Talk is Cheap—For Great Fiction Drive the Demons to the Surface

Kristen Lamb's Blog

On Monday, we talked about a major way writers can ramp up the tension in their novels. How do we do this? We externalize (or, in Corbett’s words “exteriorize”). Stuff in a character’s head has no outward consequences, thus making it impossible to generate dramatic tension.

The Road—Talk is Cheap

Many writers try to skirt externalization, because they “say” they want to write “literary works.” Yet, even in literary fiction, externalization is critical. Why?

Because 99 times out of a 100, when someone tells me their writing is “literary” this is actually code for “pages and pages of self-indulgent mind-vomit.” Hey, I’ve been guilty, too. Don’t feel badly. If we aren’t making mistakes we aren’t doing anything interesting.

Thinking does not literature make. Many writers don’t like externalizing because, as humans, we have been conditioned to shy away from conflict at all costs. Great fiction writers must do the exact opposite

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