The Boring/Interesting Binary

(Lake Whatcom by Liz)

Didn’t post this last week while on vacation on the lake above.

Up at Necessary Fiction is my contribution to Matt Salesses’ ongoing Revision Month. Within Matt’s broader post, I take a look at a couple of before-and-after FUN CAMP shorts and compare revision to disease.

In his portion, Matt also links over to an interview with Alexander Chee in which Chee puts it this way:

It’s more like teaching people to stay close to their excitement. The thing that I see so many people do with their books is they break it up into all these nutty little pieces where they’re talking to me about character development and backstory. All these phrases that were really just meant to describe something have suddenly become orthodoxies. And they’ve lost their sense of the unity of the thing. They keep asking me, “How do I develop my character?” And I say, “Tell the story?” I feel too many people are working from the wrong end of the stick. They’ve got something very abstract they’re trying to make specific and exciting, and they’re doing it in this Frankenstein’s monster sort of way. So it’s like, “Here’s my backstory sewn onto my character development sewn onto my climax, and now I add the ending and apply electricity!” It’s just a horrible way to live, and I think you’re much better off finding the character and the situation together, looking for situations that you think are really interesting.

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