Six impossible things

Posts Tagged basic writing

All together at once

Writing is difficult to talk about. I mean the real thing, the stuff that happens when you are sitting there with your paper and pen or your computer or your stone tablets and chisel and telling a story. We talk about bits and pieces of writing all […]

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So the next thing that happens is…

As I said in our last exciting episode, there are two kinds of novel outlines writers do:  the sort meant to sell a manuscript to a publisher, and the sort meant to help the writer write the book. This post is about the second kind. The first […]

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A Line Around the Outer Edge

“Outline – 1) A line showing the shape or boundary of something; 2) A statement or summary of the chief facts about something; 3) A sketch containing lines but no shading” – Oxford American Dictionary If you want to be a professional novelist, odds are that sooner […]

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But It Really Happened That Way!

Real-life incidents aren’t all that useful in fiction, in my experience, because real life just sort of happens.  Basing a piece of fiction too closely on real-life events and experiences all too often results in stories that don’t work, and which the author justifies by saying “But […]

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The End

What makes an ending “The End”? In a word: closure. At the end of the story, whether the heroine won or lost, she’s not going to get another chance to try. The Evil Overlord is gone for good, the wedding is on (or off), the murderer has […]

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The Other Big Three

When professional writers are asked “what are the books you keep within arm’s reach of your desk or computer?”, many of the lists have for years included Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Fowler’s Modern English Usage is also popular, as is The Chicago Manual of […]

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Where do I begin…

How do you decide where a story starts? Stories, short or long, generally are not about characters who are happily living their normal lives. Something unusual is going on; something has upset the status quo (whether the status quo was a miserable life as a slave, or […]

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A Different View

One of the problems with talking about writing is that the terminology isn’t standardized. Even when everybody agrees what something is called, the same word gets used to mean other things, which can lead to confusion. Take the term “viewpoint.” It can mean either the person through […]

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The jigsaw puzzle analogy

I keep running across people who think that there is One Right Way to write a story, and who tie themselves in knots trying to force themselves to write “the right way” when it doesn’t suit their particular mental processes. Somewhere, somehow, they’ve gotten convinced (usually because some […]

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He said, she said

A speech tag is the thing that goes with a line of dialog that tells you who said it; it “tags” the line with the name (or occupation, or some other identifiable description) of the person who said it. “Run!” Jeff cried. (“Jeff cried” is the speech tag.) […]

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