This month’s Writing Assignment article is the third in a series of
how-to-write-fiction exercises designed to help new writers become more
familiar with fiction writing. The first Writing Assignment focused on
characterization. The second focused on setting. While character is central
to a story, the writer must also pay close attention to context. In the
third, now that you had created a character and setting, you were asked to
meld the two.
This month you are asked to create a second character, using the same or
another setting. Create a unique character, being careful that your
characters are not simply mirror images of yourself! Think of the character
carefully, visualizing him or her. This should be a character you care about
- either positive or negative. For you will embark on a long adventure with
them, and may eventually find you care as much for them as you care for some
Sound crazy to you? Do you see yourself as a writing wizard who can call
upon an unlimited cast of characters who will do your bidding regardless of
meaning? Think again. If that's all you care about your characters, guess
how much your readers will care? Less, not more.
Assignment--For Next Month
So your assignment is to create a second character. Keep in mind that
this character will interact with the character you already created. Have
some idea where the two characters' goals and/or principles may
interact--meshing or mashing. But just an idea. This important thing now is
to create the second character.
To do this, write a few pages in which you introduce the second character
for the first time. As before, we will respond to your exercise with a
Note: When done, you will have two characters and a setting, ready for
interaction, character development, and story development. The idea is to
have integrity and consistency in character and setting. Once you let the
story continue against this strong foundation, the result will have greater depth
and meaning than if you simply wrote an outline and slavishly created
elements to serve it.
The characters, the setting, and a naturally progressing story line.
These are the most important first elements for your fiction piece.
More next week.
Gone are the days when Josephine could publish in Little Women with the main problem of choosing whether to
write what the publisher wanted to hear. Today is a day where publishers
reward non-talented writers like Hillary and others, leaving the raw
talent of aspiring writers to grovel in the dust.
However, chin up! You can succeed through a great deal of hard work and
a willingness to provide what the publisher needs to evaluate your work.
But don't expect the publisher to hold your hand. The publisher will
reject and reject until you get it right. Or until you can claim as much
notoriety as Hillary!
You impress the book publisher when you...
1. Send a query letter introducing the manuscript in terms of the
publisher’s existing list, books in the market, expected market share
2. Send an author’s biography describing a successful career in
publishing. Your list should include one or two novels and several
successful listings in major market magazines. Alternatively, nonfiction
titles will also build credibility.
3. Send a synopsis, outline, and/or sample chapter of the work. (Do not
send the whole enchilada. Be patient. You have to be asked for this.)
4. Feel wealthy? Want a publisher to buy the work (and not to have a
"vanity" publication)? Seek an agent. See the standard works in
the reference section of your local, school or college/university library.
Or try an Internet resource like www.literaryagent.com to select one. But
gone are the days when the agent pays you. Plan for some fees. Big
Visit Emily Vander Veer's Writing for the Web. It's a clean website
with sensitive advice for new writers. Emily has a great newsletter, too.
Writing for the Web:
Back in Time!...
Check out our new all - immersion Life of Jesus (Part 1) from David C.
Cook III. Visit...
Visit our sister websites...
E-book - much talk and few sales in the year 2000. That's the bleak
assessment from David D. Kirkpatrick in "Publishing Trends Go Beyond
E-Books," New York Times on the Web, December 18, 2000.
Interestingly, Kirkpatrick isolates another development in physical
book printing that will have immediate impact - Print-on-Demand. This
technology makes it possible to do short print runs of books at a
reasonable cost. This will have an impact on writer-produced books, but
remember - this is vanity publishing unless you have provided a means to
market your books.
It's encouraging that the Random House Unit of Bertelsmann created a
new imprint this year to permit publication of new books by new fiction
authors, etc., using print-on-demand editions. Would that more publishers
seize this momentum.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
As a new medium, the Internet has not yet brought its advantages to the
consumer. As a new delivery system, there is no real business model that
brings content to consumers at a profit. (Mark Elliott, Sr. VP Marketing
& Strategy, Radio One 2 One, Letter to editor, The Industry Standard,
Dec 25, 2000, pp. 24-25.)
Sure, Stephen King has us reading a story on a screen, but no one else
– not even Microsoft – could separate us from that old standby, paper
and ink. Is the world ready for a multimedia Dickens? (Ari Weinberg, “Winners
Losers,” The Industry Standard, Dec 25, 00, p. 96.)
Publishing New Writers, January, 2001 (no.201)
Editor Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL
60118. Fax (847) 428-8974.
Submissions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Links are welcome.