I’ve recently read the short story collection – Diaboliad by Mikhail Bulgakov. As with all of his writing, these stories revolve around the fantastical, written in the recognizable Bulgakov style. There’s one common thread in them, though – he’s always referring to a Russian writer, mainly a predecessor.
In the introduction, the English editor explains that it’s the Russian writer’s tradition to pay homage to your predecessors, those that shaped the national literature and your early development.
The year is almost gone. It’s holiday time for family gathering, food, drinks, and fun. I doubt that anyone is going to sneak out from the festivities and write (a solemn bow, if you do!).
Christmas revolves around family and, last but not least, the family table. In the heat of enjoyment and gratitude for being together, family members share stories. For me, this is the best part: the storytelling.
As a writer, you are bound to be a language lover and enjoy the infinite combinations that produce a unique effect, striving for the occasional strike of reaching the near-magical. You continuously learn words, perhaps obsessively dive into etymologies, underline admired phrases by other authors, and practice weaving words in the quest of developing your own style.
It’s not unlikely that you also write down sentences and paragraphs by others and read them aloud, enjoying their delicious taste which sometimes feels as if they’ve come from another, unknown and better universe.
Do you write from personal experience? Or you rather get lost in imaginary worlds and alternate realities, full of superheroes and alien creatures?
Our imaginations are endless and should be exploited creatively as much as possible. And yet, the number one writing advice says: ‘Write what you know’. Does this suggest that only war veterans can write about wars, or that Jules Verne really went around the world in 80 days?
Honestly, I used to hate this epic instruction. It somehow suggested that everything anyone writes is utterly personal and resembles the writer’s soul. Which simply isn’t true.
It seems one of the most neglected considerations in writing is form. Everything else screams for more attention: chosen topic(s), subtheme(s), genre, characters, plot, voice, style. As for form itself, the decision usually goes along the lines of choosing whether to be a short story, a poem, a play or a novel. From there on, you’re supposedly not to think much about it, except how to structure the plot and cliff-hangers in the whole story.
Rather than following familiar schemes, you can experiment and find your own specific way. In this age of radical change, form can also be a widely explored phenomenon.