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Things A Scene Needs
Each character in a scene needs a goal. Obviously the main character’s goal is the most important, but every character should be aiming for something, and those goals should be acted on and in doing so affect one another.
This doesn’t just refer to the protagonist/antagonist relationship, it should be true of all characters in a scene.
“We would be worse than we are without the good books we have read, more conformist, not as restless, more submissive, and the critical spirit, the engine of progress, would not even exist. Like writing, reading is a protest against the insufficiencies of life. When we look in fiction for what is missing in life, we are saying, with no need to say it or even to know it, that life as it is does not satisfy our thirst for the absolute – the foundation of the human condition – and should be better. We invent fictions in order to live somehow the many lives we would like to lead when we barely have one at our disposal.”—Mario Vargas Llosa
“I feel that the characters in the story already exist in a limbo outside my control, and what I’m doing over the months of gestation is getting in touch with them and learning about them.” ”—P. D. James
“I want to read only what I’ll want to reread—the definition of a book worth reading once.” ”—Susan Sontag
“We are all our own graveyards, I believe; we squat amongst the tombs of the people we were. If we're healthy, every day is a celebration, a Day of the Dead, in which we give thanks for the lives that we lived, and if we are neurotic we brood and mourn and wish that the past was still present.”—Clive Barker
“A lot of people proclaim a need for independence, for space. And while I could attest to that, more than anything, I was a tiger dying amongst the sprawling jungle. I longed for a cage of my own. My apartment, a two bedroom overlooking the gentrification of Philadelphia, had a décor of my design. I picked out the furniture, including the Ikea futon I dubbed “death trap,” and gave every trinket and knick-knack their designated spots: high school diploma and Bachelor’s degree over my black computer desk, novelty shot-glasses along the top of my bookcase and various Buddha figurines, from flea markets in South Jersey, on my dresser and nightstands. And of course, my vinyl collection, a two hundred piece of my heart that took me to the dustiest, most allergenic music stores on the East Coast.”—Longform Fiction is featuring my short story (and first ever publication) “Saturn Return,” originally published in 2008 by Up The Staircase.
bless me father, for i have sinned.
i can’t even remember when my last confession was. i think i was with jess. she used to make me go to church with her… every sunday. Pastor Warren. Said I was his favorite boy that Jess had ever brought with her.
I’m not confessing that murder is my greatest sin. You can scrape the souls of the murdered off of someone. they stick with you. those you’ve lost still linger. they latch on because you’re the only thing they have left to latch on to.
in my whole life, there was… one thing. just one, that i knew was my job. dean had “watch out for sammy.” it was always watch out for sammy and make sure sammy eats his dinner and don’t forget to help sam with his homework even though you have homework of your own, even though you’re ten, dean, and you have your own life, sammy comes first.
no, my job was to make dean proud. to make dean happy. to make things as easy for dean as possible.
i got killed because i couldn’t kill someone, and then a year later watched dean die for me. i couldn’t even listen and stay away from the demon blood, no. it was all to get dean back because i loved him so much. i do love him. i love him so much that it gets me killed, i love him so much that it makes me crazy.
my greatest sin isn’t murder or fucking a demon or drinking or cursing.
bless me father, for my greatest sin is letting down the only person in my entire life that i’ve ever loved.
“I will tell you something in that area, if you like a theory, which I may have come up with after I wrote the book—I’m not sure. It is the notion that the reader is brought in almost as a collaborator in creating the picture that emerges of the characters, of the situation, of what they look like—everything. So this authorial absence, which everyone from Flaubert to Barthes talks about, is the sense that the book is a collaboration between the reader and what is on the pages.”—William Gaddis
For years he traveled to an almond tree, standing lonely upon a hill. He brought with him a basket and packed his lunch in a rusted cookie tin. He listened to the sound of his bare feet padding lightly against the earth, the pleasant tapping of his walking stick. He was an older man, living alone in a small house near the sea. Soon many people came and built houses and stores around his tree. They had families and hosted parties in their living rooms with champagne and crystal glasses. Their children fell in love with their neighbors’ children, who then, together, had more children and hosted other parties for birthdays and holidays, swapping presents, shaking hands. And there, in the center of their town, the almond tree wept. The man had forgotten his walking stalk. He tossed the cookie tin away and somehow found a family of his own to be lonely with.