The first mystery, where novels [and short stories] are concerned, is how anyone manages, ever, to write a book that’s any good at all.
Sure, go ahead, simulate life, using only ink and paper. Take the words offered by the dictionary, the same words that are available to everybody who can read, and arrange them so strategically that they simultaneously illuminate and deepen the mystery of human existence.
Do so in a way that’s cogent and compelling, that grabs readers with the opening line and doesn’t let them go until the final one. Don’t make it too neat and tidy—that will come off as trivial. But don’t make it too messy and sprawling, either—that won’t feel like much of anything at all…
Still want to write after that?
If your answer is ‘YES!’: you’re crazy, but I understand. You must read-read-read and write-write-write though. So, start now: subscribe to Electric Literature’s Recommended Readings, read Wescott’s The Pilgrim Hawk, or check out these suggested shorts (bottom of the page). You’ll be glad you did.
Oh, yeah, and then write. You have to because–remember?–you’re crazy. But, people like me understand.