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January, 2017

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In this issue... No Surprises in Fiction


No Surprises in Fiction

by Bruce L. Cook

“ While writing fiction I never “revise as I go” by revising grammar and expression as I pen the first draft. However, I am meticulous when it comes to “No Surprises”.... (continued below)










No Surprises (continued)... (continued)

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No Surprises (continued)

By Bruce L. Cook

While writing fiction I never “revise as I go” by revising grammar and expression as I pen the first draft. However, I am meticulous when it comes to “No Surprises”.

What’s this all about? Think of the military general talking to a younger officer, giving basic guidance so the young recruit knows exactly what the general expects. “No surprises,” says the senior officer. “I don’t care what you do, but I do care about one thing - I want no surprises!”

In practical terms, this means that any time the young leader’s unit screws up, the general wants to know immediately so the general can prepare an explanation for the future when other leaders will call the general himself on the carpet about the problem.

In fiction, the reader is like a general. Any significant detail that arises during the story needs to have an antecedent in which the detail is introduced.

For example, when the protagonist pulls a flashlight from his pack in the dark of the night, a meticulous writer will have already mentioned the flashlight earlier in the story. And, if the flashlight is to become especially instrumental in resolving a problem in the story, it would be good to have a vivid mention of the object early in the story.

Here is an example:

“Wilson rushed from the room, grabbing his backpack as he gazed out the doorway with trepidation. It was pitch dark already, and he had the entire 5-mile trek ahead of him. Why or why, he asked himself. Why did I allow myself to sleep so long?

Pulling the oak door open, he stepped into the night, feeling his way down the well-worn path to his shelter. Rushing, he tripped on a small rock and regained his balance. Looking ahead, he saw nothing but darkness and he resolved to stop and adjust his eyes to the black night. He felt in his back for his new flashlight with four D size batteries but it was not there. Gritting his teeth, he rushed back to the shelter to fetch it.

Against this backdrop. The reader is fully prepared for Wilson to extract the flashlight as a weapon later in the story.

True, it would be enough to just mention that he had a flashlight when the object was needed. However, in well-crafted fiction, the reader is always prepared. That’s because the writer, like the general, has prepared him for … “No surpises!”

- Bruce L. Cook

Strategies for Peace, by Bruce L. Cook and Maria Cristina Azcona (eds.)

Print: $19.99

BRUCE L. COOK AND MARIA CRISTINA AZCONA - Full Index. I join Maria Cristina Azcona in offering this collection of viewpoints on peace making. She and I joined Ernest Kahan in 2014 to establish the Worldwide Peace Organization in Argentina. Here we identify a startling variety of facets on the crystal which represents peace. Virtually everyone claims to want world peace. Only a few take measures to promote it. Each writer who seeks peace suggests a unique dimension. It's our hope that this volume will encourage students, professors, and peacemakers to consider this comprehensive look at ten strategy perspectives which, if taken seriously in private and public life, might lead to our shared objective - worldwide peace in our time. * Leadership * Language and Leadership * Interspiritual * World Citizenship * Family Relations * Role of Women * Education * Medical Actions * The Arts * Conflict Resolution


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Publishing New Writers,

January 2017 (no. 1801)


Dr. Bruce L. Cook
1407 Getzelman Drive
Elgin, IL 60123

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