“Budgeting Complication”

Google complication in literature and you will get a ton of results about just that: conversations about manipulating that part of the plot that falls between exposition and resolution. However, in Michael Griffith's fiction workshop this summer, we're discussing complication in a broader sense. Griffith's advice is simple. Know where you're spending you're complication. It is perhaps too much to ask of a reader to manage a complicated writing style, complicated plot, complicated setting, and a complicated cast of characters.

"Orient your readers," Griffith says, "so that you can disorient them." We want to be disoriented, to be taken somewhere in a narrative we do not expect to go. However, to invest in a narrative we have to bank on some elements of a story being kept simple. Setting and simple plot seem most promising areas for complication savings. I say spend it on style.

Heather Richie

About Heather Richie

Heather Richie is an M.F.A. Literary Non-Fiction Candidate at Sewanee: The University of the South, and studies documentary arts at Duke University. She is presently Associate Editor at Fiction Southeast and an editorial intern at Garden & Gun magazine.