Friday, August 24, 2007

Bucking Against Those Better Than Myself

I would like to respond to Joe's "Narrative Ethic," both parts I and II, as referenced by my respected colleague Tiff in the last post.

70% of it is sound advice. Neophytes should adhere to it and learn.

10% of it is nothing more than a caution.

10% of it is a purist's viewpoint of classical storytelling, which continually evolves. Valid points all, but I doubt Aristotle would enjoy Bradbury.

5% pisses off every capable writer who ever put pen to paper.

5% is his opinion that plot is overrated.

This last 5% is my sticking point. Plot is THE thing upon which everything else is attached. Without plot, theme has no meaning, characters wallow in centrism, and the author's vision has no voice. Plot may be secondary to a thousand other expressions, but it is the device used to display conflict, or the lack of it.

CHARACTER drives us to read further; PLOT allows character to hang his wardrobe on a peg. Otherwise, it is poetry. Poetry is laudible and the penultimate expression of human thought, but it is not storytelling. Poetry is rare and precious because so few of us can do it justice. Plot is necesssary for the fictional narrative voice.

Who am I to dispute Aristotle? Nobody but another in a long line of thinkers who acknowldege his greatness, but also question it.

Joe is right. And wrong. I have a feeling he would agree with me. Like I have said before, learn your ABC's before you break the rules. However, I get the feeling Joe and Aristotle don't believe in breaking those rules. I believe in breaking rules, as long as you have learned how to abide by those rules in the first place. Otherwise my argument is for naught.

Acknowledge the wisdom of others and the passion of your own art. Then question both.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Quick link

Might help y'all think about your stories. I know it's jump-starting my capacity for clear(er) writing:

Aristotle's Narrative Ethic and why you really SHOULD care.

Thanks Joe!

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Milk Wagons of August

Whenever I'm stumped for ideas, my wife and I play a game. She has ten minutes to come up with a topic, and I have 48 hours to write a short story about it. It's fun for both of us, and it really helps with creativity and writers block.

This month, I was stumped for a picture for the August Wordsmiths challenge, so I asked my wife for a story idea. Without hesitation she said "a milk wagon." How she pulled that one out of the air, I don't know.

A Google image search for "milk wagon" turned up this gem. There's enough story fodder in there for a hundred tales. Have at it folks.

Stories are due by August 31 as a link posted in the comments section.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

July: Weather is Hot but Imagination is Hotter

Wholly Carp!

This month's response is exactly the reason we started this in the first place. What a crop of stories! Applaud yourselves, then use those hands to visit your fellow Wordsmiths and effuse over their bravery and magnificence, then tell 'em what they did wrong. For my part, I use my hands to shake yours and clap your shoulders.

In Untitled (shame on you!), Biff isn't in his right, or left, mind.

In The Array, Bobo cannot make head nor tail of it.

In Charlie, The King remembers and wishes.

In Score Bored, Kingfisher searches for the culprit.

In The Message, No Celery gets it, but isn't telling.

In Contradictions, Shari is going to make a fortune.

In Hours Devours, Skully goes all confusing creepy.

In Playing God, Tiff tries to fix a game of croquet.

In Shutting Down, Ursus sees a love story from the inside.

In the words of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon: "Thank you! Come again!"