Writing Rule #2

#2.  Do not try and do too much in your short story.  Ever.  An author who knows what she/he is doing can make a stunning story out of the most simple of ideas, plot points, or narrative.  It is a much, much, much harder task to hit the same highs if the story is too complex.  Short stories are far too often cluttered with too much of this. 

 Boy pursues magic horse and succeeds, bringing honor to his family, can be a beautiful tale.  Boy who’s father was killed by the cheiftain that subsequently stole his mother, prompting the boy to find the soothsayer to learn how to weave the rope of command to catch the horse he’d heard about in a myth (insert gratituios flashback scene here) to return to the village and smite the usurper and retrieve his mother, thus bringing honor back to his family is A GREAT DEAL HARDER FOR YOU TO MAKE ME CARE ABOUT.

As always, though, if you make complex plots work, then they must not be too complex, right?


3 responses to “Writing Rule #2

  • Jason Fischer

    [hangs head]


    Archetypical Fisch story:
    “Hey, there’s this cool setting! LOOK AT MY COOL SETTING. And there’s ALL this crazy shit going on, and DID YOU LOOK AT MY SETTING and there’s some misunderstood genius guy (who drops the occasional dry one-liner aka godawful pun) and something has THREATENED THE SETTING but some character-types stop this, some of them have awesome sex, there’s gore for gore’s sake and then they stand around laughing like at the end of Scooby Doo.”

    “Oh and there’s zombies in it.”

  • Peter M Ball

    And now I want to go and write the example of a complex and unweildy story.

  • christophergreen

    Jason, I’d say that was the old you, not the new, disciplined, you…

    Peter, go nuts, although I’d say if you wrote it, and the story worked, then the plot wasn’t too complex and/or too unwieldy. See, you’d do it right, and thus it wouldn’t be “too” much of anything, except the sauce of awesome.

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