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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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Today's Short Stories Analyzed; An Informal Encyclopedia Of Short Story Art As Exemplified In Contemporary Magazine Fiction For Writers And Student (1918)

Excerpt from, Today's Short Stories Analyzed: An Informal Encyclopedia of Short Story Art as Exemplified in Contemporary Magazine Fiction for Writers and Students

Today's Short Stories Analyzed is a companion volume to Short Stories in the Making. It can, however, be profitably studied without the latter, but not so profitably as when accompanied by it. Together, the books provide a summary of the essential theory of the short story as a type of fiction, and a body of illustrative matter, carefully analyzed, wherein the student will find a plenitude of instances of the specific adaptation and application of the theory to productive purposes by writers of the day.

Each of the books has primarily in mind, without sacrificing its usefulness as a handbook for the non-professional literary student, nevertheless especially to meet the interests and serve the needs of the practicing writer and the student who is preparing himself to write fiction, and accordingly each makes a professional approach to the subject in its entirety, and to the individual problems that it includes. Tho volumes are, in short, practical handbooks for writers, but of a sort to meet the requirements of the serious non-professional student also. This treatment from the angle of practical management and construction probably accounts for the initial welcome given Short Stories in the Making and the steady sale of that treatise.

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Also see: How To Write Fiction, Especially The Art Of Short Story Writing : A Practical Study Of Technique by Sherwin Cody (1896)

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