08 May 2005
Westerns & Romances
A classic formula for writing fiction (adapted from my former writing teacher, Algis Budrys): Create a sympathetic character. Give her or him a problem. Have them attempt to solve the problem repeatedly, failing each time and making their problem worse until their situation seems impossible. On the final attempt, she or he finally solves the problem. This is a ritual, isn't it? I didn't notice this fact for a long time, but story formulas are rituals. That's why they are so popular. Rituals give a feeling of power. They are tradition and belonging, all wrapped up in a potent package.