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Writing Assignment: Characterization.....

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 author-me.com.

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 section.

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 luck!





Internet Helps for New Writers

If 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.

Here are some examples. Read them over. Chose one or more. The choice is yours!

1.        Hide all manuscripts in a box upstairs. Someday your publisher will come.

2.        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.

3.        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.

4.        Locate a writer friendly website and publish the whole enchilada. Ask for feedback, as before.

5.        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.

6.        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.

Whatever 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.

Where 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 Writers’ Resources.

E-Book Update........................

New developments continue to invigorate the fledgling e-book industry.

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 publicity.

 So, 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 cookcomm@gte.net. Links are welcome.


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