I highly, highly recommend that you check this out. Buckell (one of my favourite authors) has put together an anthology of seventeen stories that he wrote before being published. This book is a gold mine; the stories alone coupled with Tobias’ explanations have taught me a lot about my own failed short stories.
I caught those words on an episode of the Search Engine podcast, in the context of Ryan explaining how to successfully create a web comic. Now, the more I think of it, this is exactly what writing is about: you spend 99% of your time learning how to hunt the elephant, and maybe after years and years of struggle you actually catch one. *
*Note: I only use the elephant for illustrative value, its probably wiser (and easier) to write a novel.
At first glance this seems counterintuitive, and I’m not sure that it can be applied to all stories, but it does posit an unfamiliar way to develop unique details for setting in a story. For example, check out this random game trailer:
This story could explain why water (the unimportant thing) is important, but leave the main event (the world-shattering apocalyptic event) unexplained. The story might develop around water being scarce and its impact on the characters rather than retreading overused post-apocalyptic scenery. Readers and aspiring writers, what do you think?