How to write fiction

How to write fiction creating 4 chasms between what’s wished for and the results

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Lucky Live (Lucas actually) decides to change and become a sensible sensitive man. He changes his bike for a bicycle so old it even has a grid to help ladies from getting their skirts stuck in the wheels. His hair is now long enough for a pony tail and he wears a second hand overall and stripped socks. Just the first day at school, Miss Piltz requests for a form to be signed by the parents. Lucky in his eagerness to be as transparent as possible…. Fills it himself under the teacher’s sight. His parents have given him and his best friend Ariadne (whom tells the story) some of these forms already signed as checks in blank; given that the two of them have proven to be sensible. Up to now. Lucas commits the treason of showing off this trust. Miss Piltz misunderstands it as forgery. Lucas is sent to the Principal’s. 

To Robert McKee in “The script. Story”; there is always a chasm between the consequences of the actions of the actors (results) and what they expect to obtain from those (the intentions). According to him, you can get this chasm by continuously changing POV or perspectives in a way that every character’s reactions or perspective end up being more authentic and original due to the need to face each character’s fate. Once characters are contrasted against someone else’s reality; they will fail to obtain what they intend since the other character will always misunderstand and react accordingly. This creates chaos. And more abysms between the character’s intentions and the results open about their feet.

This is the first abysm of fiction. The chasm between what the character does to obtain what they wish for and what they really get (very oftenly things go awry).

Chuck Wendig recommends to “block” this path between the character and their wish, in a way that it is practically impossible for the character to obtain what he wishes for. Our “ant” character must encounter as much resistance as possible without the wish becoming totally impossible.

It has to be almost impossible to obtain but only ALMOST. If the probabilities of getting the character’s wishes fulfilled are zero, our audience, will chose to abandon our alternate universe. In agreement, McKee explains that if the chances to get the wish fulfilled are null from the beginning, the audience will abandon the projection room without a second chance. 

TO GET IT REQUIRES EXAGGERATING. Second chasm of fiction.

Maybe I’m being too dramatic by calling it a chasm. Perhaps a crack. The point is that something shaped as a peculiar letter from a magic school instead of the usual invoice for your uncle arrives to the mail box… or it arrives directly into your hands. Sometimes some nightmare eaters decide that therapy isn’t for you, since they crave your nightmare for themselves. You must turn the ordinary into extraordinary. And still give room to the character to breath. They have to react properly. To just add and add happenings won’t create the third chasm. And the fourth divides good stories from master pieces.

In my opinion (and some others too); these two are not the only abysms. In whatever alternate universe or reality of fiction we can look calmly, sometimes with delight, at some character dying. Maybe we will feel irated or a little sad but… We aren’t in need of years of grieving to get over the fact of such death.

We will watch characters facing villains Kalashnikov in hand to defend democracy, free will and/or their best friend. This is the fun side of it.

The chasm between our favourite sofá and the stress of wearing the character’s shoes.

To jump from a moving train in the middle of a bridge when, at the same time, we move no muscle. We are happy and safe at home. I’m sure you have jumped off a swing in movement (no, not me, I’m a coward) and you felt exhilarated and adrenaline pumping. Would you jump off the train?

Would you get out from your house, Wi-Fi supplied to get yourself into a bombing episode without a single bar in your smartphone? Would you drop your coffee mug to get yourself immersed in human disposal to greet your hero? Would you happily hire a music band to declare your love to your crush? I don’t know why, but this last one seems traumatic enough to add a layer of eccentricity given the odds of getting some “no thank you”.

I remember an advertisement I watched in Sky which summarizes the idea perfectly. I don’t recall it verbatim and I didn’t have the wit to jot it down and we don’t have Sky here so I won’t quote. It was something alike:

<<Do you wish for the excitement of fighting terrorists, assassin cruel villains and play with exotic weaponry at the comfort of your home? Watch these movies…>>

Live and joy from the gut twist that fiction can get for you without risking your own skin in the front lines. Simple.

The last chasm is the most difficult of them all. It is the abysm between what the reader wishes for/anticipates through the reading and what actually happens.

Our experience (reader) against what the writer can do to enrich such experience with something different to a cliché.

Has it happened to you? To watch Jurassic park and know, with certainty, that Blue will end up fighting the experimental dino. And before it even happens, you already know what is coming next.

This a phenomenon linked to the happenings logic. An experienced reader (or film gourmet) knows where and when to anticipate what; just because they have watched or read their share. If they are not a writer themselves is only because they haven’t started to write anything. CAN YOU GIVE THEM WHAT THEY EXPECT WITHOUT GIVING IT AS THEY EXPECT IT?

How would you create these abysms? No, don’t like it. Don’t subscribe. This blog is pure nonsense.

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