Friday, October 15, 2010

Forget About the Stickers!

I love analogies.  Surprising, huh?  Especially since this blog is just one big analogy.  But as I've learned, writing a story takes more than simply stringing together a long list of witty analogies like popcorn garland.  (Yes, pun intended).

As a beginner in any endeavor, we will make fundamental mistakes.  We tend to focus on the wrong things.  I remember when I got my first Rubik's Cube.  I was so excited when I was able to solve a colored side.  On a few very rare occasions, I was even able to get two sides, usually opposites.  But I could never get the whole thing without cheating.

I wouldn't understand until years later that my whole approach was flawed.  To solve the Cube, it's a mistake to focus on just the stickers for the side you're solving.  In fact, every sticker is connected to other stickers.  Once you know that the sticker you want to move has other stickers also belonging to the same little cubie, like Siamese siblings, finding a solution becomes much easier.

When I write, I try to Forget About the Stickers.  It's a mistake to simply focus on the prose.  That would be fine for poetry, but readers of fiction don't always appreciate the literary quality of a piece of fiction.  They want a story.  And the words are connected to other things in the story, just like the stickers on the Cube.  If those other things, like character, conflict, theme, are not there then the story will be fundamentally flawed.

It's fine to have analogies in a story, but they should be chosen carefully.  I know how proud I feel when I come up with a great analogy, but if it doesn't fit with the other elements of the story, then maybe it's not so great after least for that particular story.

So, forget about the stickers, look at all of the connections.  This will help you to chose which stickers you want to work with and which ones simply come along for a ride.


  1. same here, I was already very happy to solve one side of the cube before.

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