIED BY THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF PARANORMAL RESEARCH(FBPR) AND THE CENTER FOR DARK ARTS AGENCY(CDAA) *

INTERVIEWER NAME:CLASSIFIED

INT: so when you all entered the college grounds you were immediately accosted by Onivirus victims and what happened after that?

Survivor 1:We entered the student center and worked our way through a large group of the demon fuckers – our special name for them. We formed a diamond formation back to back dropping Oni heads everywhere. Only reason we survived for this long is….

All Survivor’s in unison:WE ALWAYS WATCH EACH OTHER’S BACKS!!!

Survivor 3: Then we made our way over to the pantry area of the food court and found some food that was still edible and stocked up. Apparently someone slammed one of the demon heads on the kitchen grill, the stench was rank and unbearable , but hey we found food- so fuck him!

INT: Sounds like a heinous situation. Did things get better or worse after that?

Survivor 2:I had to jump from table to table slicing through Oni heads once we walked out of the pantry area and laid waist to the oni. My age and height were an advantage not a disadvantage, I’m a SURVIVOR!

Survivor 4:[CLASSIFIED] sliced through those ONI heads with precision,clarity and the proper level of grit.He reminded me of my little brother before I lost him.

Survivor 2: Thanks for the help of swinging me around to get those last two. Now… don’t you wish you had my trusty old blade tipped boots……came in handy huh?

Survivor 4: Hahaha… that they did, that they did.

INT: So I take it you all weren’t out of the woods yet?

Survivor 6: NOT…BY…A…LONG SHOT! We then made our way over to the bookstore, searching through the knickknacks at the store’s register we found some pocket lighters. We planned on using the pocket lighters for when we might need to try and get a fire started. There was some noise coming from the back stock room we already knew what was behind that door though….

Survivor 7: [CLASSIFIED] and I knew what we had to do, we grabbed some aerosol can’s of disinfectant spray and two lighters and prepared ourselves. The sound was rumbling, the air was tense, our hearts…..calm. We weren’t worried we had been in this place before and it wasn’t anything new. We calmed our breathing and prepared our souls.

Survivor 6: We heard a repetitive knocking and hitting on the other side of the door.We turned the knob and opened the door and there we saw a mini plethora of oni demons. No doubt…no hesitation..no thinking all we knew was it was either us or them . And you damn well better believe it wasn’t going to be us.

Survivor 7: Without any thought, feeling or care we both sprayed mini fire balls all over the oni’s in a unison motion together using the spray can’s and lighters as mini flame throwers.

Survivor 5: Of course the oni heads being set on fire set of the fire sprinklers so we booked out of there,because we knew it would be a a matter of time for the smoke alarms got set off .We ducked into room called Career Services and found a few workers who had been turned to Oni.

Survivor 3: Hands, heads, legs …all liberated from the oni demon fuckers bodies. Another day…. another dead Oni, there deaths were our lifeblood, our ace in the hole, our hope for not giving up. Stumbling through some back doors in the Career Services area we made our way to a room full of computers.

Survivor 8: I was hiding in the media lab in the student center when they found me…the group…the family….my family. I had almost given up hope until this great group of people found me.

Survivor 1: Yeah [CLASSIFIED] was about to end it all and then we showed him that to truly live one must not fear death, but accept it, believe in it, and honor it. Honor it like the samurai warriors of yesteryear-to embrace death is to live with true honor.

Survivor 8: It was a way of life that transcended everything. Death, fear, suffering none of it mattered anymore. To survive.. to live…nothing more, nothing less.

Survivor 1: We found a back door after we passed through the student mail area. The envelopes, the papers, the ink, the words, the letters every minute detail mattered…just like all of our lives…………

End of Recording interview # 3 ;CASE FILE*******;SUBMITTED BY :AGENT [CLASSIFIED]

“CLASSIFIED” by Tre Taylor

Writing Pep Talk from Nick Hornby (nanowrimo.org)

http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/nick-hornby

Pep Talk from Nick Hornby

One of the questions that is probably troubling you at the moment is this: How do I know whether I’m a writer? And the question can only be answered with another question: Well, do you write? If you don’t, you’re not. If you do, you are. There’s nothing else to it. If, in a month’s time, you have produced a novel, or a chunk of a novel, and you have never written before, then you will have changed your status, simply and crucially. Ah, but are you a good writer? Because that’s probably the question that best articulates the nagging doubt that has held you up hitherto. And I’m afraid you will never know the answer to that one. No writer does. (Some writers think they do, but they are usually wrong.)

By contrast, it is easy to tell whether you are a good high jumper. If you knock the bar down every time, then I regret to tell you that you are not. You cannot be an underrated high jumper, or an unlucky high jumper, or an overpraised high jumper, or a high jumper whose reputation relies entirely on his or her connections to the wealthy and influential. Your high-jumping work cannot be trashy or elitist or obscure or sentimental. If you work in the arts, however, life can get pretty confusing. There is no bar to knock down, and as a consequence, there is no sturdy judgment to be made. Shakespeare—he was good, right? Like, officially? Tolstoy didn’t think so, and neither did George Bernard Shaw.

It’s no good looking to writers for definitions of what constitutes proper writing, because you will drive yourself crazy, and you won’t find anything that you can build into a coherent whole. “Writing a book, full time, takes between two and ten years,” Annie Dillard said in her book “The Writing Life.” Tell that to PG Wodehouse, who wrote ninety-eight books and forty-five plays in a seventy-five year career. You could argue, I suppose, if you were singularly obtuse, that Wodehouse was a humourist, and therefore didn’t write real books. Yet there are many people, and I am one of them, who think that Wodehouse was one of the greatest English prose stylists of the last one hundred years. Wodehouse wrote, wrote fast, made money, produced prose and characters that have endured. He looks like a real writer to me. OK, here’s some advice: If you find yourself producing a book every few weeks, don’t panic. It could mean you’re a comic genius.

It’s a mess, the arts. Critics don’t agree with each other, readers don’t agree with critics. And real writers—if I may become definitive for a moment—change their minds about their own worth and talent somewhere between two and seven hundred times a day.

I’m trying to tell you that your own opinion of your work is entirely irrelevant, and so is the opinion of others. You have a job to do, and that job is to write a novel. You have a bar to jump over, in fact. And to jump over that bar, you will need a pen (or pencil), or a typewriter, and paper. Or a computer. Or some kind of recording device, and someone with a keyboard who loves you very much. You will need to stop checking Facebook every five minutes, and to this end I recommend an app called Freedom, which will block you from your own internet for hours at a stretch. You need a story and characters and something to say about them, although it’s possible that some of these elements won’t arrive until after you’ve begun. You don’t need an agent or a grant or a publisher’s advance, and you don’t need to know whether your book will be studied at university in two hundred years’ time.

Walk into a bookshop and you will see books that you love and books that you hate, books that were written in three weeks and books that took thirty years, books that were written under the influence of drugs and alcohol, books that were written in splendid isolation, books that were written in Starbucks. Some of them were written with enormous enjoyment, some for money, some in fear and loathing and despair. The only thing they all have in common—and actually there is the odd honourable exception even to this rule—is that their authors finished them, sooner or later. How do I do it? I swear, and smoke, and hate myself for my presumption. And if any of that works for you, then I’m happy to have helped.

Nick

On Writing(Essay) – Raymond Carver (nytimesreviewofbooks)

I had to share this great essay on writing from one of my favorite writers – Raymond Carver – great writing advice on the art of storytelling, enjoy !

-E

http://www.nytimes.com/books/01/01/21/specials/carver-shoptalk.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Aw

February 15, 1981

A Storyteller’s Shoptalk

By RAYMOND CARVER

When I was 27, back in 1966, I found I was having trouble concentrating my attention on long narrative fiction. For a time I experienced difficulty in trying to read it as well as in attempting to write it. My attention span had gone out on me; I no longer had the patience to try to write novels. It’s an involved story, too tedious to talk about here. But I know it has much to do now with why I write poems and short stories. Get in, get out. Don’t linger. Go on. It could be that I lost any great ambitions at about the same time, in my late 20’s. If I did, I think it was good it happened. Ambition and a little luck are good things for a writer to have going for him. Too much ambition and bad luck, or no luck at all, can be killing. There has to be talent.

Some writers have a bunch of talent; I don’t know any writers who are without it. But a unique and exact way of looking at things, and finding the right context for expressing that way of looking, that’s something else. ”The World According to Garp” is of course the marvelous world according to John Irving. There is another world according to Flannery O’Connor, and others according to William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. There are worlds according to Cheever, Updike, Singer, Stanley Elkin, Ann Beattie, Cynthia Ozick, Donald Barthelme, Mary Robison, William Kittredge, Barry Hannah. Every great, or even every very good writer, makes the world over according to his own specifications.

It’s akin to style, what I’m talking about, but it isn’t style alone. It is the writer’s particular and unmistakable signature on everything he writes. It is his world and no other. This is one of the things that distinguishes one writer from another. Not talent. There’s plenty of that around. But a writer who has some special way of looking at things and who gives artistic expression to that way of looking: that writer may be around for a time.

Isak Dinesen said that she wrote a little every day, without hope and without despair. Someday I’ll put that on a three-by-five card and tape it to the wall beside my desk. I have some three-by-five cards on the wall now. ”Fundamental accuracy of statement is the ONE sole morality of writing.” Ezra Pound. It is not everything by ANY means, but if a writer has ”fundamental accuracy of statement” going for him, he’s at least on the right track.

I have a three-by-five up there with this fragment of a sentence from a story by Chekhov: ”… and suddenly everything became clear to him.” I find these words filled with wonder and possibility. I love their simple clarity, and the hint of revelation that is implied. There is a bit of mystery, too. What has been unclear before? Why is it just now becoming clear? What’s happened? Most of all – what now? There are consequences as a result of such sudden awakenings. I feel a sharp sense of relief – and anticipation.

I overheard the writer Geoffrey Wolff say ”No cheap tricks” to a group of writing students. That should go on a three-by-five card. I’d amend it a little to ”No tricks.” Period. I hate tricks. At the first sign of a trick or a gimmick in a piece of fiction, a cheap trick or even an elaborate trick, I tend to look for cover. Tricks are ultimately boring, and I get bored easily, which may go along with my not having much of an attention span. But extremely clever chi-chi writing, or just plain tomfoolery writing, puts me to sleep. Writers don’t need tricks or gimmicks or even necessarily need to be the smartest fellows on the block. At the risk of appearing foolish, a writer sometimes needs to be able to just stand and gape at this or that thing – a sunset or an old shoe – in absolute and simple amazement.

Some months ago, in this Book Review, John Barth said that 10 years ago most of the students in his fiction writing seminar were interested in ”formal innovation,” and this no longer seems to be the case. He’s a little worried that writers are going to start writing mom and pop novels in the 1980’s. He worries that experimentation may be on the way out, along with liberalism. I get a little nervous if I find myself within earshot of somber discussion about ”formal innovation” in fiction writing. Too often ”experimentation” is a license to be careless, silly or imitative in the writing. Even worse, a license to try to brutalize or alienate the reader. Too often such writing gives us no news of the world, or else describes a desert landscape and that’s all – a few dunes and lizards here and there, but no people; a place uninhabited by anything recognizably human, a place of interest only to a few scientific specialists.

It should be noted that real experiment in fiction is original, hard-earned and cause for rejoicing. But someone else’s way of looking at things – Barthelme’s, for instance – should not be chased after by other writers. It won’t work. There is only one Barthelme, and for another writer to try to appropriate Barthelme’s peculiar sensibility or mise en scene under the rubric of innovation is for that writer to mess around with chaos and disaster and, worse, selfdeception. The real experimenters have to Make It New, as Pound urged, and in the process have to find things out for themselves. But if writers haven’t taken leave of their senses, they also want to stay in touch with us, they want to carry news from their world to ours.

It’s possible, in a poem or a short story, to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language, and to endow those things – a chair, a window curtain, a fork, a stone, a woman’s earrings – with immense, even startling power. It is possible to write a line of seemingly innocuous dialogue and have it send a chill along the reader’s spine – the source of artistic delight, as Nabokov would have it. That’s the kind of writing that most interests me. I hate sloppy or haphazard writing whether it flies under the banner of experimentation or else is just clumsily rendered realism. In Isaac Babel’s wonderful short story, ”Guy de Maupassant,” the narrator has this to say about the writing of fiction: ”No iron can pierce the heart with such force as a period put just at the right place.” This too ought to go on a three-by-five.

Evan Connell said once that he knew he was finished with a short story when he found himself going through it and taking out commas and then going through the story again and putting commas back in the same places. I like that way of working on something. I respect that kind of care for what is being done. That’s all we have, finally, the words, and they had better be the right ones, with the punctuation in the right places so that they can best say what they are meant to say. If the words are heavy with the writer’s own unbridled emotions, or if they are imprecise and inaccurate for some other reason – if the words are in any way blurred -the reader’s eyes will slide right over them and nothing will be achieved. The reader’s own artistic sense will simply not be engaged. Henry James called this sort of hapless writing ”weak specification.”

I have friends who’ve told me they had to hurry a book because they needed the money, their editor or their wife was leaning on them or leaving them – something, some apology for the writing not being very good. ”It would have been better if I’d taken the time.” I was dumbfounded when I heard a novelist friend say this. I still am, if I think about it, which I don’t. It’s none of my business. But if the writing can’t be made as good as it is within us to make it, then why do it? In the end it’s all we have, the only thing we can take into the grave. I wanted to say to my friend, for heaven’s sake go do something else. There have to be easier and maybe more honest ways to try and earn a living. Or else just do it to the best of your abilities, your talents, and then don’t justify or make excuses. Don’t complain, don’t explain.

In an essay called, simply enough, ”Writing Short Stories,” Flannery O’Connor talks about writing as an act of discovery. O’Connor says she most often did not know where she was going when she sat down to work on a short story. She says she doubts that many writers know where they are going when they begin something. She uses ”Good Country People” as an example of how she put together a short story whose ending she could not even guess at until she was nearly there:

”When I started writing that story, I didn’t know there was going to be a Ph.D. with a wooden leg in it. I merely found myself one morning writing a description of two women I knew something about, and before I realized it, I had equipped one of them with a daughter with a wooden leg. I brought in the Bible salesman, but I had no idea what I was going to do with him. I didn’t know he was going to steal that wooden leg until ten or twelve lines before he did it, but when I found out that this was what was going to happen, I realized it was inevitable.”

When I read this some years ago it came as a shock that she, or anyone for that matter, wrote stories in this fashion. I thought this was my uncomfortable secret, and I was just a little uneasy with it. For sure I thought this way of working on a short story somehow revealed my own shortcomings. I remember being tremendously heartened by reading what she had to say on the subject.

I once sat down to write what turned out to be a pretty good story, though only the first sentence of the story had offered itself to me when I began it. For several days I’d been going around with this sentence in my head: ”He was running the vacuum cleaner when the telephone rang.” I knew a story was there and that it wanted telling. I felt it in my bones, that a story belonged with that beginning, if I could just have the time to write it. I found the time, an entire day – twelve, fifteen hours even – if I wanted to make use of it. I did, and I sat down in the morning and wrote the first sentence, and other sentences promptly began to attach themselves. I made the story just as I’d make a poem; one line and then the next, and the next. Pretty soon I could see a story, and I knew it was my story, the one I’d been wanting to write.

I like it when there is some feeling of threat or sense of menace in short stories. I think a little menace is fine to have in a story. For one thing, it’s good for the circulation. There has to be tension, a sense that something is imminent, that certain things are in relentless motion, or else, most often, there simply won’t be a story. What creates tension in a piece of fiction is partly the way the concrete words are linked together to make up the visible action of the story. But it’s also the things that are left out, that are implied, the landscape just under the smooth (but sometimes broken and unsettled) surface of things.

V.S. Pritchett’s definition of a short story is ”something glimpsed from the corner of the eye, in passing.” Notice the ”glimpse” part of this. First the glimpse. Then the glimpse given life, turned into something that illuminates the moment and may, if we’re lucky -that word again – have even further-ranging consequences and meaning. The short story writer’s task is to invest the glimpse with all that is in his power. He’ll bring his intelligence and literary skill to bear (his talent), his sense of proportion and sense of the fitness of things; of how things out there really are and how he sees those things – like no one else sees them. And this is done through the use of clear and specific language, language used so as to bring to life the details that will light up the story for the reader. For the details to be concrete and convey meaning, the language must be accurate and precisely given. The words can be so precise they may even sound flat, but they can still carry; if used right, they can hit all the notes.

35 Beautiful and Insightful Quotes about Short Stories (aerogrammestudio.com)

35 Beautiful and Insightful Quotes about Short Stories http://www.aerogrammestudio.com/2014/06/25/35-beautiful-and-insightful-quotes-about-short-stories/

Narrative Setting: How To Build A World(blog.karenwoodward.org)

Narrative Setting: How To Build A World

http://blog.karenwoodward.org/2014/01/narrative-setting-how-to-build-world.html?m=1

“You create a story world to express and manifest your characters, especially your hero.” John Truby, The Anatomy of Story
John Truby, in The Anatomy of Story, writes: “creating a unique world for the story–and organically connecting it to the characters–is as essential to great storytelling as character, plot, theme, and dialogue.”
When I read that passage I knew I couldn’t close out my series on narrative setting without talking about how Truby constructs a story world, a narrative setting, one designed specifically for his characters. Truby talks the reader through how to create a story world that characters not only ‘hook’ into, but which complements the hero’s journey and gives it meaning.
Truby writes (and this is something he emphasizes all through “The Anatomy of Story”): just as the interrelations between the characters–especially the protagonist–give meaning to the whole, so it is for settings.
Truby writes:
“… in good stories, the characters come first, and the writer designs the world to be an infinitely detailed manifestation of those characters.”
“The process of translating the story line into a physical story world, which then elicits certain emotions in the audience, is a difficult one. That’s because you are really speaking two languages—one of words, the other of images—and matching them exactly over the course of the story.”
Here is John Truby’s advice for creating a story world rich in meaning:
1. Create The Story Space
1a. Use the story’s designing principle to draw the boundaries of your story world.
Begin with the story’s designing principle “since this is what holds everything together.” The designing principle will tell you where to draw the boundaries, what shape the world should be, what kind of world it should be.
1b. Divide the story world into visual oppositions.
Divide the story world we delineated in step one into “visual oppositions” based on how your characters oppose one another.
2. Three types of setting.
Truby advises us to “detail the world using … natural settings, artificial spaces, and technology.”
3. Connect the story world to the hero’s overall development.
When I read this part of Truby’s book I knew I had to share this information on my blog. This point is really why I’m doing this post, we’re going through steps 1 and 2 because they’re prerequisites to get here.
SO. Let’s take this one step at a time.

1. Creating The Story Space

1a. Use the story’s designing principle to find the boundaries of your story world. 

First, let’s quickly discuss the designing principle. This is one of the core concepts of Truby’s “The Anatomy of Story” so I’m not going to be able to do it justice here.
Truby writes:
“The designing principle is what organizes the story as a whole. It is the internal logic of the story, what makes the parts hang together organically so that the story becomes greater than the sum of its parts.”
Think of the designing principle as the seed, the idea seed, the nucleus, that a story grows from. Here’s one of Truby’s examples:
Tootsie:
Designing principle: “Force a male chauvinist to live as a woman.”
(Note: Truby also talks about the premise but I’m not going to cover this concept here.)

Finding the boundaries.

What we want to do is develop a one line description of our setting, something that will tie it into the designing principle of our story.
Here’s an example from the movie, “Four Weddings and a Funeral”:
Designing principle: “A group of friends experiences four Utopias (weddings) and a moment in hell (funeral) as they all look for their right partner in marriage.”
Story World: “The Utopian world and rituals of weddings.”
John Truby gives many more examples in his book, and I should mention that I’m leaving out an enormous amount of material–the story premise, theme line, and so on.
Anyway, after you write down the designing principle you’re equipped to delineate the extent of the story world, to clearly establish its physical boundaries.
Truby writes that the story “arena is the basic space of drama. It is a single, unified place surrounded by some kind of wall. Everything inside the arena is part of the story. Everything outside the arena is not.”
Truby goes on to say there are four main ways of creating a story arena that possess enough “variety of place and action” to sustain the events of any story.

i. The Spotted Umbrella

Think of a medieval town surrounded by thick walls. Many inhabitants of the town could have a general overall knowledge of the town and how it’s laid out, its various areas, and so on, though a particular individual might spend most of their time in only a few of its many environs.
For example, when I watched the movie “Aliens” I had a general sense of the planet but Ripley only travelled to a few places on its surface. In terms of my analogy, those are the spots within the umbrella.

ii. The Straight Line

This is the basic layout of a journey story.
One of the challenges of writing a cohesive journey story is making all the different areas seem connected.
What one usually doesn’t want is for the reader to feel as though each location is a different story. You want them to feel it’s all part of one unified tale.
One way to create “the sense of a single area” is for the terrain the hero travels through to remain fundamentally the same.
For instance, a hero might travel to several different villages located along the same river. Or the hero might travel to several locations in the same desert or country.
Truby gives the movie “Titanic” as an example of a story where the hero travels in a straight line.

iii. The Circle

This approach has much in common with the previous one, with the exception that, at the end, the hero returns home. Truby’s example: “The Wizard of Oz.”

iv. Fish Out Of Water

The fish out of water story generally utilizes two different worlds.
In one world, the first, the hero is seen to have certain talents (or weaknesses). Then the hero is unceremoniously tossed into a second world–one where the rules are markedly different–and those same talents (or weaknesses) are shown.
Often, whatever the hero did well in one world he will be completely incompetent at in the other.
Of course, the two worlds aren’t necessarily different physical places. Something could happen to so completely alter the social environment of the hero that the change is just as profound as a change of place. For instance, the hero’s five older siblings die in a tragic accident and so he goes from completely ignored to being continually doted on.
Truby’s examples: “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Crocodile Dundee.”
Note: Truby writes: “What holds them [the separate locations] together is that the hero uses the same talents in both places …”
Truby’s tip: Don’t stay too long in the first area. Truby doesn’t like talking about acts, but I’d say, in a three act story, be sure to take the hero into the second world–the special world of the adventure–at the beginning of the second act.

1b. Divide the story world into visual oppositions.

Ask yourself:
What are the oppositions between my characters?
What values do they hold?
How do your characters fight each other?
How do their values conflict?
As you ask and answer these questions think about how these oppositions could be symbolized or represented visually.
Truby advises writers to attempt to produce three or four critical, visual, oppositions.
Truby uses the example of “King Kong.” The opposition is, in part, between “Carl Denham, and the giant prehistoric beast, Kong. So the main opposition within the story world is the island of New York, the man-made and overly civilized but extremely harsh world where image-maker Denham is “king,” versus Skull Island, the extremely harsh state of nature where Kong, master of physical force, is king.”
Nice!

2. Three types of setting.

There are three main kinds of settings:
a. Natural settings
b. Man-made settings
c. Tools/Technology

a. Natural settings

i. The ocean.
An ocean has two parts: the surface and the deep, dark, depths.
The surface:
The surface of the ocean gives us a sense of contest, a sense of “a game of life and death played out on the grandest scale.”
The deep places:
- A weightless dream world.
- A terrifying graveyard.
In the deep places sea creatures reach up to grab those on the surface and drag them down to their death in the murky depths.
Also, when I think of the deep places of the ocean, it occurs to me that often bodies of water are used to symbolize the unconscious mind and the creatures/complexes it harbours.
ii. The forest.
The forest is a natural cathedral. “It is the place where contemplative people go and to which lovers sneak away.”
The forest is also where children get lost andwitches live. There may also be a ghost or two and we wouldn’t be surprised to see a hunter stalking his prey.
John Truby talks about many other kinds of natural settings: outer space, jungles, desert and ice, islands, mountains (the mountain vs the plain), plains, rivers, weather. But I’ll let you read about those in Truby’s excellent book.

b. Man-made settings

Truby writes that each man-made space “is a physical representation, in microcosm, of the hero and the society in which he lives.”
I’m only going to go over one of Truby’s examples: the house.

The house.

A house encloses a character and “shapes the growth of the person’s mind.”
Houses are intimate. They are spaces where your character can express himself without fear of ridicule.
Question: What might your hero reveal about himself in his house that he wouldn’t anywhere else?

The opposites.

Safety vs Adventure
Generally, we think of a house as a place of safety. It’s a place for you to relax and take refuge in, it’s a place for you to enjoy your friends and family.
No hostile forces are allowed in.
In this sense, a house is a place of safety.
BUT if the hero remains always in a safe place he will never grow, never achieve anything. He will stagnate. Truby writes that the trick is to use the house as “the strong foundation from which we go out and take on the world.”
“Often in stories, the first step of adventure, the longing for it, happens at the window. A character looks through the eyes of a house …” looks out at the far hills, at the mountaintop or even the jungle, and dreams of what might be, dreams of adventure.
Truby has many other examples, and he talks about various kinds of houses (the warm house, the terrifying house, the cellar versus the attic). Truly, if you have any questions about setting, developing the opposites, how to hook the characters in your story into the landscape/setting, chapter six of “The Anatomy of Story” is definitely worth the read.

3. Connect the story world to the hero’s overall development.

THIS–connecting, hooking, the story world (/setting) into the hero’s arc, his journey–is really what I’ve been wanting to talk about.
We’ve laid the foundation by formulating our story’s designing principle and drawing the boundaries of our world. We’ve divided this story world into visual oppositions and we’ve explored the various types of settings (natural, artificial, technology) and how these can help develop the hero’s journey.
But since this post is already twice as long as usual, I’ll save that for next time.

Good writing!

Photo credit: “almost may” by paul bica underCreative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Karen Woodward

 

Raymond Chandler’s Ten Commandments for Writing a Detective Novel(open culture.com)

Raymond Chandler’s Ten Commandments for Writing a Detective Novel

in Literature | February 25th, 2014

chandler10rules

http://www.openculture.com/2014/02/raymond-chandlers-ten-commandments-for-writing-a-detective-novel.html

Raymond Chandler – along with his hardboiled brethren likeDashiell Hammett and James M. Cain – sandblasted the detective novel of its decorousness and instilled it with a sweaty vitality. Chandler, through the eyes of his most famous character Philip Marlowe, navigated a thinly veiled Los Angeles through the desperation of those on the low end of society’s totem pole and through the greed and venality of those at the top. Instead of creating self-contained locked room mysteries, Chandler created stories that looked outward, struggling to make sense of a morally ambiguous world. He dedicated his career to the genre, influencing generations of writers after him. His very name became synonymous with his terse, pungent style.

So it isn’t terribly surprising that Chandler had some very strong opinions about crime fiction. Below are his ten commandmentsfor writing a detective novel:

1) It must be credibly motivated, both as to the original situation and the dénouement.

2) It must be technically sound as to the methods of murder and detection.

3) It must be realistic in character, setting and atmosphere. It must be about real people in a real world.

4) It must have a sound story value apart from the mystery element: i.e., the investigation itself must be an adventure worth reading.

5) It must have enough essential simplicity to be explained easily when the time comes.

6) It must baffle a reasonably intelligent reader.

7) The solution must seem inevitable once revealed.

8) It must not try to do everything at once. If it is a puzzle story operating in a rather cool, reasonable atmosphere, it cannot also be a violent adventure or a passionate romance.

9) It must punish the criminal in one way or another, not necessarily by operation of the law…. If the detective fails to resolve the consequences of the crime, the story is an unresolved chord and leaves irritation behind it.

10) It must be honest with the reader.

These commandments are oblique jabs at the locked room whodunits popular during theGolden Age of the detective novel during the 1920s and 30s. Chandler delivers a much more pointed criticism of these works in his seminal essay about crime fiction, The Simple Art of Murder.

After taking thoroughly apart the murder mystery The Red Houseby A. A. Milne (yes, the writer ofWinnie the Pooh), Chandler rails against detective stories where the machinations of plot outstrip any semblance of reality. “If the situation is false, you cannot even accept it as a light novel, for there is no story for the light novel to be about.”

He goes on to trash other British mystery writers like Agatha Christie and particularly Dorothy L. Sayers, who Chandler paints not only as a hypocritical snob but also as boring. “The English may not always be the best writers in the world, but they are incomparably the best dull writers,” he quips.

Chandler then offers praise to his hardboiled colleague Dashiell Hammett who infuses his stories with a sense of realism. “Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse; and with the means at hand, not with hand-wrought duelling pistols, curare, and tropical fish….He was spare, frugal, hardboiled, but he did over and over again what only the best writers can ever do at all. He wrote scenes that seemed never to have been written before.”

Whether conscious or not, this passage is a fair description of Chandler as well.