New and Improved?

Sometimes, understanding what makes a good story is almost visceral, an experience that can’t be wholly explained, but you know it when you read it.  Others make it a point to dissect the phenomenon and break it down into something comprehensible.

Let’s pretend there are writers out there who gazed at their own navels for so long that they decided the experience would render into great stories.  When the first novel hit the bookshelves, most readers were critical of it.  After all, it lacked plot and character development.

A few readers did relate to it, though, and other navel novels began surfacing.  While the majority still pointed out they were poorly written, others insisted it was just an alternative style.  Why be bound to the traditions of writing stories with tension and follow grammar rules?  This new genre simply threw off those constraints and claimed to be free and unfettered.

Those writers then insisted their genre shouldn’t just be a subcategory.  The hallmarks of navel novels should be adopted into all branches of fiction.

Many writers argued the tradition of storytelling had established that conflict and development were essential to a compelling narrative.  But anybody who resisted the new changes was labeled unimaginative.  And some writers went along with tearing down the old rules because they figured they should keep up with what was declared as the wave of the future, or because they were afraid of being called unimaginative.

As more books took on the elements of a navel novel, other stories that followed the established norms came under increasing attack.  Even the great novels in history were declared to be unenlightened, and book burnings were resurrected.

So did navel novels make the craft of writing better, or worse?  Some might argue that’s a matter of perception, but it seems that when guidelines have been established over the generations, they shouldn’t be readily dismissed.

It’s the novel idea that must shoulder the responsibility of arguing why the rule of thumb should change, considering the body of evidence….