10 Sep Writing Fiction
Let’s talk about writing fiction, namely where a story starts and ends. Where does a story start, and how does that start lead to the inevitable ending? But we’re not looking at form, per se, but at an author’s vision. Where do ideas come from? John Irving claims that he starts writing once he knows what the last sentence of the work will be, and then he crafts the story backwards, finding his beginning and then pushing forward. He claims that that last line has never changed in all of his years as a writer. Other writers of fiction like George Saunders want to be surprised by their work. Saunders writes, trying to keep himself in suspense of his own story, allowing himself to be surprised at the different turns the story takes, allowing the story to evolve for him naturally, completely uncontrolled.
So knowing that two great writers of fiction go about the process of crafting a story in a completely different way, where does that leave the rest of us? Do we choose one method over the other and stick to it? Hopefully what the answer will be is that as a writer you will experiment with method, until you find something that works best for you. Not everyone works the same, and to be fair, not everyone even knows what their system would be; they just sit at a desk and it happens. In my opinion that’s the best kind of writer, the one who doesn’t give in to the mysteriousness of other writers, and just sits down to write.
A story begins where you choose for it to, and a story ends at a point where you choose for it to as well. That’s the benefit of being a writer: you get to make each and every creative decision, you get to walk on water while at the same time worry that you’re sinking your ship. It’s a process. A story begins and ends with you. How you craft a story of fiction, know that the work wouldn’t exist without you. It can’t exist without your vision, and most importantly without the actions of your fingers on your keyboard to guide your vision to completion.