Fictivity: Vacuums and Goals

You might think that you are a writer because you want to make money. Or you might think that you have something that you desperately want to say — even if you’re not exactly sure what that is.

Flip it around. Look at it from the viewpoint of a potential reader.

Your fiction exists to fill a vacancy for a reader.

Earlier we looked at the concept of vacuums and how a reader in real life probably has a set of such things pressing in on him or her right now, sucking up attention and motivating action. A vacuum is broadly defined as anything that is missing — which might include health, food, shelter, compassion, knowledge, friends, love, comfort, even life: anything which by its absence prompts a need. Vacuums draw things in towards themselves — if we are hungry we seek food, if we are cold we seek warmth, if we are lonely we seek companionship, and so forth. Vacuums are the primary driving force behind most of what we see around us.

Tapping into that force and using it in fiction gives us one of the greatest secrets of the master authors. If as a writer you can suggest, imply, portray or otherwise outline a vacuum that even lightly resembles a vacuum shared by a reader, your fiction has some hope of attracting attention; if you are blundering along writing the first things that come into your head and wondering why you have no readers, it’s because you have not paid adequate attention to vacuums. Perhaps you didn’t know about them consciously — though your own behaviour has been motivated by them to some extent ever since you were born.

Well, you know about them now.

If you can really grasp the concept of vacuums as a tool in fiction writing, you will understand a great many things, including fiction marketing.

If you have a particular vacuum correctly suggested, defined, outlined or implied in your work, then a reader who has some inkli