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March, 2016

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In this issue... The Writer's Thumbprint


The Writer's Thumbprint

by Bruce L. Cook

When you write fiction, what will your readers remember?. ... (continued below)










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When you write fiction, what will your readers remember?

Will you simply take a day in your life and describe it? If you so love your prose, that might be fulfilling, and perhaps the reader can use the account to glean useful wisdom or simply experience a moment of nostalgia or the euphoria of arm-chair travel. This can happen, for example in a 1957 character short story like “I Stand Here Ironing” by Tillie Olsen, or when reading stream-of-consciousness like Katherine Anne Porter’s ”The Cracked Looking-Glass,” from 1933.

However, depending on your view of the reader’s importance in your work, you could take the trouble of selecting a character, background or situation that might somehow improve the reader’s life or outlook.  But this brings to mind the abundance of nonfiction self-help writings that populate so many shelves in bookstores.
Still more difficult, the writer might construct a story plan, providing conflict, problems, and resolution to bring home a socially significant truth. This is the most demanding task is putting a “hook” into imagination and, from that point, constructing the plan.

For example, a writer may want to write a story about a boy and his dog – Walt Disney’s old favorite (for example his film Shaggy Dog, 1959). Those characters can be the hook, for an attractive subject can bring readers. However, from that point the writer needs to decide what the story will prove about the boy, the boy’s relationship or his dog, or social or environmental impact on the boy and his dog. (Of course, there are other options.)

Once that decision is made, the writer needs to begin with a scene and move along, placing more and more problems in the way of the boy, and finally have him succeed or fail in his relationship to other elements.
Here, to me, lies the actual thumbprint of the writer. Here is the writer’s experience, which comes to bear on the scenes. Experience is the best guide. (In cases where experience is lacking, I’ve even found myself forming a story on daily life events, actually plugging situations and thoughts in when they relate to the plot.) Otherwise, a stream-of-consciousness effect might result, and the purpose of the story would disappear.

When the boy, dog, and events motivate actions in the story, there comes a time when everything needs to end. This can be the most difficult time of all because the writer has to unite all the threads he or she has already woven.

The writer shows respect for the reader when he or she goes to the trouble to construct such a narrative. Further, when discovering that the story is worthwhile, readers can develop loyalty and respect for the writer.

Such is the true thumbprint of fiction writing.

Bruce Cook


Humanity´s existence is on peril. Its worst enemy is not only violence, war or terrorism, but also a profound lack of love, sensibility and empathy. A complete change for all of us is possible, but only will arrive from an innovative thought and a serious research on the possible ways out. 

The solution to our problem hides in this book…Let us find the cure to this severe illness that is causing the decadence and perhaps death of our blue planet Earth. 




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Publishing New Writers,

March 2016 (no. 1703)


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

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