David Mitchell: Advice on Narrative and Plot
In an interview conducted by Catherine McWeeney for Random House's "Bold Type" webpage, David Mitchell gave some excellent, concise, practical advice for aspiring writers:
A trick to writing a compelling narrative is so simple it's often overlooked: invent a character the reader likes and make nasty or dangerous things happen to him or her (the character not the reader): Cinderella, Jane Eyre, Molder and Scully, Huckleberry Finn, Agent Cooper. Similarly, plot possibilities swarm around criminal elements like bees around a hive.The advice about character is intuitively credible, and also coheres with my experience as a reader, so I can fully affirm the validity of Mitchell's principle here . . . for whatever my opinion might be worth.
I'm less sure about his principle concerning plot, so I'll have to think about that, but he certainly applies it in his second novel, number9dream, though his first principle seems even more obviously applied in this work.