by Your Name Goes Here (Colin Bay)
Opening sentence, beginning in media res, preferably with a smallish use of originality of phrasing or, more preferably yet, with the sly introduction of a character not normally seen in the average life; or best of all, a normal situation alluded to in terms that show some very quirky assumptions about human life. Especially if it draws the reader in, which is important.
Continued narrative musings irk the voice established in the opening paragraph, remembering that quirkiness is key. Some sneaky hints, although included with absolute philosophical honesty, showing that this is the world of the common man, though a thinking common man, because you can’t pull anything else over on today’s sophisticated audiences.
Details. Lots of details—not obvious symbols, however, just a muted suggestion of indeterminate possibilities to allow for a healthy variety of critical reviews. Not description, either: people passing by, maybe, the odd idiosyncratic observation suggestive of profound existential angst which can’t quite find its way into words because that would be embarrassingly old-fashioned, declasse. Short sentences. Real short. Mood’s easier then.
Now, it’s time: in the next paragraph, a blast of language, a fantastic (brief) amalgamation of word and tone probing the immense possibilities of language which, without calling attention to itself, robs your life of meaning. A blast of language. An aesthete would lie there on the ground with a nosebleed from the sheer headrush of it, the whole generated subject of, the very-of-ness of the thing, the very thingness of the, like the world had swallowed a sort of . . . do you know what I’m saying? Short blast of language, though.
More plot, without trying to make it bear too much weight, since the message really needs to be in the mood, in the ambience of utter malaise livened with a sense of curiosity about how people go on living in a universe like this (i.e., the one we write about). Quirky plot, though, real quirky: the worst possible thing is to let them guess what happens next, or which character feels cosmic emptiness next.
Another five or six hundred words. Carefully chosen words, words pregnant with ambiguity and that kind of thing, but not flashy. Flash is early twentieth, Forster, Lawrence, Hemingway, so embarrassing for people like us. Two words here: self-consciousness. Shudder. More plot until where some poor schlemiel like Joyce would find an epiphany; then a withdrawl, storius interruptus.
An ending. Something that feels like an ending just so people don’t keep turning pages, but no plot resolution, no solving of puzzles; a cheerful commitment to future change by a character is right out. Dialogue, maybe—all lines of dialogue sound like endings. And if you introduce it with an adverb, I swear the Minimalist Twins will come to you in the night and end everything.