Read Like A Writer

There are two ways to learn how to write fiction: by reading it and by writing it. Yes, you can learn lots about writing stories in workshops, in writing classes and writing groups, at writers' conferences. You can learn technique and process by reading the dozens of books like this one on fiction writing and by reading articles in writers' magazines. But the best teachers of fiction are the great works of fiction themselves. You can learn more about the structure of a short story by reading Anton Chekhov's 'Heartache' than you can in a semester of Creative Writing 101. If you read like a writer, that is, which means you have to read everything twice, at least. When you read a story or novel the first time, just let it happen. Enjoy the journey. When you've finished, you know where the story took you, and now you can go back and reread, and this time notice how the writer reached that destination. Notice the choices he made at each chapter, each sentence, each word. (Every word is a choice.) You see now how the transitions work, how a character gets across a room. All this time you're learning. You loved the central character in the story, and now you can see how the writer presented the character and rendered her worthy of your love and attention. The first reading is creative—you collaborate with the writer in making the story. The second reading is critical.


John Dufresne, from his book, The Lie That Tells A Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Fundamentals of Fiction Writing by Arthur Sullivant Hoffman

Overview

Excerpt from Fundamentals of Fiction Writing

Living in so complex a civilization, we generally fail to realize how complex have become our mental habits. We have come more and more to think upon complexities until, for the most part, the more elementary facts, processes and approaches are slighted or omitted as beneath the high development of our minds. However learned our thinking may be, its foundation must be elementary thinking, and, if elementary thinking is neglected because it seems too elementary for attention, the result is likely to be unsoundness of the whole structure because it has been erected on unsound foundation.

I. By Way of Introduction

II. A General Survey . .

III. Creating the Illusion

IV. Your Readers

V. Distractions

VI. Clearness . .

VII. Overstrain . .

VIII. Convincingness

IX. Holding the Reader

X. Pleasing the Reader

XI. Plot and Structure

XII. Character . . .

XIII. Individuality vs. Technique .

XIV. The Reader and His Imagination

XV. The Place of Action in Fiction .

XVI. Adaptation of Style to Material

Appendix : Your Manuscripts and Editors

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