We semi-regularly volunteer with the most awesome nonprofit in the entire universe, chaperoning the fine young people of Brooklyn as they bravely sally forth upon the perilous battleground that is Learning the Craft of Fiction. We have also noticed of late in the slushpile a shocking number of queries from writers who are possessed of stunning credentials, have published short stories in All the Finest Literary Journals, and who send us, upon our eager request, their debut novels, which are written in such breathtakingly lovely prose that it is sometimes upwards of forty pages before we realize NOTHING IS HAPPENING, HAS HAPPENED, OR IS GOING TO HAPPEN. How are these seemingly disparate elements related, you ask us? Why, we'll tell you!
Here's something kids figure out right away: an important part of Crafting Fiction is Keeping the Reader Interested. Seem obvious, yes? But sometimes one gets so carried away on heady flights of turgid prose that one loses sight of all clear objectives and shortly thereafter launches one's rapture-inspired offspring into the mercilessly cruel seas of the Slushpile, having forgotten altogether to arm it with the Life-Raft of A PLOT.
Take this fine advice from young T., a third-grader from Park Slope: "It's like when you think you are going to care about the book, but then no stuff happens, so you get bored and then you read a different book." Or wee L.: "If the people aren't doing anything cool the book is dumb." Writing Literary Fiction does not give you a special exemption from being interesting, dear author-friends. Making cool stuff happen is not! beneath! you!
Where is our whiskey! Someone send it at once please! And an intravenous shot of R. Chandler!