"Let me tell you what’s happening to me. I’m on the PTA at my child’s school, the Secondary School of Journalism in Park Slope. I’m currently advocating on behalf of my child, and seventeen other children whose parents don’t speak English. These kids are from Ecuador, Peru, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, everywhere. These kids have all done very well on their Regent’s exams— I’m talking 90/95th percentile. Very smart kids. They were on their way toward qualifying for an Advanced Regents government scholarship,that would give their parents badly needed money to help in their education. But the fine print of that scholarship says the children need three full years of a foreign language.
And the principal at the school FIRED the Spanish teacher. She is not hiring another foreign language teacher for an entire year, effectively disqualifying all these kids from that scholarship they need. When we try to talk with her about it, she acts like she doesn’t owe us an explanation. When we try to call the Board of Education, they tell us to put it in writing. They get us all excited. They have us think if we write a nice letter, and use good grammar, and use all the correct punctuation, something will happen. Meanwhile another year passes, and nothing. And the kids don’t get their scholarship. You know something like this would never happen at a nice Manhattan school like Stuyvesant.
We’ve got a new mayor and a new chancellor. So we aren’t blaming them. But they need to know how impossible they’ve made it to help our kids. Trying to get something fixed in these schools is like praying to some false God. You call and email hoping that God is listening, and nothing happens. Meanwhile the kids suffer. All these parents that I’m representing are good, simple people. They say: ‘Don’t worry Annette, God is going to fix it. God will make it right.’ I love them. And I love God. But I tell them: ‘God won’t fix it! We’ve got to fix it!’”
- It must be credibly motivated, both as to the original situation and the dénouement.
- It must be technically sound as to the methods of murder and detection.
- It must be realistic in character, setting and atmosphere. It must be about real people in a real world.
- It must have a sound story value apart from the mystery element: i.e., the investigation itself must be an adventure worth reading.
- It must have enough essential simplicity to be explained easily when the time comes.
- It must baffle a reasonably intelligent reader.
- The solution must seem inevitable once revealed.
- It must not try to do everything at once. If it is a puzzle story operating in a rather cool, reasonable atmosphere, it cannot also be a violent adventure or a passionate romance.
- It must punish the criminal in one way or another, not necessarily by operation of the law…. If the detective fails to resolve the consequences of the crime, the story is an unresolved chord and leaves irritation behind it.
- It must be honest with the reader.
Open Culture unearths Raymond Chandler’s 10 rules for detective stories, many of which apply just as perfectly to storytelling in general.
Pair with Chandler’s advice on writing and the only surviving recording of his voice, then revisit other notable writerly rule-lists from Elmore Leonard, Kurt Vonnegut, Henry Miller, Margaret Atwood, Zadie Smith, Neil Gaiman, and Jack Kerouac.
“Work finally begins when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly.”
Alain de Botton, who knows a thing or two about doing what you love, quoted by Megan McArdle, author of The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success.
Pair with Debbie Millman’s indispensable Fail Safe.(via explore-blog)