How Not to be Boring. Prof. Kurt Vonnegut's Delightful Term Paper Assignment from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop: How to Read Fiction Like a Writer: Image by Daniele Prati, via Flickr Commons I wish I’d had a teacher who framed his or her assignments as letters… Which is really just another way of saying I wish I’d been lucky enough to have taken a class with writers Kurt Vonnegut or Lynda Barry.
There’s still hope of a class with Barry, aka Professor Chewbacca, Professor Old Skull, and most recently, Professor Drogo. Those of us who can’t get a seat at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, the Omega Institute, or the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop can play along at home, using assignments she generously makes available in her books and on her Near-Sighted Monkey Tumblr.
Funny-chart-synonyms-words-fear-anger.jpg (426×487) Colson Whitehead’s Rules for Writing. Seven Tips From Ernest Hemingway on How to Write Fiction. Image by Lloyd Arnold via Wikimedia Commons Before he was a big game hunter, before he was a deep-sea fisherman, Ernest Hemingway was a craftsman who would rise very early in the morning and write.
His best stories are masterpieces of the modern era, and his prose style is one of the most influential of the 20th century. Hemingway never wrote a treatise on the art of writing fiction. He did, however, leave behind a great many passages in letters, articles and books with opinions and advice on writing. Some of the best of those were assembled in 1984 by Larry W. 1: To get started, write one true sentence.
Hemingway had a simple trick for overcoming writer’s block. Sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. 2: Always stop for the day while you still know what will happen next. Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling « Aerogramme Writers' Studio. These rules were originally tweeted by Emma Coats, Pixar’s Story Artist.
Number 9 on the list – When you’re stuck, make a list of what wouldn’t happen next – is a great one and can apply to writers in all genres. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. George Orwell: Politics and the English Language.
Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it.
Our civilization is decadent and our language — so the argument runs — must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes. Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. 1. 2. The 10 Types of Writers' Block (and How to Overcome Them)
As soon as someone delivers a definition, some good writer will write a story that proves the theory wrong. About the only thing we can say for sure is that short stories are short and that they are written in what we call prose. Some attributes, however, seem to show up more often than not. Short stories have a narrator; that is, someone tells the story; have at least one character in them; have some action occur (or perhaps fails to occur); take place somewhere; that is, there is a setting for the action; and someone either learns something or fails to learn something (theme).With these five characteristics in mind, we can create an almost endless supply of exercises to help sharpen our techniques of story telling. Narrative Voice Twenty or so years ago, voice was the "rite of passage" into a successful writing career. If you've written a story in third person, try it in first.
Take an adjective (implacable) or a verb (calibrate) or even another noun (crony) and add a suffix like ity, tion or ism. You’ve created a new noun: implacability, calibration, cronyism. Sounds impressive, right? Nouns formed from other parts of speech are called nominalizations. Academics love them; so do lawyers, bureaucrats and business writers. The proliferation of nominalizations in a discursive formation may be an indication of a tendency toward pomposity and abstraction. The sentence above contains no fewer than seven nominalizations, each formed from a verb or an adjective.
Writers who overload their sentences with nominalizations tend to sound pompous and abstract. Only one zombie noun – the key word nominalizations – has been allowed to remain standing. At their best, nominalizations help us express complex ideas: perception, intelligence, epistemology. Elena Giavaldi Most major scientific theories rebuff common sense. Periodic Table of Storytelling.