Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Writing for Story

Jon Franklin certainly has a way of churning out a good story. He raised many questions about the nature of the short-story and nonfiction itself, many of which directly applied to my struggles as an aspiring writer. Although he himself describes his sections on structure as "mechanistic," his narrative of the "Nature of Art and Artists" compounded his points in a manner that both illustrated the trials and tribulations of your average writer in addition to weaving a story that explicitly restated his arguments throughout the book.

I am fascinated in the idea of the complication. Franklin's focus on this subtle aspect that many refuse to acknowledge clarified to me what was important in distinguishing a character. Instead of the result, the moment of change gives insight into what makes that person tick, so to speak. The dichotomy of life and death in "Mrs. Kelly's Monster" was a wonderful example of this, where Franklin both narrates Mrs. Kelly's thought processes and their relation to her condition as well as Dr. Ducker's resolve to live on regardless of Mrs. Kelly's tragic death.

Franklin's unabashed focus on technical details also is refreshing. It blends the worlds of creativity and function in a way that is necessary to tell the story without it becoming dry or succumbing to blind pathos. All in all, it was nice to read on the craft as well as the human aspect of storytelling. Franklin managed to turn a "how-to" book into an enjoyable narrative.


  1. I like what you're saying here about complication, and am also interested in the idea that clearer, more pointed writing produces a more dynamic tension in a story. For example, simple inclusion/exclusion of details, if framed right can lend clues about a persons character or foreshadow the way they might react to something to come.

  2. Hey Jon,
    I agree, Franklin's writing was functional and also entertaining, and real. He had a poignant way of identifying processes, struggles, even emotions that come out during the process of writing and speaking to them in a way that was very easy to connect with. Mrs. Kelley's Monster was yes, an incredible example to layered complication that drives the story forward. I had not thought to break it down so much, but you're right- there is so much going on between the complications of the doctor and the monster, Mrs. Kelley and the monster, and the indirect complication that the doctor feels in his responsibility for Mrs. Kelley. These components drive the story forward and keep the reader enthralled. It is true, conflict does make for the best stories.
    See you in class!

  3. Damn. My post seems silly, exaggerated, and down-right spoiled in comparison to your well thought out description of Franklin.

    I barely talked about the guy.

    I'm in a mood, Jon, if you couldn't tell--but despite that, I appreciate your post for its replication of Franklin's tone.

    Which I think I described as velvety in my post, so that makes things kind of weird.

    Complication was really important. Definitely made me re-think a lot of things (precise, right?) Warp me, tear me, berate me, but he finally did it: Franklin makes a powerful argument for stories needing a point.

    I just don't want to agree. But that doesn't me I don't.

    Thanks for the pensive pondering, Evan.