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A short entry, but it gets to the heart of things. And the first paragraph is a pep-talk, too.

Also -- I am slowly making good the inter-linking between entries to fulfill in LiveJournal form the usability of the book's structure. I hope to make them all current today, by the weekend at least.


*

The following is an excerpt from Part III of the book Making Shapely Fiction, by Jerome Stern. The first two parts are very much worth reading as well. The book is available in paperback.



Trust Your Material

You are interesting. Your experiences, your imagination, your perceptions, your emotions are interesting. What is closest to you is valuable for your art. Believe that. Your honesty and your talent are inseparable. Don't falsify by conventionalizing. Your uniqueness lies not in fulfilling cultural stereotypes but in expressing what you really uncover, like it or not.

Here are some of the problems writers get into if they don't trust their material.

They rush. They don't believe that a detailed description of a woman frying corn fritters can be wonderful. So they just say it -- they don't create the experience. Don't keep yourself from describing what you want for fear of boring your readers. If it was fascination to you, it can fascinate them.

Some writers falsify their material. They think readers expect a certain version of reality, and though they have experienced it in a more complex way, they try to supply what they think they should. So, even though they have complicated, mixed feelings about the grandfather, they leave out the rude and the crude and give a censored version.

Or they go for sensationalism. Since they don't fully believe that the characters and their lives are intrinsically interesting, they put in something contrived or melodramatic.

See "Write What You Know."

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