McSweeney’s Aaron Guest Gives Us Insight: Drafts, Character Issues


Writing for McSweeney’s, Aaron Guest gives us a sense of how to prepare your short story for the upcoming draft:

If you enjoy fiction, satire, and sports, this will be pleasurable.

Some highlights:

BILAS: It was an intriguing pick of narrators for sure.

LAW: Let’s talk developmental craft challenges you faced employing such a close POV. You need a very different approach, or at least part of your drafting approach has to be different, to be able to accommodate and develop this character in this way and also the minor characters. I think that’s the real challenge. Now like my colleague Mel was saying, if a character can hit the broad side of a barn with the reader right out of the chute you should consider that successful. I think Vernon throws strikes with the prose—

KIPER, JR.: Sure we can talk about “athletic prose” all we want but—

LAW: But in terms of this draft—were you intentional about looking more at ways to develop lesser characters first and hope to work on some of the other aspects of POV choice later?

KIPER, JR.: There are just a lot of character issues for me. I think I’ve said that. I’ll say it again. A lot of character issues. Right from the beginning. You need characters who can catch and run. I mean run. I mean explosive, dynamic plot points that can really be exploited. This main character Vernon, I like him. But I’m not high on him. The minor character Sullivan? He’s strong. He’s got the intangibles. And a bit undersized for this draft. If you’re going with a scheme like this, you need a guy like Sullivan in a more upfront role. If you’re going with this scheme you need characters who can play in it.

BILAS: Some of this is an eye‑of‑the‑beholder thing, but it’s just interesting because—-

MELROSE: Vernon as narrator? I think he’s one of the guys in the conversation. I happen to think he could change the game for you. I don’t think he will, but he might. Look, he’s not going to be this guy in that draft two months from now. He’ll get better each draft and that will make it a much better story.

BILAS: See, I don’t think it will. I think you’ve got as good a value as your gonna get pretty at this stage. Your prose is really athletic, sure, it gets up and down. Great pace. But with a protagonist, how often do we say, great pace, great voice, really well-written, impacts the story, but can he score? Or does the writing have to score?

KIPER, JR.: Just a lot of character issues for me. Just give another character the ball in space and see what he can do.

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One thought on “McSweeney’s Aaron Guest Gives Us Insight: Drafts, Character Issues

  1. Christihaup says:

    The best film of the year “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” A lot of positives !

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