The Craft of Writing Archives
To write a story within a frame can be as creative as writing without it, but far more productive. For the professional, production is the key to success. Without a clear story line, good writing can often be wasted; sometimes paragraphs, passages, or even entire chapters must be discarded when they don’t further the plot. Thus, we switch the creative plot building to a point before the actual writing. The writer plots the novel from beginning to end and expands each idea, concept, and scene during the writing phase....more
Some authors swear by a story structure while others prefer to “wing it.” This is understandable. The most technically demanding and difficult stages when writing a genre novel involve plotting the storyline and planning.
This section discusses the plotting and structural tools to lay the framework of a genre fiction work. The extent to which a writer uses these is a matter of what works for him and the type of story he writes. Some character-driven novels need little or no outlining.
Termed New Sudden Fictions or Very Short Stories, are pieces of prose running from a couple of lines to a couple of pages. At fewer than five-hundred words, these works demand the painstaking attention to detail common in poetry. These narratives are different, not only because of their lack of space to fully develop a plot and characterization, but because they evoke a single idea or moment and have a reversal, ...more
Flash fiction is a short work of prose, the accepted word count ranging mostly from 500-1000 words and containing all the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. The limited word count often forces some of these elements to remain unwritten, that is, hinted at or implied in the story line....more
A short story is a work of prose, often in narrative format of limited extension.
The novelette, like the true short story, features originality of theme and ingenuity of invention, but it’s not restricted to the short story word count.
Besides the novel, there are many additional fiction narrative formats. The most salient formats include: Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Flash Fiction, and New Sudden Fictions.
In 2005, Noah Lukeman, a literary agent with a towering reputation, wrote The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile. The title says it all: Five pages is all we have to ensnare our reader, though we must confess Mr. Lukeman is an inveterate optimist when it comes to the astringent evaluation process of manuscripts from unknown writers. Often, the first five paragraphs, or sentences, or even clauses, will send a manuscript to the trash can.
Films and TV have changed the way we assimilate narrative. In bygone times, before readers watched TV and traveled wide, a writer spent thousands of words outlining setting, background, and atmosphere to immerse the reader in a given world. Now, thirty-seconds of imagery will convey the same effect.