On ambition and focus as opposing forces

by look i have opinions

One reason I have trouble finishing a story is that as I write, I keep trying to avoid obviousness—that is, straightforwardness, simplicity, tidiness, cliché. But for a story to end, it needs a certain amount of tidiness. For a story to be comprehensible, it needs to be (at least to some degree) straightforward. For a story to cohere, it needs to focus closely on its subject and manage the reader’s expectations, rather than digressing and sprawling all over the place. I wonder if this habit of avoiding obviousness is really a defense mechanism to avoid finishing anything. Or perhaps to avoid being too easily comprehensible, and therefore open to judgment.

The trick, I think, must be to balance this habit with the habit of keeping the story focused. I suspect that the most ingenious writers succeed at being ingenious because they have a lot of practice doing this balancing act.

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