Synthetic Prophetic is a phrase that I think captures the contemporary fiction writer’s task. Writers are not really prophets, but it’s our job to play at having the answers, depicting worlds and telling tales that illuminate truths. We do our best to cough up sage narratives. Yet, this whole enterprise is a false front. A writing identity. It that sense, it’s all something we synthesize. It’s play.

But there’s a paradox to this. Writers are world makers, but not the world maker. Away from the keyboard, we’re best served by remembering we’re ordinary people. Annnnnd yet, at the keyboard, too much of our real, fallible, humble, flawed, moribund, plain-Jane selves, and our art suffers. Novels and stories (and memoirs and essays) are artworks. Readers need that razzle-dazzle, the dramatic flourishes, that authoritative bombast, the boldness of assertions, our best worldly wisdom.

Straddle the vagaries, embrace the duplicity. Synthetic Prophetic.


SP.com is founded by Benjamin Obler. By day, Ben is an editor in the educational publishing space. He writes instructional curriculum, reading passages (fiction and nonfiction), and other content in the subjects of English Language Arts, Reading, and Writing, typically at the high school level. He teaches at Gotham Writer’s Workshop in New York City. Nico Farriella is a contributing writer and editor. Nick is a short story and flash fiction writer who reads for Split Lip journal. Paul Treeley is a contributing writer.