Write small to tell a big story

Regardless of what inspires you to write or what causes a story idea to jump into your head, readers want to know you write with authority ─ that is to say, you are in control of language, structure, character, story development and all the elements that constitute the craft of fiction. Despite differences in style, tone or the story itself, which may or may not interest a particular reader, and for that reason he puts down the book, he’ll be able to tell quickly whether or not you’ve mastered craft. If you haven’t, you’ll lose him. You can do whatever you want in fiction as long as the reader believes it. Take prisoners. Capture the reader from the first paragraph, keep him in the story, and don’t release him until the end.

If you want to write a story the reader remembers because it taps into the universal, what’s important to our lives, think big but write small. Don’t start with theme. Said Karl Von Clausewitz, “War is the continuation of policy by other means.” Well, is it? Great theory, sounds good, clever, quoted all the time, but is it true? Throughout history warlike societies have prevailed over peaceful ones; at one point in the social development of Easter Island rival clans liked to fight and insulted each other by toppling each other’s statues; headhunters who ate their enemies wiped out grain-growers. So don’t look to theme to start your story. Let it emerge. You may not even know what the theme of your story is until you’ve written it.

Gulliver’s Travels was satire, but who remembers that? People recall flying islands and little people and giants and yahoos because this is what they wished for as children ─ the fantastical that transported them to magical worlds. Frankenstein was written to protest the age of reason and science but who other than scholars think much about that? It’s the monster who lives on. Get ready to open a door to new worlds.

Think big and write small

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