The Screenplay-novel Manifestos

Less is more vivid

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Patrician Visits the Communards

And so now the individual settles down in front of us -- the big man/woman him/herself, the high-brow-yet-high-circulation magazine editor, the Important Publishing World Individual.

And so what does this person say? Well, before we even are able to mentally process the content of their speech, we are already noticing its tone ... its blase yet sophisticated sonorousness. Yes! This is a person with intelligence! This is a person who knows how to reduce a complex idea to its essentials!... This is someone top-drawer!!

"Well, [ahem], although it is true that literary writing has a long and noble history, the fact is that it is only one form of narrative. And what we are finding these days is that people are turning from that particular form of narrative. They want stories that are true. And so we are publishing more non-fiction. The simple reality is that non-fiction these days has so many of the same characteristics that literary fiction used to monopolize: a strong narrative; interesting central characters; deep and moral themes...."

And then, finished speaking, the Important Publishing World Individual stands, excuses him or herself with a rustle of suit or skirt, and is gone. And we are left to try and make sense of the blow that has been quietly delivered. For isn't the IPWI correct?! Isn't it a fact that non-fiction has trumped fiction's own game? Isn't its narrative superior? Let's be frank -- what do we turn to when we open the
high-brow-yet-high-circulation magazine? How many novels these days do we buy?.... How many do we finish? All we can do is rub our stomachs (for the blow was that swiftly delivered) and concede defeat........

But late at night, tossing in bed, we suddenly sit up! No!! It was not a final argument, nor even a particularly perceptive one! The fictional narrative is not dead! It's not trumped by non-fiction! It's not even fiction itself half the time!!!!! Yes!!!! The IPWI was duping us! Good fiction is -- well, it's non-fiction of a sort! That has all so often been its strength!

Fiction Writers of the World, you still write! Do not let the seductive-yet-slippery
arguments of the lit-geousie enchain you! Re-claim the means of narrative production!!!!!!!!