28 October 2014

Spinrad on story

In preparation for the production meeting I've been pondering what makes a good story. The first and foremost element to a good story is story.
Norman Spinrad wrote some interesting remarks on this in 2011:

Talented writers who misunderstand science fiction have often fallen into ...[a] trap, supposing that writing in the SF mode allows you to invent whatever literary world suits your purpose without regard to suspension of disbelief or scientific knowledge, and sometimes it even works.

But you do have to have a purpose, a theme, a didactic ax to grind, a revelation to convey—something, anything, that pulls together your series of events, uniting character evolution with dramatic structure and with philosophical vector to reach a satisfying conclusion for the reader, an epiphany, if you’re really on your game, even a satori.

There is a technical term for this.

It’s called a story.

... Stories arise somewhere below the intellectual surface of consciousness—the subconscious, the collective unconscious, the dreamtime, the zeitgeist—and you know when one arises from the vasty deeps because it grabs you with the grappling iron of emotion, and will do the same for the reader if you’re up to the task of conveying it. Stories call you. There’s no guarantee they’ll come when you call...

Good luck getting your stories to come when called!

Next week I'll report what happens at the production meeting for the November 2014 issue.

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