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Show the interesting parts of your story, and tell the rest. Good dialogue comes from two things: Think about the last five novels you read. In how many of them did a character die? Good stories often involve death. Death is the universal theme because every person who lives will one day die. Tap the power of death in your storytelling. Most professional writers write three drafts or more.

Instead, the second draft is meant for major structural changes and for clarifying the plot and characters of your novel or the key ideas of your non-fiction book.

How to Write a Great Opening in Creative Nonfiction

The third draft is for deep polishing. Now is when everything starts to gel.

This is the fun part! But until you write the first two drafts, polishing is probably a waste of your time. Good writers know all the rules and follow them.

Creative Writing/Fiction technique - Wikibooks, open books for an open world

Great writers know all the rules and break them. They break them because their stories require a whole new set of rules. You serve your stories. The best way to defeat writers block is to write.

So you want to be a writer …

What matters is how it drives the character, because you don't want a lazy dog doing energetic things; that's entirely out of character. Characters could say something based on their own knowledge and experience. The writer doesn't need experience, only empathy and a good perspective. When doing research on fighting with specific weapons for example, their wielders can tell of their own experience using the weapon s and if it causes pain, is difficult to work with, and so on.

If you don't have good or any experience, research helps a lot! Good research helps a lot. At some point, you will have to name a character. If you get stuck here, one way to get out of it is to use a website dedicated to generating names, such as Fantasy Name Generators. It might seem cheap in practice to use one, but it puts less pressure on you for coming up with names yourself. And you can usually get good names by handpicking first and last names instead of using the given combinations; the key is to pick ones that seem good enough for your story rather than just using totally random ones.

This is optional of course; if you feel confident enough to come up with your own names, then go for it. So now we know that plot is a sequence of events driven by characters. What drives these characters? A lot of things. Narrative conflict is common. Earlier, I explained that if you describe a character who does the opposite of his description, that's bad. While you can legitimately do that in the form of unreliable narration, and that will be covered there's also a principle of "showing versus telling", where you can't emphasize straight up description as a way to get around the "database" of your characters.

If your character is meant to be awesome, you should show them being awesome.

How to Write a GOOD Story

It's very difficult to convince readers a character has a certain trait if you just tell them " character has trait " or if other characters say they have the trait. There are examples, but they're still described by their actions indirectly. You can say a political leader is corrupt and show it just by describing the dystopian society they've created from the perspective of a citizen, and you don't have to mention the leader. Of course, obviously you don't have to do this, but it gets across to the reader that the character has a certain trait. It's just good form.

Everyone struggles with writer's block at some point. Overcoming it depends on the methods you use to write. If you just tell the story as you write on paper, knowing how to continue the plot when you get stuck is really difficult to get out of. Stine's method of writing is to get the scenes down for each chapter, so that any problems figuring out where to go for the next is way easier to deal with. It might "spoil" the story, but again, you're not always the audience.

Top tip; incident has to keep coming from outside, and the unexpected illuminates character. Try experimentally dropping a giant block of frozen piss through the ceiling of their room and see what they do.

Everything I Know About How to Write a Story

There are also possibilities that writers just haven't perceived. You don't have to present action as a one-off series of events; actions can be beautifully recurrent in a sentence running: She would always thank him effusively. And how rude and rare is shrugging, anyway? Your students are not, thank heaven, going to be much like you as writers. They are going to react against you with their own thoughts and creative principles. But a good creative writing course will produce independent-thinking, craftsmanlike innovators with critical, widely curious and energetic minds.

I don't know why this goal isn't more common in universities, anyway. By which I mean if it isn't on the page it doesn't exist. The connection between your mind and the reader's mind is language. Reading is not telepathy. Like or dislike is a personal thing and tells me something about you, but nothing about the text.

If you don't think something is well written, convince me. If you do think so, convince me. Learn from everything you read and understand how to learn from everything you read. And above all read! My classes use texts I am pretty sure they won't know because I want them to see how wide is the world of books and thought and imagination. You can write about anything you like but there must be a connection between you and the material.


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Ezra Pound was right. Many creative writing students start with the belief that writing is entirely the operation of point of view; in other words, that the world only exists in so far as it is perceived by a human personality.


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Most of what I teach involves encouraging students to exteriorise their subjective world by fixing it to objects, instead of routing everything through the persona of Jane or John. For the reader, being trapped in the head of Jane or John, and dependent on them for every scrap of information, is the precise opposite of their own experience of existence. A story that starts with "Jane looked out of the kitchen window and thought about her life" — despite the fact that it may be perfectly true — will always be struggling to free itself from a basic unreality.

Many students find this idea counterintuitive, but the easier and more effortless something looks, the more thoroughly it is underpinned by technique. The desire to write comes easily; writing itself is technical and hard. I give my students exercises in which a certain object has to feature. I choose the object myself: The object represents the impingement of reality, and it nearly always has the effect of turning their writing inside out.

Over time I've learned which objects work the best: Others — a lawnmower, a new pair of shoes — unfailingly make the writing more objective. The narrative has to find a way around it, like water has to flow around an obstacle, and the result is that the whole enterprise is given form. I teach a class on the craft of fiction-writing at Yale, which is a hybrid of a literature course and a writing workshop. If a more traditional literature course has to do with why we're interested in writers like Henry James and James Joyce, my class focuses on how they did what they did, using only ink, paper, and the same vocabulary available to everyone.

If a more traditional workshop is largely based on trial and error — write a story and we'll tell you what's wrong with it — my course is based at least partly on why writers write as they do; on the basis for their decisions. I do remind my students, periodically, that fiction contains an element of ineluctable mystery along with its elements of craft, and that a great story or novel is great in certain ways we can elucidate, and certain ways in which we cannot. We don't dissect great literature in the belief that once all its organs are spread out on the table before us, we've got it figured out.

We read extensively and, each week, do our best to determine how certain effects were achieved by a different writer. How did James build his characters in The Aspern Papers? How did Joyce structure "The Dead"? The students perform writing exercises as we go along. During the week we spend on character, for instance, I ask them to write a single paragraph that conveys the appearance and essential nature of a character.

During the week on structure, I give them an impossible welter of information — seven different people, with twice that many interconnected dramas and conflicts — and ask them to sketch out a story, with the understanding that they can omit as much, or include as much, as they like.

During the final third of the semester I simply tell my students to take what they've learned, and write a story. Any story they like. Which can be anywhere from one to 25 pages long though I encourage them to lean more toward single-digit page counts — I stress economy and precision throughout the semester. The stories they come up with are often surprisingly good. Last week we spent half an hour or more looking in minute detail at two versions of a paragraph from Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea.

She seems to achieve the compression and electric intensity of her final version through minimising the connective engineering of the syntax in her sentences, taking out explanations, excising the mediating voice from around the things seen. The students went home to work on a paragraph of their own, cutting and intensifying in that way, taking out what's flabby and banal.

In the short-story class, we spent lots of time thinking about endings. Why do the endings of short stories carry so much more weight, in proportion to the whole, than the endings of novels? We wrangle over the endings of particular stories we've been reading together — Dubliners , Eudora Welty, Agnes Owens and others. What satisfies, what doesn't? How can the writer tell when it's enough?

Why has taste turned against endings that clinch too tightly, or have too much twist in the tail? The students are working on their own stories: Rehearsing these things collectively loosens the tight fit of fear and inhibition, imagination relaxes. The writing course offers an audience. Everyone lifts their game in response to the exacting readers they'll face next Tuesday.

Student writers are under pressure to learn to hear themselves, to hear how they sound, to make essential judgments about tone and pace and transition.