One of my favorite short stories of all time is The Swimmer by John Cheever. In it, a man living in the suburbs decides, on a hot and pleasant day, to return to his house across town. Only thing is, he doesn’t want to walk or drive–he wants to swim across his neighbors’ swimming pools.
How’s that for a simple goal? It doesn’t even sound all that interesting, until you read the story. Then you find yourself riveted to this character’s journey, which spans one of the creepiest and most fulfilling story arcs in modern literature.
My point in using this example is that it doesn’t matter what your main character’s goal is in a story. People don’t read novels and comic books and watch movies because they think the hero’s goal is unique and interesting. (more…)
Posted by Richard Denoncourt on October 25, 2012
I read Silence of the Lambs for the first time and finished it last week. I went on to watch the movie, noted all the differences, disappointments and improvements (like a good writer) and then continued on with my life.
And yet something stuck with me.
Both the movie and book versions–and from this point onward, I won’t differentiate–did something that is incredibly difficult to do.
They created not one, but TWO of the most memorable villains in modern entertainment. (more…)
Posted by Richard Denoncourt on September 18, 2012
This post might anger some writers (especially MFA’s) but I’m going to put it up there anyway. I’ll begin by asking a question: “Don’t you hate it when you can’t tell the difference between the main character of a story and a walking videocamera?”
I know I do.
Let me clarify: I was reading a literary short story the other day that had been published in a well-known literary journal and was now being included in a “Best of” short story anthology (Best American Short Stories, you might as well know). I got so frustrated I almost threw the book across the room and then (like my dog, Duke, who is a bastard) pee’d on it.
“But Richard, why would you pee on Best American Short Stories? It represents the finest American short fiction being published today!”
As my British friend likes to say, “Piss on that. Wankers.” (more…)
Posted by Richard Denoncourt on April 25, 2012