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I felt like Vaughn did a fantastic job of writing both with a simplistic approach to story-line and plot and also a flair for the unusual and a good sense of humor. Beyond developing a plot for my stories, I always find it very difficult to decide the path that my characters will take in order to fulfill that plot. I have trouble developing it into something enjoyable to read while also functioning as an effective vehicle for the “big-picture” message I’m after. My attempts at incorporating the bizarre or unusual often end-up complicating as well, as I seek to justify them in ways that obstruct the flow of the story.

What is the plot of this story?: A young woman, driving on her way to a party, hits black ice and collides with a police cruiser and then sees footage of the wreck the next day on TV.

Whether or not that’s entirely accurate, it’s still very simple and straight forward. And yet, it doesn’t even mention some of the most memorable images of the story: the rooster with a speech impediment sitting in the passenger seat; the druggy juggling student whose car’s stuck in a ditch; the gigantic Officer Cook; the heartbeat of the Universe. How did Vaughn successfully insert all of these wonderfully rich, humorous, and yet, utterly believable details without distracting the narrative? It’s not as if she didn’t explain why they were there in her story: we get some background info (i.e. the bird loving friend and the concert 400 miles from home). Part of her success lies, I think, in how she doesn’t overwork those explanations into a big tangle of circumstance.

So if that’s the case, then is it more a question of what am I doing wrong than what is she doing right, or is it a skill that I can only one day hope to achieve through experience?

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