Forums Club Ed Editors’ Forum Fiction requires cruelty Reply To: Fiction requires cruelty

Jennifer Lawler

I think this is a great point, and it’s often overlooked by authors who are trying to create slice-of-life or impart a memoir feel to a novel (and the editors who edit them). Conflict does not mean blowing things up or stumbling over dead bodies in the library. In fact, often blowing things up and stumbling over dead bodies in the library doesn’t necessarily fuel conflict, it’s often just noise to cover up that the author doesn’t have a plot or a point.

And a goal doesn’t have to be “defeat the Russian terrorists before they blow up Grand Central station.” Who was it who said it can just be the character wants a glass of water?

In a quiet novel, the goal can be the longing to have things stay the same forever. This is harder to write effectively than a more proactive goal, but it can be done.

“Movement” and “change” may be better words to apply in less, well, aggressive novels.