With National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) almost upon us, our thoughts turn to fiction writing. What’s the mark of a good writer? What characterizes a good novel or short story?
For decades, good writing has been thought to consist of a sequence of well-written sentences. This has been the doctrine pushed by writing programs and by all those on the “literary” end of the writing and publishing spectrum. The result has been bombardments of thick texts of grandiose lyrical sentences, pages upon pages of them, displays of endless virtuosity like a prog rock lead guitarist given a ten-minute guitar solo going nowhere, as a means of showing off, then he forgets to end it regardless and continues on and on until even the most indulgent listener has vanished.
What if the experts are wrong?
What if the key to writing great fiction is simply telling an amazing, wonderful, human, magical story?
Today we present an argument for the latter idea, with one of the best stories we’ve ever featured, “Tales Along Turtle Heart Road” by Zach Smith. A simple and unassuming narrative that will sneak up on you. Read it and see what we’re talking about.
Harry stopped under the bridge. There was police tape but no other sign of the event. He had no intention of duplicating the actions; he just wanted to see it. No, that wasn’t quite right; he didn’t want to see it, he needed to. He didn’t know why he started climbing up the hill toward the trestle bridge, and he didn’t know how far he would have gotten, but when he turned around, high on the steep overgrown hill, he looked down at his car and saw something familiar in the road.