Write Decently – E.B. White

EB white - Author of Charlotte's Web and The Elements of Style

EB white – Author of Charlotte’s Web and The Elements of Style

Goal: To Write Decently

If I have defined my ideal reader properly, I assume that she is educated, experienced in both vocation and life, and that this is certainly not her first rodeo.

She is genre savvy, because she reads a lot, and she can spot a deus ex machina coming from a mile off. She is familiar with all the episodes of my favorite TV shows and movies and will know if I blatantly rip off a plot device and don’t use it with my own tweak and twist. She’s no stranger to the more familiar classics. She knows what has gone before.

To write decently, I have to be honest, to build my characters to act like real people, to have them do what they do because of who they are, and then to put them into situations that reveal who they are. Those situations must have reasonable and logical consequences, if unforseen, to whatever actions are taken.

She can see the humor in the eccentricities of life because she has had both the occasion and the self-awareness to laugh at herself.

My ideal reader will enjoy a well-turned sentence, but not at the cost of a well-twisted plot. She can sympathize with the struggles of the first initiation into adulthood, because she is dealing with the challenges of the initiation into middle age or passing through the next change into elderhood. She will not stand for a cheap shot, a platitude, or a conveniently timed visit from the cavalry.

My goal, then, is to tell a good story, honestly, decently, to a reader who has trusted me enough to plop down coin in exchange for an experience in another mind, in another world, in another place.

For more stories, told decently, check out the Magic of Solstice Fantasy Writers’ Tour which begins June 1, 2015.

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