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On Writing > 25 Considerations by John Rechy

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message 1: by Esther (new)

Esther | 26 comments Mod
My fiction writing teacher passed this out a couple weeks ago and I thought I'd share and see how many of these considerations you agree with. I'd never heard of John Rechy but in the picture on the page he looks like a young, buffed-up Dustin Hoffman.

"Twenty-five considerations I often propose for writers during talks, graduate seminars, workshops (including at Yale, Occidental College, UCLA, Duke, presently USC):"

1. Ignore the "show-don't-tell" cliche. There are times to tell (using exposition), times to show (dramatizing. We talk about storytelling, not story-showing.
2. Never use one word when 10 will do.
3. Suspense is created not by withholding but by gradually meting out information, deepening the matter explored.
4. The word "somehow" often signals that the writer doesn't know an important "how," usually in the area of motivation.
5. Use "suddenly" sparingly. It lessens the effect of suddenness by announcement.
6. The best ending is one which allows the reader to continue to linger within the writer's world.
7. To assure development, consider a formula: A + B = C: "A" is what is, "C" is what became, and "B" is the all-important area of "becoming," of change - the richest area of exploration.
8. There is no development without a catalyst. Why did this occur today instead of yesterday? What was different today?
9. Where possible, allow central matters to occur during a first time so that reader, writer, and character experience a situation simultaneously.
10. In critiquing another writer's work, avoid using "interesting," "doesn't work for me," "nice," and especially (if you do use those words "you know what I mean?"
11. There is no such thing as writer's block. That's just a fancy phrase for not writing.
12. Before experimenting with language, know the rules being broken in order to achieve a desired new effect.
13. The writer doesn't deal with "reality." He creates verisimilitude.
14. Avoid chat in dialogue. Even when characters themselves are "chatting," information must be conveyed.
15. If you find yourself moving too often and too quickly into the past in cumbersome flashbacks, consider starting your narrative earlier.
16. If you find yourself withholding too much - and therefore repeating and reiterating - start your narrative later.
17. Avoid implicit redundancy - the same matter "dressed up" in different language, not developed.
18. Don't overuse the lofty "And" and "But." They usually signal a forced connection.
19. Consider deepening characterization by projecting a character's mood into description of setting from his point of view: use "sad" words, "dark" words, "slow" verbs.
20. Avoid announcing action you then go on to describe.
21. If you're going to err between "stinginess" and excess in narrative, go with excess.
22. Sequence of delivery affects meaning essentially. What we know influences all that follows.
23. Don't flirt with the reader, withholding information only to tantalize, using cute phrases, coy prose.
24. In aiming for publication, assume that there is a powerful NO "out there" awaiting you. Your function is to chip away at that "No" by writing the best you can and hoping and praying that someone "out there" will recognize good work.
25. There are no rules of writing.


message 2: by Bonita, scribbler (new)

Bonita (NMBonita) | 73 comments Mod
Most of what I know about writing I've learned from good (and bad) stories... BUT, I think I've heard all of these considerations before, with the exception of one or two...

What is #22 about?
Sequence of delivery affects meaning essentially. What we know influences all that follows.

Er... I don't get it.


message 3: by Esther (new)

Esther | 26 comments Mod
I'm guessing it has something to do with how the information is given out...if we know something about a character or some background information about something it might change the meaning of the characters words, actions, plot line, and then meaning of the story itself.

*shrug* There's my guess.


message 4: by Bonita, scribbler (new)

Bonita (NMBonita) | 73 comments Mod
Okay... well that makes sense. I like your explanation better.


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