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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Monday, August 22, 2016

How to Write Short Stories by L. Josephine Bridgart

Chapter I.
Common Sense in Viewing One's Work, 1

Chapter II.
The Necessary Mental Equipment 9

Chapter III.
Finding Time and Material 16

Chapter IV.
Hints for Equipping The Shop 27

Chapter V.
Common Business Sense in Meeting the Market. 35

Chapter VI.
The Great Art of Story Writing: Construction 48

Chapter VII.
The Great Art of Story Writing: Style 57

Chapter VIII.
The Great Art of Story Writing: Adaption of Style to Material 63

Chapter IX.
The Great Art of Story Writing: The Element of Suspense — Viewpoint 68

Chapter X.
The Great Art of Story Writing: Characterization. 76

Chapter XI.
The Great Art of Story Writing: Plots 84

Chapter XII.
Using Acquaintance as Material 93

Chapter XIII.
The Author's Personal Responsibility 102

Chapter XIV.
The Editors 108

Chapter XV.
Criticism 118

Chapter XVI.
Help from Other Writers 126

Chapter XVII.
When You're Tempted to Shut Up Shop 131

Chapter XVIII.
The Business of Writing — A Summing Up 138


The great purpose of "How To Write Short Stories" is to induce the new writer to look at his profession in a business-like way and to go to work with his business sense fully awake. The book also seeks to answer some specific questions which usually rise up to vex the new writer and in general to make the technique of writing for publication more clear and simple.

- L. Josephine Bridgart.

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