Much of writing advice boils down to: add more conflict. Make sure there’s tension, increase the suspense, ask new questions when you resolve the old ones, and always, always complicate matters. Don’t let your characters get off too easy—don’t be nice!
In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, novelist Carrie Brown talks about the value of having happiness in stories, but not just any happiness. Most happiness involves complication and compromise. She writes:
I am interested in happiness, but perhaps I should say more exactly that I am interested in the difficulty of happiness, or the problem of happiness. It seems to me not a simple thing at all, but something immensely complicated, an exquisitely precarious and ephemeral and nuanced state that depends—in fiction as in life, perhaps—on the nearby presence of unhappiness to be felt most acutely.
Read the full piece: The Difficult Art of Happiness.
This month’s Glimmer Train bulletin also offers:
- On Chipotle and Some Mystical Ghost by Alex Jaros
- What Do They Do? On Characters, Work, and Conflict by Amina Gautier
- Advice by Karen Russell
- The Best-Laid Plans by Josh Henkin
Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.
In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.
Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.