advice to self, 1980s
Start with images, not ideas. Themes, not concepts. Having an idea isn’t having something to write about: having something to write about is having something to write about. People & settings aren’t something to flesh out a story; a story is something you use to flesh out people & settings. Never favour plot. Story & narrative can be ok, but plot is like chemical farming. Closure is wrong. It is toxic. Work into a genre if you like, but from as far outside it as possible. Read as much about Hollywood formalism as you can bear, so you know what not to do. Break the structures–don’t look for new & sly twists on them. Never do clever tricks with reader expectation. Instead be honest, open and direct in your intention not to deliver the things they expect. You won’t always be successful in that, because it’s harder than it looks—after all, you used to be a reader too. Oh, & that’s the last thing. You aren’t a reader any more. You’re a writer, so don’t try to get reader kicks from the act of writing. Never tell yourself a story. That romantic relationship is over for you. From now on the satisfactions will be elsewhere.
Wow. Great stuff.
If everyone wrote like you, I might find it infuriating, but I’m very glad that you write like you.
Hi Paul_C. The weight of evidence is that even if this was any more than a pep talk delivered by me to me forty years ago, uptake of the advice would be low. That’s the meaning of the term “main stream”. But I’m glad you enjoy the product of my conversation with myself back then.
And re read Stephen King.