Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Bear in a Bar

One very minor drawback to my writers group was that the others were writing literary fiction and I was writing commercial fiction. "So what," you say, "good writing is good writing, yes?" Yeeeeess, but... I like to explain the difference this way: Imagine you're writing a joke book. You go to a meeting of my writers group, and say, "Here's my first joke. A bear went into a bar and said to the bartender---" You'd get that far before a barrage of questions came at you. "What kind of a bear is it?" "How old is the bear?" "Is the bear married?" "Does the bear regularly come into this bar?" "Are the bear and the bartender friends?" "Is the bear an alcoholic?" "You need a lot more back story before you go much farther." To the joke reader, "A bear went into a bar..." is all the back story you need. To a mystery writer, moving things along is frequently more important than back story. (You no doubt notice that I use the past tense quite a bit. That's because I'm going back to the beginning of when I started writing. Eventually I'll catch up and we'll be in the present.)

No comments:

Post a Comment