Monday, June 2, 2008


I was recently told some good advice and then given some suggested examples to expand upon that advice.

Mort Castle told me: "[The] ending [to a short story] must be inevitable and unpredictable"

Now that may sound like common sense to some, may sound like total contradictory tripe to others which is why he followed it up with the examples to show what he meant.

"For models, Updike's A&P or Barker's IN THE HILLS, THE CITIES."

So I went out and brought Barkers Books of Blood and have now found Updike's A&P here. I'm looking forward to reading Barker because A&P didn't help clarify what Mort was talking about.

Wikipedia gives this explanation of the story which explains Mort's idea a little. It seems to me that the ending may not have been what the main character was fantasizing about but it was exactly what the reader expected, at least the sequence of observations and actions after the character quits. Him up and quitting was unexpected but I wouldn't say it made the story. I hope Mort's advice was centred more around the readers expectations, at least that's what I'm taking it as.

Back to Mort's suggested endings for short stories : "[The] ending [to a short story] must be inevitable and unpredictable"--so the main character quitting was unpredictable but everything else was inevitable and very much expected. In the end, I found the story to be pretty ho-hum and not something someone would tout as an example of what to do. I was disappointed. I'm hoping Barker is a better read. I've read some reviews of "IN THE HILLS, THE CITIES" and they weren't particularly inspiring.

In the end, I think this validates my thinking of recent times. Everyone's opinions differ on all aspects of writing. If you try to pander to others opinions then you'll never be true to yourself. You must write what you want to, how you want to. If it's not commercial, and doesn't sell, then does it really matter? If you're writing fiction because you want to make money, then you're writing for the wrong reasons.


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