Reflections of an amateur Literary Journal Editor: Part 2, “If It Works, It Works”

Did you know that if you do Control + Z to undo on WordPress it’ll undo half of everything you’ve written and then you have no way to retrieve what you just deleted?

Well now I know! I should make a little grave for my words that I just lost in that horrible accident. It was like watching a wood-chipper eat a man whole. Except it was less hilarious.

Anyway, yes hello, more of Michael Wettengel’s patented (patent pending) directed rambling. This time I’m actually going to be talking about the idea of “If it works, it works,” which I mentioned on my previous blog a few days ago. I think it’s totally something worth discussing.


Plainly put, the idea of “if it works, it works (which will just be abbreviated as “If-work” from now on)” is the idea that nothing is ever truly stupid or a bad idea when it comes to fiction writing. I have seen (and written) in my time ideas that, on paper, just sound outrageous. To list a few: A webcomic about cats who live in an abandoned neighborhood and rule it as a kingdom, a short story that sets out to establish and entire magical world and mythos, and a novel in which the main character is largely a passive observer. Again, it’s easy to laugh or brush off some, if not all of those ideas, as being simply absurd. Who would want to read a comic about cats? How could you possibly establish a whole world in 15 pages? Why focus on the observer and not the more interesting people around him? The question of “Why?” is a different one altogether, one that is much larger and harder to answer. The more immediate question however, is, “can these ideas still work?”

And I think that yes, they can. I can say so with an amount of certainty (as much as a 21-year old first-time author can have) that all of those ideas can work… namely the last one about the observer character because I’m actually talking about The Great Gatsby.

HA. I FOOLED YOU. Unless I didn’t. If not then well played, sir and/or madam. Well played.

 

This idea of “If-work” can extend from movies to video games to poems to anything else you can imagine, so long as it falls under the umbrella of “fiction.” Frankly, anything and everything can be made to work if it translates well into what makes “good fiction.” As a quick sidenote: I want to really delve deeper into the whole “good fiction” idea, but I’ll talk a bit more about it here because screw consistent organization of content!

Good fiction, to me, as I mentioned before, is more of a “feeling” than anything else. It is something that is sometimes hard to describe, but it pulls us in, almost as if it’s our instinct to keep reading. I think quite a bit of that pull comes from the fact that Aristotle might have been on to something when he said that, to badly paraphrase, “art is an imitation of life which is twisted and changed through human perspective.” Art, meaning fiction too, can create this kind of pull on us humans by appealing to our human emotions, which is what pulls us into a story, and ultimately can help us decide if it is “good fiction” or not. A story that doesn’t touch us humans in our human emotions, I feel, ultimately leaves a much lesser impact on us in the end and that impact is what can really make a piece of fiction “good” because it transcends its paper, pixel, or oral bonds.

I have seen fiction where children thrown into life-threatening situations and I couldn’t give the slightest crap about them *cough cough* M. Night Shyamalan *cough cough.* Other times, I have seen fiction where something or someplace that is totally alien, such as Termina in Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask or the Giant in Iron Giant, become totally relatable and impactful.

Quick fun fact, WordPress’ spell check does not recognize “relatable” or “impactful” as real words. The more you know!

Truly, if Shyamadingdong can make Jaden Smith’s plight in “After Earth” so utterly trite that nobody cares and yet Brad Bird and Tim McCanlies can make us care from a giant metal robot from space, it only goes to show that truly, anything can work in fiction if it’s done well. That is to say, anything can work, no matter how arcane or mundane or insane the idea so long as it is able to touch us in our human emotions. If the characters feel real and relatable and stick in our minds after we have finished reading or watching the work, then I think it’s safe to say that the work of fiction was done at least reasonably well. All of the intrigue and plot twists in the world won’t leave near as big an impact if we don’t care about the world and characters that it’s taking place in.

I’m not saying that I’m throwing Song of Ice and Fire under the bus here… okay, I am, but only Feast for Crows. Every time Cersei thought about her stupid small councilmen, another White Walker rose from the depths of frozen hell… they’re going to need a lot more wildfire.

 

Well, I think I’m rattled off my main arguments here for the moment. I’ve got a follow-up for this idea coming, so expect that shortly. Plus, tomorrow I’m sure I’ll remember to add something to this that I forgot today, so expect that too. IN THE FUTURE.

 

 

-END TRANSMISSION. GOOD MORNING, GOOD AFTERNOON, GOODNIGHT-

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