ARCHIVE FOR Ron MacLean
Unity of Opposites: A Storytelling Model
(Part 3 in an erratic series)
Structure is something many writers, especially short story writers, aren’t conscious of. If we are, most likely it’s in the form of the story curve – the classical approach to defining narrative structure – that’s been burned into our consciousness
For decades, the Fichtean curve almost exclusively defined the short story
April 24, 2015 | Ron MacLean
What Is Story? A Journey of Understanding, Part 2
Like any evolving human, my perspective changes with time on some of the questions that preoccupy me. One of those that’s been changing (again) recently is my engagement with the question, “what is story?”
It’s been a long time since I fully subscribed to the Fichtean curve, or to a purely plot-based Aristotelian vision of conflict-complication-climax as the only (or even primary) definition of story
February 27, 2015 | Ron MacLean
Four Characteristics of Any Successful Story
This begins a three-part series, written in reverse: this installment is the conclusion; over the next two months (on fourth Fridays), I’ll trace that conclusion back to its roots. It all swirls around an ongoing exploration that’s at the core of my writing (and teaching) practice: what is story – and how can we continue to make story new while honoring what it has always been?
December 26, 2014 | Ron MacLean
Making it New
“The calling of the artist, in any medium, is to make it new.”
– Jeanette Winterson
Every week when I teach, every course I teach, I post a quote on the white board. For pondering. For inspiration. The one above is in regular rotation. Often, it’s the first one I post, the first week. Sometimes, one of the writers in the room will ask what I mean by it.
November 28, 2014 | Ron MacLean
Why Back Story Is Often the Wrong Answer
It comes up a lot in fiction workshops as we work to make stories better. I want to know more about the girlfriend (lover/husband/dog). And it’s an honest reader reaction. But whenever I hear it, I ask a follow up question: why? Which is to say, how would background information about that character enhance your experience of the story?
I ask that follow-up because I’ve come to see that more often than not when readers make that request, they are really asking for something else – something deeper – and that writers who respond to the surface request will leave …