How to Write a Traditional Story

An excerpt from Writing as Experimental Practice by Thalia Field where she tells us (tongue in cheek methinks) how to write a traditional story:
“Confronting the blank page in a traditional practice is just as challenging as for the experimentalist, and yet I think the traditional writer fills in the blank page as though it were a pre-formatted space awaiting content. A sentence makes sense. A character emerges in a situation. A concrete detail, a situation to describe (‘the objective correlative’). Pretty soon, one finds oneself in a conventional fiction or poem, a single human protagonist described in adjectival prose, ‘lifelike’ against a scenic (cinematic) backdrop. The frame of the camera’s view provides the scale and time of the action, an antagonist will be there, a tragic flaw. The conflict will take the hero into some revelations, the resolution will provide a catharsis from the event. Language is only that which delivers this content in a clear and descriptive way from author to reader with a minimum of confusion. There is a tidiness to the symbolism, the events, and no messy confusion for a reader to grapple with. Language does not intrude upon the telling, but stays grammatical and ‘transparent’ to the intention of the author. Formally there are paragraphs or line breaks and type left-justified between wide margins. There is dialogue and there is plenty of visual and psychological description. Characters, plots, language remain stable and constant throughout the piece. You need to dream up the specifics, which constitutes the main writing practice. Perhaps you brainstorm on the blank page, troll for details and clues as you ‘discover’ the piece, even your ‘voice’ (your style within the larger constraints of this overall style) and probably your characters, conflicts or themes. This describes the sort of psychological naturalism prevalent in our time.”
Many a true word is spoken in jest.

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