Reply To: Student: Joanna Kush Homework Thread

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Linnea Sinclair

I hope this is the right place for lesson 1.

Loved these articles!  I like looking at a good story as having these elements of curiosity and angst more so than getting hung up in grammatical rules and following strict recipes.  It’s so pedestrian but I’m so uncomfortable with conflict, even in my writing, that I just want to hurry up and get to the peaceful happy ending, but I see I’m shortchanging everyone by doing that.

Yes, dear heart, you are. The human body and brain aren’t wired for ribbons and rainbows. They’re wired for story, for trouble, for conflict, for–yes, it does finally get to that–satisfactory resolution.

Understand that the human brain is wired to use story as a survival tool. Around the desert campfires or by the jungle streams, humans sat and listened to “the one that got away.” If we are to survive as a species, we must learn and transmit that learning. You don’t learn to survive through ribbons and rainbows.

Now, here’s the kicker: if you don’t intend to publish commercial genre fiction, if you only want to privately journal rainbows and ribbons, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, nor with taking writing classes to learn how to better use structure and language. But if you want to publish and SELL commercial genre fiction, you must craft conflict. Not crafting conflict is like, well, saying I want to be a beach lifeguard but I don’t want to have to go into the water or swim. I just want to sit in the sun and listen to the sounds of the waves. (And to the sounds of the screams of drowning people… no, wait, forget I wrote that. I’m wired for conflict…) 😉

Commercial genre fiction is not Happy People in Happy Land. The story would die by the end of chapter one, if it even lasts that long. There’s no reason to keep turning the pages. There’s no reason the BRAIN will DEMAND you keep turning the pages.

If you have to–and I know many writers who do this–write the last chapter first. The conflict is solved, the lovers kiss, the birds chirp merrily. Then go back and keep the trouble coming, because you already know it’s all going to end up okay.


//Interstellar Adventure Infused with Romance//


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