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

The Art of Writing by George Randolph Chester


I find, in going over the following pages, that I have taken a most authoritative position; that, in some cases, I have written with apparent conceit and even apparent arrogance. I shall not change the passages which might seem to justify such conclusions. I have tried honestly and earnestly to set down the results of my experience in such a manner that they should be of actual help to those who wish to make a success of short story writing, and so have written frequently in the first person, and with vigorous decisiveness, wherever I wished to impress very forcibly certain points. It would be possible to remove my personality from these pages, but in doing so they' might be made less forceful; accordingly they shall remain as they are, without apology and without appeal.



I. The Sordid Side, n

II. Apprenticeship, 16

III. Mental Equipment, 24

IV. Creativeness, 26

V. Imagination, 32

VI. Observation, 36

VII. Democracy, 42

VIII. Sympathy, 46

IX. Humor, 54

X. Industry, 57

XI. The Business Story, 60

XII. The Political Story, 64

XIII. The Detective Story, 67

XIV. . Stories for Children, 70

XV. Stories About Children, 77

XVI. Stories of Adventure, 79

XVII. The Love Story, 81

XVIII. The Historical Story, 88

XIX. Dialect Stories, 90

XX. Stories Not to Be Written, 92

XXI. Construction, 94

XXII. The Beginning, 98

XXIII. Development, 112

XXIV. The Ending, 119

XXV. Description, 120

XXVI. General Observations, 122

XXVII. Condensation, 125

XXVIII. Length of Stories, 128

XXIX. Editing, 130

XXX. Preparing a Manuscript, 132

XXXI. Marketing, 138

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