This month’s Writing Assignment article is the first
in a series of how-to-write-fiction exercises designed to help new writers
become more familiar with fiction writing.
For this month, please consult our “Character
Vignettes” on the title page. Take a hint from one of our best writers,
Simon Marshland, who submitted a few vignettes for publication on
What’s the point? Characterization is the point. In
fiction writing, one of the most important elements is characterization.
Ideally, a story is written by creating characters,
dropping them into a setting, devising a relevant point of conflcit, and
then letting them interact until the problem is solved. While not all
fiction writing follows this track, the procedure will allow you to create
more believable characters and settings. Furthermore, it should help your
people stay in character with more consistency. You story line will progress
in a natural way.
How are stories usually written?. The writer decides to
write a story on a topic. Then
the writer devises several negative a story, creates a character to fit it,
and comes up with a suitable setting. As
you might imagine, this approach leaves the writing project wide open for
inconsistencies in setting, characterization, and other important qualities.
Assignment – For Next Month
So your assignment is to create at least one character
vignette before the end of the month. In return, you will receive a critique
and your vignette will be considered for listing in our Character Vignettes
As an added feature, you will receive further
assignments to help you practice this form of writing and, hopefully, to
sharpen your writing skills. Good
Helps for New Writers
you’re a new writer, you may feel bewildered at the new opportunities
you see. If you’d had a Rip Van Winkle sleep for 20 years, you literally
wouldn’t recognize what’s going on.
are some examples. Read them over. Chose one or more. The choice is yours!
Hide all manuscripts in a box upstairs. Someday your publisher will
Advertise your work in the classified ads, or even put it on
auction. But first, a time-honored trip to Kinko’s or another copy shop
to get 100 copies printed and bound.
Find a writer-friendly website and post an excerpt. One chapter or
so. And ask readers to send comments. If you ask for specific feedback
topics, you will receive more comments.
Locate a writer friendly website and publish the whole enchilada.
Ask for feedback, as before.
Find a website willing to publish your work as an e-book. Then make
the e-book available on that site, on others, or via auction and
classified ad sites at a moderate cost.
Publish the e-book and give away free downloads. This way you can
share your work with more people than you would with the traditional
publishers’ manuscript rejection notes.
you do, we believe it’s best to protect your work with a notice or the
words “Author retains all rights under the 1976 Copyright Act.
to look for writer-friendly sites? One useful listing is at dmoz.org (the
Open Directory Project). Click on Arts, then On-line Writing and then
New developments continue to invigorate the fledgling
Andersen Consulting’s predictions of vast growth
remain (a $2.3 billion market by 2005). Also, the Glassbook Reader we
mentioned last month has been purchased by its competitor, Adobe, Inc.
(which, as we hinted last month, was only fair play).
However, more measured forecasts are emerging, along
with a valuable ZD Net story suggesting that the immediate growth in
e-book will lie in college dormitories. College textbooks and custom
offerings from the bearded ones. See
Meanwhile, let’s not forget that less known market,
the emerging writers. We’re here, present and accounted for, and we need
to take advantage of the e-book market right away. Because we, like those
well-paid professors with the beards, can’t afford print runs and
until our writing careers blossom (with that treasured offer from a real
publisher), we have serious new tools at our disposal. The e-book, to
contain our writings. And the Internet, with its many writer-friendly
websites which will list our titles for free.
Publishing New Writers, October, 2000 (no.104)
Editor Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL
60118. Fax (847) 428-8974.
Submissions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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