For Aspiring Writers

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From the Experts: Writer’s Tips #7: What are short stories?

A wonderful definition and valid point that all short story writers and aspirers should be aware of from Schaum’s Quick Guide to Writing Short Stories

We will concentrate on the traditional story—the kind that derives its power from characters, actions, and plot; that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Not all short stories are like this. An advantage of the short story form is that its brevity allows variations and experiments that would be difficult to sustain throughout the much longer course of a novel.

A short story writer can focus on sketching a character, presenting a slice of life, playing with language, or evoking a mood. Many excellent stories written and published today achieve their impact from the way the author assembles a mosaic of images or jagged fragments of experience, instead of telling an old-fashioned tale. But the traditional story provides the best vantage point for examining the craft of short story writing.


From the Experts: Writers Tips #6

16 Villain Archetypes to create three dimensional antagonists for your plot from Tami D Cowden

The TYRANT: the bullying despot, he wants power at any price. He ruthlessly conquers all he surveys, crushing his enemies beneath his feet. People are but pawns to him, and he holds all the power pieces. Hesitate before getting in this man’s way – he’ll think nothing of destroying you.

The BASTARD: the dispossessed son, he burns with resentment. He can’t have what he wants, so he lashes out to hurt those around him. His deeds are often for effect – he wants to provoke action in others. He proudly announces his rebellious dealings. Don’t be fooled by his boyish demeanor – he’s a bundle of hate.

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From the Experts: Writer’s Tips #5

This one is a gem. Brilliant tips of figure of speech by How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey

Don’t use the oldies but goodies:

  • blind as a bat/eats like a horse/dead as a doornail/a cold fish/cool as a cucumber/tight as a Scotsman/right as rain/flies off the handle/crying over spilt milk/a sea of faces.

Don’t use similes in a long string:

  • She was tall, like a telephone pole; and she was thin, like a reed; and her skin was soft, like velvet; her eyes,blue as the Pacific.

Don’t mix your metaphors:

  • He liked to bury his head in the sand and keep his light hidden under a bushel.

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From the Experts: Writers Tips #4

Good description takes many forms and does not depend solely on adjectives and adverbs for impact. A statement as simple as “the man wept” may be all the description you need for a particular scene. What makes one story more finished—more “real” and alive—than another is not a matter of adjectives per sentence; it is the accuracy and relevance of whatever description you do use.

Description, by Monica Wood

From the Experts: Writers Tips #3

Prologues are often just a section of backstory or setup relabelled as prologue. It ain’t foolin’ nobody, chum. Sorry. It’s just the same wine in a slightly different bottle. If it looks like backstory or setup, walks like backstory or setup, quacks like backstory or setup—then it’s Donald-the-Backstory/Setup-Duck. Setting it apart and calling it something else isn’t going to work. Here’s some advice on prologues: Mostly: Don’t do ’em.

There are, of course, exceptions. One popular exception is a prologue in a book in an established series. A prologue is sometimes used in such a book simply to bring the fans of the series up to speed for the current

There are other legitimate reasons to employ a prologue. But don’t use one if you’re just trying to sneak in backstory.

Hooked, Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One by Les Edgerton

From the Experts: Writers Tips #2

James Scott Bell

From ‘The Art of War for Writers’ by James Scott Bell

If you are a “character-driven” writer, spend an extra 10 percent of your writing time ratcheting up the action. How can the events of the story be made more threatening, suspenseful, fresh? If you are more on the “plot-driven” side, spend 10 percent of your writing time going deeper into the emotions of the character, how she is reacting to the events, how they threaten her inner well-being.

From the Experts: Writers Tips #1

From ‘Characters and Viewpoint’ by Orson Scott Card

One rule I try to follow is to make sure all my major characters’ names start with a different letter. I won’t have a Myron in the same story with a Milton, unless there’s some compelling reason to violate that rule.

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