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February, 2012

The Crystal Ball of Fiction

by Bruce Cook

In long-ago parlance, writing a fiction story was “spinning a yarn” The word story is key, since this word implies untruths, which reminds a writer that a story of his or her life simply does not qualify for fiction. But the other part, spinning a yarn, is worth further consideration. (Continued below...)


Writing Award Winning Fiction:
The Steps to Get You There

by Laurie Brenner

The Universe works in mysterious ways -- most often in ways we cannot even perceive I recently received notice that I had written award winning fiction

The Universe works in mysterious ways -- most often in ways we cannot even perceive. I recently received notice that I had written award winning fiction. The funny thing of it is I used to think that in order for me to have the house of my dreams -- I would have to be living my dream life -- that of being a best-selling author. 

That is not how it worked for me. 

Though it took me 50 years to achieve my dream house (one that was designed by me and built in conjunction with my husband) I did achieve it (using Law of attraction principles that I''ve written extensively about in other locations on EzineArticles). And it is a beautiful house nestled on the Western Slope of the Sierra Nevada overlooking God''s country and ten acres of natural wooded hills. 

It is my dreaming ground. 

Little did I know that when that life-long dream got fulfilled, all of my dreams would come clamoring at the door, begging entrance and a chance to sup at my table. Warm-heartedly and unabashedly, I opened the door and let them ALL in. 

I have been a writer since I could hold a pencil. And I have reams and reams and reams of written material from before there were computers -- which means I had to hand-type them all. Or write them by hand. 

When I was in my early twenties, I wrote several children''s picture books that summarily got rejected one after the other -- only to find that one of the publishers I had sent my book to actually printed my book under the name of the illustrator. Argh, that was a deep-mining experience, from which I am only now recovering the gems. 

This was all prior to the 1976 copyright law changes that prevented them from doing just that. What I took away from that event was somehow (convoluted though it may be) I felt I was not good enough. 

I did not realize how untrue that was until just a few years ago. If I had just tilted my eyes a bit and looked at it differently I would have realized that if it is good enough to steal and publish -- it meant that I was good enough to publish! 

But as we go through life, and especially if we are working on continually improving ourselves, we come to realize that our self-worth cannot be determined by anyone outside of us. We are the ones who MUST set the standard of our own self-worth. Letting someone else do that for you is giving away your power. 

What happened next meant a new unfolding for me. The many books I kept on the back shelf of my mind started flying towards me, flapping their covers like wings and cooing at me, hovering above my head, first this one, then that one, until finally one touched down. 

Though I had completed a non-fiction book before I wrote this novella, I did not really count that as part of my repertoire because non-fiction is really not my gig. Non-fiction is something I do easily having been a newspaper editor and reporter for several years. Non-fiction, to me, is not writing -- it''s typing -- to steal a quote from Robin Williams doing a parody of Truman Capote. 

I prefer to write fiction because in fiction, spirit can speak more freely to the reader without the writer getting in the way. Fiction is harder to write because it has to make sense. Truth does not. And the truth in fiction is the one the reader assigns to it -- it is not that of the writer. Fiction is a personal experience. 

That''s the way I like to write. 

Keep that in mind when you write fiction. Your fiction must make sense even if you are asking your readers to suspend their disbelief. Make it sensible. 

So how do you write award-winning fiction? Follow these few steps and you will find yourself on your way to becoming an award winning fiction wrter: 

1. Write simply -- and write as you speak. Do not affect a voice that is not you -- this bleeds through the writing and gets all over the reader. They do not like it. It is messy and sticky. 

2. Start with topics you know -- even in fiction -- it is more real that way. 

3. Leave the Litter-A-Chure at the door -- Talk to your readers, do not try to impress them with your vocabulary. Otherwise you are just masturbating on the page in public. No one wants to watch. Trust me. 

4. Open a vein -- Lawrence Block said that and he is correct. Write from your heart, not your head. 

5. A good yarn goes a long way -- and remember it is SHOW them not TELL them. 

6. Writer''s write -- Find a way to write every day. EVERY DAY! One author wrote a mere hour a day and created more than 50 novels doing just that. 

7. Create dialogue that is real -- there is nothing worse than stilted dialogue. Write like people talk. If you need help, go to the mall and sit where you can hear people talk, record their conversations on paper to get a "feel" for dialogue. 

8. Develop a perspective and stick to it. Unless you are really good, stick with one perspective, tell the story from one point of view. 

9. Leave out the boring stuff -- If it does not further the story - do not put it in. 

The bottom line is that when you write, write in a manner that keeps the reader turning the page. Draw them in -- make them want to find out how it ends. Even if they do not like the ending -- if you write well enough, they will read it cover to cover. They may say "I hate that book.," of "what a stupid ending," or "I cudda done better." 

But they read it and felt something about it. And to me -- that is what it is all about anyway. 

Getting your readers to feel. 

I was so stoked when I recently received this unsolicited review of my book, "...this book must be read by millions..." 

I always thought that myself -- not because of some egoistic need, but because this little novella really has healing within it -- fiction story and all. When I wrote it, it was more like I channeled it -- I watched a movie and tried in the best manner possible to describe what I was seeing.

But then many authors have shared with me that''s the way it works for them as well. Books really do come out of the ether and have a life all their own. If the energy feels right to you, and you''d like to read more, check out the Squidoo page Award Winning Fiction or hop on over to the Book''s website and read the first chapters for free www.ChangingPlanes.net

Copyright (c) 2010 Free Online Library

Crystal Ball... (continued)

We spin yarn from a ball of material, so the image is apt. Starting with details, a thread continues out from the ball and it is connected to whatever came before. This is perfect for a story told in actual sequence, with no jumps in place, time, or concept. Many short stories fall into this category.

However, as we all realize, while life itself may spin out sequentially, daily events are often disconnected from a logical chain of daily events. In fact, occurrences in place and time often work against whatever came before.

Thus, especially in  novels, the “spinning yarn” notion has to be set aside. Instead I like to think of a crystal. You (the author) can hold a crystal in your hand or mind, rotate it in any direction, and study its startling variety of facets. Each face of the crystal reveals part of the light or image reflected within.

Applying this to fiction, the author might start with a character’s description and then rotate the crystal slightly to reflect two or three images from the past which clearly illustrate the character’s background and motivations.

Rotating the crystal even further might place the character in a situation involving another character or characters, each of which are reflected in other, related, facets. For further developments, the writer may consult still more facets, characters, situations, and so on.
The beauty is that the author chooses what the crystal’s facets reflect, but can’t ignore that they relate to other aspects of the same crystal. Even though the writer is freed from the sequential nature of a “yarn,” she or he can view the novel as a dynamic, free flowing entity in which actions and facts relate to each other in dynamic ways and the entire process is in the writer’s control as long as relationships among the facets are preserved.
So give crystal writing a try. And have a ball while you’re at it!


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Publishing New Writers,

February, 2012 (no. 1302)


Dr. Bruce L. Cook
6086 Dunes Dr,
Sanford, NC 27332

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