The intensity of my sentence fixation varies from piece to piece. In drafting some stories, there’s no immediate need for me to preen over the sentences because there is a strongly felt thing driving the writing and demanding precise arrangements. The strongly felt thing is a helpful condition. It is a powerful arbiter of no and yes. Its exact nature is hard to pin down. It might be fear of death.

When I can’t conjure a strongly felt thing, which is very often, the sentence can serve the opposite function. The sentence can look for it, can probe to legitimize its own existence. I find, though, that these sentences—even after they’ve tapped into something interesting—never feel as alive to me as their channeled cousins. The fakers hide well, but I know who they are.

Both kinds go into all drafts, but some stories are charmed, others cruel. The big trick is fixing it so people can’t tell the difference.

Dylan Nice

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