The Time Line

Let's wrap up the things I learned about writing good fiction (and hopefully good blogs). You should start by plotting the time line of the story. This does not mean you tell the story in this order. It just gives you the big picture.

Then you write your first draft. This is when you hit the plot main points. It if often fun and beneficial to jump to the interesting scenes. This may give you the motivation you need to go the distance.

The main goal for all of your prose is to advance the plot. Get rid of anything that does not accomplish that main purpose. Get a second pair of eyes to do your proofreading. Have your proofreaders give you an outline of your story. See if they get the plot, theme, and main characters from their first read.

Much thanks to Terry Wessner for teaching me some of the finer points of good fiction. See you at the next Anthrcon.

Dialogue Plus Action

Let's continue to learn how to write great fiction. Props to my main man Terry Wessner who instructed me on these techniques one day.

Be careful not to make your characters sound alike. It is tough given you are just one author. You should also avoid using slang. It gets old quick. That will make your piece dated.

Do not worry much about the genre for which you are writing. There are more important details that will determine your success. You should focus on providing dialogue plus action.

The audience can do the hard work for you. The will fill in the details that are not explicitly written in your manuscript. Just provide the reader with the bare minimum amount of information that is necessary.

Next time I will go over the story timeline, and how you can keep it all together. For now I will leave you with this quote - "God is a great supporting actor."

Characters Redux

Ok let's talk some more about the user of characters to produce good fiction. As always thanks to Terry Wessner for teaching me this stuff. Here is the main point. You should only include characters that move the plot forward. The only other characters you should add are those that give required information.

Your story's characters have to support your theme. That does not mean the characters should follow what the story needs them to do. They should always act in the spirit of their own motivations. But include characters that are vital to the storyline. Be also aware that complex characters can have many motivations. Some of those motivations will be competing ones.

When writing about character activities, make sure they do what they want. They should not act as the author wants. That's enough for today. Next time I will go into character voice and other things related to dialog.

Characters and Setting

Let's continue with more lessons I learned from Terry Wessner. This is how you write good fiction. You should engage the senses. In fact, try to stimulate all the reader's senses. You want to put the reader in the story. It must be concrete. Otherwise you get a shallow image and might lose the reader.

The narrator should describe the setting of your imaginary world. Don't let the characters do this with their dialog. That is weak. Often time some little details that the narrator shares can make a huge impact. You may have the narrator describe the setting as the character perceives it.

Here are some final points. The audience has to relate to your writing. It is key. You will also need to do a lot of research before writing. However 90% or more of the research will not actually make it into your verbiage. You still need to go and do the hard work. Good luck for now. More fiction tips to come.

Cause and Effect

Today I continue sharing some of the fiction writing tips I learned from Terry Wessner at Anthrocon 2009. It is a good thing to construct a timeline of your whole story. This is not necessarily the order in which you will tell the story. It is just what happened and when in the universe you are creating. You may in fact want to start your story in the middle of the timeline, then fill in past details with flashbacks.

Here is a tip. It is best to avoid any types of prophecy in your writing. In other words, don't do flash forwards. That just tends to remove tension from your prose. Lack of tension could cause a lack of attention from your reader. I am sure you would agree that it is a bad thing.

Another recommendation is to go all out to demonstrate consequence. Follow through on this. Next time I will go into senses, details, dialog, and setting. Wow. That's a mouthful. Maybe I will just touch on those subjects next time.

Dealing with Details

I am currently blogging a series about Rules for Writing. This information was presented by Terry Wessner at Anthrocon 2009. Here is an interesting quote from Terry: "People who can make mistakes are more interesting."

You should provide the reader with all the critical pieces needed before writing about the solution in your prose. If you delay this presentation until after you have already solved the mystery, you are going to have some disgruntled readers.

Likewise you need to deal with any details you draw attention to. Note that you do not have to fully explain the details. You just need to address them. This even applies when dealing with a red herring.

Terry did not have a high opinion of Hollywood movies. He did not think they always lacked entertainment value. But he did have this to say: "Hollywood entertainment is strictly coincidental." In other words, Hollywood is out to make money. Period. If the films happen to entertain somebody, that is just happenstance.
I continue to share some of the fiction writing tips I learned at Anthrocon 2009. Terry Wessner gave a presentation on rules for writing good fiction. Here are some things I recall from part of that session.

This may seem like common sense. But idiot plots are just plain bad. An interesting plot may follow from a situation where the challenges encountered exceed a character's powers. The result of this imbalance can make a great story.

You should open with a strong hook. Then you should follow through on reader expectations. Along the way you can reveal motivations of the characters. Don't wait too far into your text to do this. The meat of your writing would then explain the implication of the character motivations.

It is boring if the reader figures everything out on their own too early. Then there is no need to continue reading. So you can provide some false clues along the way. Just make sure you also sprinkle in some true clues to keep the reader involved.

Rules for Writing

This week I attended Anthrocon 2009. Terry Wessner put on a great presentation for writing good fiction. I figured I would apply these skills to my own blog writing activities. And I shall share some things I learned here in the next couple posts.

Meaning, also known as the theme, is important. Fiction is supposed to entertain the reader. Both grammar and spelling are important. You should follow these rules. Some of them may be broken, but you must compensate later in your prose for it to work. It is simpler to just follow the rules.

You should first get to know your target audience. Your goal as an author is to maximize the chance that the audience will get your theme. They don't have to agree with it. But they at least have to read and understand it.

Here is something your should know. Audiences will read meaning into your text based on their own personal experiences. They will also not accept any behavior that is contrary to what normal humans will do. You can write about unrealistic events and actions. However it must be at least believable.