Monday, August 03, 2009

I Learned About Writing Fiction From That...

A Writer's "Thought Cloud" of sorts:

Don’t tell it; show it! Whenever possible, translate information into people doing things (Swain)
* Every good story starts at the moment of threat (Bickham) * R.U.E.: Resist the Urge to Explain (Browne/King) * Readers want to see a character overcome obstacles (Dixon) * Vividness outranks brevity (Swain) * Figure out whose story it is. Get inside the character—and stay there (Bickham)
* Never switch point of view in order to convey information that you can't figure out any other way to TELL THE READER. That will cause you to divert attention from the "ball" and will only frustrate the reader, not inform him. If there really is no other way for the reader to learn something, then they shouldn't know it (Lichtenberg) * It’s not the experience that creates the trauma but the way the character reacts to it (Swain)
* If there is one single principle that is central to making any story more powerful, it is simply this: Raise the stakes (Maass) * Your main character must light a fire he can’t put out (Swain) * Conflict generates plot (Lichtenberg)
* When you use two words (a weak verb and an adverb) to do the work of one (a strong verb) you dilute your writing and rob it of its potential power (Browne/King) * Create a character. Give her an obsession. Watch where she runs (Bell) * Readers read to experience tension (Swain) * Backstory delivered early on crashes down on a story’s momentum like a sumo wrestler falling on his opponent. Backstory belongs later (Maass) *



  1. I think I'll print this one up.

    I print up little writing tips for things I repeatedly get wrong, like those eeeevil prepositions, and hang them on the wall behind the computer.

  2. Boy, that's some company you mentioned me in!

    But yes, I agree with every single one of those adages.

    It's just that it's easier said than done, and so my post today on Plot Vs. Story -- walking and chewing gum.

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg