The social media age has long been upon us and people are excited for all the new content suddenly at their fingertips. Once upon a time you had to subscribe to a magazine and wait every month for a new issue to come out. But in today’s fast paced society you’re sent a stream of new information constantly that never stops. You’ve always got something new coming to you and you see more things now than you ever did before. Just one problem, all that content has slowly been disappearing from your Facebook feed.
When you stop to think about it, possibly under the influence of a drink, chemical, or hazy cloud of dust, you have to admit that stories are inexorably linked to questions. Folktales and mythology from ages long ago were crafted to answer questions of the natural world. The science fiction of the modern day answers the questions of our existence, the universe, and our future within it. Whether the answers that these stories present to us are correct is beside the point – the question is always there.
Journalism teaches that there’s five (sometimes six) questions to be asked for every story: who, what, when, where, and why. They say that if you have these five elements, you can fill all the requirements of the audience’s need to know and craft a good news story. Sometimes they may add “how”, but that is often only for situations where the “how” is fascinatingly complicated. Together, these questions also leave a lasting impact on fiction. After all, every story answers them even if you don’t intend to.
“In ancient Greece (when, where), Hercules (who), the demigod son of Zeus (what, who), is given twelve labors to complete (what) with his mighty strength (how) as a means of finding redemption for having murdered his family under the influence of Hera (why).”
These details are everywhere in story telling and the more of them you have, the better your story becomes. But, in fiction, one of them happens to be more important than the rest of them combined. This one question in the batch of six happens to give all of the others importance in a way that nothing else can. Without the most important question, none of the other details have any meaning. And that question is… Continue reading The Most Important Question in Character Development→
Despite modern advances, one could say that being a writer today is actually somewhat harder than it was in the past. It’s true that anyone can get published now due to the ease of self-publishing through eBooks. The indie market is thriving now more than it ever has in the history of literature. But at the same time the industry is dwindling, the market is saturating, and the money is flowing in other directions. This will change with time, but we’re in something of a pinch that never existed before and it does put you under some pressure to consider all angles as you write.
One of the new things to become an issue in the modern day is the idea that your work offending someone might, in turn, cause an angry horde to come kicking down your digital door. In the old days, if you pissed someone off you might have a fatwa declared against you like Salman Rushdie did. But Salman could just avoid going to countries where people were likely to carry that out. It worked for a lot of people who needed to avoid the people their work offended and, as I often like to point out, it worked out just fine for Rushdie.
But the internet brings everyone right to your doorstep. Maybe they can’t pose a serious threat to your life (though many may try to make you feel like they could), but they’re there and they never go away. Some people have had this hit them and rode it like a wave into success. Would we have seen the phenomenon of Harry Potter had fundamentalist Christians not lost their god damn minds over it? It’s hard to say. But what isn’t hard to say is that, before Harry Potter, most children’s book series were lucky to net their author 6 figures and Rowling has easily crossed 8.