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everything fiction > What makes for good fiction?

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message 1: by Karey (last edited May 07, 2008 04:29PM) (new)

Karey (kareyshane) | 205 comments Mod
"The whole truth and nothing but the truth, unless making it up is easier or funnier." ~Kassia Krozser's credo. http://www.booksquare.com

This thread is thanks to Soumya's mahhvelous suggestion.



message 2: by Soumya (last edited May 01, 2008 12:21PM) (new)

Soumya Thanks for taking my suggestion.
Here is a tip. using descriptive words helps make a visualization in your head of what the caracter of a book looks like or the place a scene is taking place in.
Say if you are writing poems, to bring a poem alive, you can use poetic devices( simile, onomonapia, oxymoran, etc,), also using descriptive words makes a poem alive. this is my opinion.
If you don't know what a similie is or any other poetic devices feel free to ask me( not trying to say that you are not intelligent, all of you people are definitely smarter than me for sure, unless your around my age).
Soumya


message 3: by Stan (new)

Stan (stan72) | 5 comments Mod
One thing I have noticed with first-time or early stage writers is the tendency to assume that your first or second or even third draft is the end product. It is easy to get tired and reach the conclusion that the writing is done, not because it is, but because you're tired of it.

Another thing that is challenging is the question of whether to work from an outline or just start writing. In other words, do you develop the overall story line and plot first or do you develop the characters and a general concept, and let the characters drive the plot? I personally think it really depends on the type of fiction you are writing. If you are writing traditional popular fiction (such as young adult novels or a romance), then I think you need an outline. If you are trying to write the great american novel, and want your writing to look like Faulkner or Hemingway wrote it, the outline may not matter as much.

That's some thoughts from someone who writes fiction on the side (but hasn't published it yet) and who writes non-fiction all day long!




message 4: by Karey (last edited May 06, 2008 10:21AM) (new)

Karey (kareyshane) | 205 comments Mod
You make some really good points Stan about the question of outlining or whether to "just start writing."

I also think it's incredibly important to know who your characters are, what goes on inside their head, and what matters to them. Then, as the story line moves along, your know how your character is going to respond to events, and what needs to take place for them to undergo a transformation, in what is called a "character arc."

I can't encourage writers enough about researching 45 Master Characters and Story Structure Architect.

Let me tell you why: I thought Secret Speakers was done. After reading these books I realized I had a really incohesive story. So, I started completely over.

In the second book, you'll learn what a dramatic throughline is, different kinds of story structure, etc. If you think it's too confining to start writing that way, remember that once you know the rules, you can break as many as you want!


message 5: by Karen (new)

Karen (karenvwrites) sound like good suggestios K.R. I use how to write a Damn Good Novel I and II,by James M.Frey. and How I write by Janet Evanovich.


message 6: by Jim (new)

Jim Just to pick you up on a word, I don't think anyone who sits down with the intention of writing a 'great' book will ever do so. I don't think that can ever be the primary motivation for writing. It is other people who decide what a 'great' book is. And sometimes it is simply a matter of timing, a book that gives a voice to a generation. I think if one sets that as ones standard one is always going to be disappointed. I think a writer should be happy simply to finish their first novel. If it turns out to be a readable book then they've done well; if it's saleable then even better; if it makes money then they're singing hallelujah all the way to the bank. Belief in oneself is not a bad thing but overconfidence usually leads to disappointment when you find you can't live up to your own 'great' expectations.


message 7: by Karen (new)

Karen (karenvwrites) I just want to write one that is purely entertaining. I don't feel the need for sending a huge message in my fiction writing. I just want to write one that people enjoy. As for non fiction --I would like to pass on some sort of message. It still doesn't have to be a great book as Jim would put it.

As for my first novel I wrote it just to say it could be done.


message 8: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (carrieking) | 8 comments Oh, Jim how true are your words. In January of 2007 I remember the sheer elation of tapping out the words THE END of three years of work! Nothing could take that joy away or even come near it...not even seeing my books on the shelves in Waterstones!

So all new writers get writing, write about what you know don't think about producing a 'great piece of literature' just think about producing a 'great piece of you'!

Keep at it!

Carrie


message 9: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Delors (catherinedelors) | 6 comments I don't "know" my characters when I start writing. I just write, a plot develops and they act in ways I hadn't anticipated. I am not sure about "master" characters. What kind of animal is that? And there are 45 of them? Says who? Isn't more fun to come up with your own?

As for outlines, I simply couldn't work from one, but I find them very helpful for editing once my first version of the ms. is complete.

For "Mistress of the Revolution," I had to write an outline from scratch after finishing my second version. That was time-consuming and rather boring, though necessary.

I learned from experience, and for my second novel, I forced myself to write a one or two sentence summary of each chapter, just after I was done with it. It was still fresh on my mind, so it only took me a minute, and at the end it made for a complete outline!

I am not sure I agree with Jim. As a writer, you set your own standards. And you can't place the bar too high. I don't mean in terms of commercial success, because that's totally unpredictable, but in terms of literary excellence. So I would say every writer sits down with the ambition of writing a great book, and if only she and her Mom think she has succeeded, that's wonderful.


message 10: by Don (new)

Don | 1 comments As a side to what you said in relationship to character development... For me, one of the most wonderful stages in writing a novel or screenplay is when you've developed your characters to the extent that they begin taking over, and actually telling you, as the author, where they want to go and what they want to say--the stage where you've breathed enough life into them that they can surprise you and even educate you on who they really are--Almost as if they're saying, "That's okay, we don't need you now... see you later."

It's not a phenomenon that always shows up, but when it does, it's a bit of a trip, taking you outside yourself.

I also totally agree with anyone who recommends structural outlining. When I first began to write, it took me several years to realize jumping into the story before I had a concrete outline resulted in a great deal of wasted time dumping scenes that were too far outside the eventual story line because I didn't have a story line.

I'm a published writer now, but if anyone wants advice on what not to do, please feel free to ask me.

Thanks for the forum, K.S.R.
Don





message 11: by Karey (new)

Karey (kareyshane) | 205 comments Mod
It's amazing how many varied approaches there are to writing! Like Don, I began by jumping in without thought to who my characters were or how the story was going to take shape. All I knew is that I had the ending in mind very clearly.

I ended up with a huge mess full of too many threads and unneeded chapters. So, after two and a half years of writing, I started completely over, using a loose outline. For me, it's been like magic. But it's different for everyone.



message 12: by Karey (new)

Karey (kareyshane) | 205 comments Mod
Ha, Catherine! You're quite the rebel! Great input! :O)


message 13: by Mark (new)

Mark (markdavidgerson) | 15 comments I'm with Catherine on this. When I began writing "The MoonQuest" (or, rather, when it began writing me), I didn't know anything about the story -- or, frankly, its characters. I simply let story and characters unfold onto the page, trusting that story had an innate wisdom far greater than my own.

As for outlines, I couldn't even do them in school for essays! Then, I wrote the piece and, as Catherine does with her chapters, crafted the outline after the fact.

With my books, I do my best to hold a vision for the completed project and then do my best to let all I write fold into that vision. That's why, in my writing book ("The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write") I call the editing process re-Vision: in other words, revisiting the work and polishing it so that it most resembles the author's initial vision for it.


message 14: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Delors (catherinedelors) | 6 comments Thank you, K.S.R., I take the "rebel" as a compliment! This thing about master characters simply wouldn't work anyway for historical fiction, because you have to build your characters from real people, not archetypes.

More generally I think there's no set recipe for writing. As Mark says, the muse calls, you answer.
I agree with Don: characters take over.


message 15: by Karen (new)

Karen (karenvwrites) I started with an idea, a character and a dead body and went from there.


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

I've tried outlining and found it killing to my creativity. I prefer to start with characters. I meditate over them for days or even weeks. As they begin to grow in my mind, they take solid shape and begin to revel thier own private world. The story unfolds naturally from their point of view.

For me, the most important element in good fiction is emotion. If the writer cannot get to my heart, his story will never linger in my head.



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