How the electric chair metaphor can help you tighten your creative writing

electric chair metaphorI’m a fervent advocate of scientific research.

So much so indeed that I think we can’t have such a thing like too much science or too much knowledge.

However, unfortunately, we can have something like too much technology.

In fact, while science simply uncovers and explains the principles that make our universe tick, and is therefore neutral, technology isn’t necessarily always a good thing.

This holds true even if, in principle, the dichotomy between basic and applied science is bogus.

For example, while science explains what electricity is and how and why it works in such a way and not some others, technology comes up with a billion of different electric-related objects that are for the most part worthless.

For example, speaker cables priced seven thousand dollars aren’t necessarily better than those priced only two hundred or less. In this case I strongly suspect technology is only a way some snake oil salesmen have found to make more money and quicker than ever. That’s to say, creating illusory needs and wants.

Another examples that comes to mind is a bit more somber, to say the least.

I mean, we use electricity also to build electric chairs. Now, irrespective of whether capital punishment is right or not, it’s apparent that such electric chairs are nothing but medieval instruments of torture.

As a matter of fact, the most effective and painless way to kill someone who’s been sentenced to death is to shoot them in the head with extreme precision.

Of course it’s gruesome. It’s messy. Unfashionable and uncouth. But you can be sure that in this way the convict will go from being fully alive to being irremediably dead in a fraction of a second. And considering that pain travels along our nerves much slower than a bullet does, this is therefore a truly painless death.

I could go on forever. But continuing the above list would just be an example of technology applied to writing (adding up words), no longer science (conveying new ideas).

The same goes when we write a novel. We have to make sure the words we write are words that actually move the story forward or add important pieces of information.

In fact, the moment we stop and begin to reiterate, to repeat—as I just have done—is the moment our story stills and dies. Innocently electrocuted.

Of course if you’re writing a horror novel a la Frankenstein you may be able to revive the corpse, I mean the story, again using a lot of electricity, and end up with a masterpiece nonetheless.

But chances are you’re not Mary Shelley. So maybe, just maybe, it’s better to stay on the safe side and avoid having to revive anything at all.


Pictures: skeeze – Sponchia

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