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 28, 2016

Short Story-Writing : an Art or a Trade? by Nathan Bryllion Fagin


I Overture 1

II Action 12

III "O. Henryism"  29

IV The Moving Pictures 48

V Verboten 67

VI The Artificial Ending 101

VII Form and Substance 114

VIII Finale 125

IX Effect 132

Index 137

Moods may be uncomfortable, and sad, and painfully disturbing, but, on the other hand, they make pleasant music occasionally. Here I sit in the dusk, looking out Into the street that is ordinarily so familiar to me, but has suddenly become blurred and weirdly mysterious in the gathering murk. A veil is over my eyes, which see the familiar houses across the street, the young poplars In front of them, the few passersby. But my mind does not discern these objects; It sees far subtler things — floating, flimsy, evanescent. The dusk is in my mind, evoking thoughts. Illusions, pictures — and speaking, questioning, singing. The dusk is an overture to the things I have set out to say, playing innumerable variations of my theme, whispering in every note: "Stories, Stories, Stories!"

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