You probably know all this, on some level. But to become a master author, a writer isn’t satisfied to merely write but wants to master the subject of fiction on an entirely different level.
We saw earlier that the vast, raw universe of meaning finds expression through almost limitless morphemes and phonemes, which combine like chemical compounds into vast numbers of words. These are classed into a large number of categories. The writer of fiction uses them (along with visual and other sensory images, conveyed using these basic units) to conjure whole new universes.
Up and down this chain of meaning, or up and down between the layers of the significance pyramid, there is a vast complexity of inter-relationships. So too, an immense complexity of interconnections can be found amongst these created fictive worlds. There are, for example, all kinds of parasitic and saprophitic authors, who survive through direct imitation, sometimes verging on plagiarism: some live on the works of others, drawing upon their strength while contributing little; some live in symbiosis, or in friendly cooperation, with other authors. No work of fiction exists in isolation from other works; it’s a universe of overlapping universes.
Up and down the pyramid everything can be consumed, eventually, by readers. Some of it readers thrive upon; some of it is tossed aside in short order as possessing little or no value. Some of it — probably the bulk of it — has a short shelf life, lending an apparent sustenance but after a while being retired or passed on, like a vast fluid library. A relatively small amount of it remains, moving from generation to generation and recognised as priceless. It is in this category that the master author strives to belong.
Master authors have to enter into some kind of relationship with this big picture (of which they should never forget that they are a part) and they do so at their peril — but it is their duty to do so. Why that is the case will become apparent as we continue on our journey.