Pushing the limits of story

You can do anything

Today, I read something from Robin Sloan that made me take notice:

Detective fiction has many rules, but fiction generally has only one: you can do anything, as long as you pull it off.

Much of the time I spend teaching gives my students the essential tools of the story—want, obstacle, action, response, outcome—which I repeat over and over.

I know that there are edge cases. Stories with minimalism, anti-plot, no plot, resist conflict and have no conflict. On and on and on. WOARO itself fits a very classic Western story structure.

However, learning story was my saving grace in figuring out script and novel writing. If I hadn’t come across it, I’d still be stuck and struggling—lost and frustrated.

Despite all that, I know Sloan is right. A story can be anything. You can do anything. In fact, I love those that test its edges and push it past its limits.

But as I always say, do it—but understand that not everyone will follow. And that’s okay.