The Long and Thoreau of It

#EAquote

 

“Not that the story need[s] be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.”

– Henry David Thoreau

 

Describe In Short

[found on io9.com; by CHARLIE JANE ANDERS]

“World-building should be quick and merciless.

In a novel, you can spend ten pages explaining how the 29th Galactic Congress established a Peacekeeping Force to regulate the use of interstitial jumpgates, and this Peacekeeping Force evolved over the course of a century to include A.I.s in its command structure, etc. etc.

In a short story, you really need to hang your scenery as fast as possible. My friend and mentor d.g.k. goldberg always cited the Heinlein line: “The door dilated,” which tells you a lot about the surroundings in three words. Little oblique references to stuff your characters take for granted can go a long way.

Make us believe there’s a world beyond your characters’ surroundings.

Even though you can’t spend tons of time on world-building, you have to include enough little touches to make us believe there’s stuff we’re not seeing. It’s like the difference between the fake house-fronts in a cowboy movie and actual houses. We should glimpse little bits of your universe, that don’t necessarily relate to your characters’ obsessions.”

For more writing tips from Charlie Jane Anders, click here.

[found on http://io9.com/366707/8-unstoppable-rules-for-writing-killer-short-stories]

The Art of Conflict

[found on huffingtonpost.com; by Writer’s Relief Staff]

“Learn the art of conflict. Creating a powerful conflict and weaving it tightly throughout the story is a tricky thing to master, and can take years of practice. The catharsis that a reader will experience at the resolution, however, is worth the struggle. Conflict is what makes us interested in outcome. And your conflict must affect your characters in a way that forces them to act and grow as a result. A story with a weak conflict that leaves the characters exactly as they were at the start won’t be satisfying; your story won’t make a lasting impression.

Here’s a tip: The best way to learn how to write conflict is by reading it. The next time you’re reading a short story or novel, take note of how the author presents the main conflict and the specific ways in which the characters react to it.”

[found on http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/27/writing-tips-advice-fiction-authors_n_1628537.html]

Exercise Your Writing Muscles

[found on writingforward.com; by Melissa Donovan]

“A compelling story speaks to us much the same way that music does, communicating thoughts, feelings, and ideas in ways that go beyond concrete language.

The result?

A click takes place within the psyche. When you hear a song or read a story that resonates in this manner, you connect with it on a deep level. It almost feels like the author or songwriter was speaking for you, about you, or to you.

Some say that truly great art communicates directly with the subconscious. That’s why the arts coexist so naturally. Where you find a buzzing music scene, you can be sure a booming literary crowd is nearby. And where filmmakers toil with scripts and cameras, you can bet dancers aren’t too far off.

Creativity breeds creativity and we are like magnets, drawn not just into our own passion, but those that complement and support our passions. Music, film, and art all enrich and inform one another. So do the musicians, filmmakers, artists, and of course, writers.

Fiction Writing Exercises

Some people say that everything has been written, every story told. But that’s not true. There’s always another angle, a different perspective that can be taken. And writers have all the tools they need to grab that perspective and run with it. You just need a starting point, and these fiction writing exercisescan help you find it. Try starting with a song.

Before you get started, here are a couple of tips to help you work through these exercises:

    • Make sure you aren’t familiar with the song’s video or that you don’t rewrite the video treatment.
    • Pick a song you like, something you can tolerate listening to several times over. In fact the more you enjoy the song, the greater the chance you’ll have fun with this experiment.

Exercise 1: A Story for a Song

Some of the greatest stories of all time have been told through song. Remember Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee?” John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane?” What about Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff?” Each of these songs tells a clear and distinct story.

Choose a song that tells a clear story and write the story behind it. This is kind of like traveling backward and trying to find those one thousand words that represent the value of a picture.

Exercise 2: Ambiguous Tales

On the flip side, we have ambiguous lyrics, like “Hotel California,” by the Eagles or “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M. Tunes like these have inspired lively debates that ask, what are these songs about, anyway? And if we don’t know what the songs are about, why do they succeed at speaking to us? How do they become enormous hits that cross genre lines?

Choose a song that tells a vague story and write about what really happened. Your goal is to take a hazy story and make it clear.

Exercise 3: Who Needs Lyrics?

This is the biggest challenge of all: choose a piece of instrumental music (with no lyrics) and find the story in the melody, harmony, and rhythm.

Music and Fiction Writing Exercises

Throughout history, great artists have collaborated and mixed mediums and media to come up with fresh takes on ancient truths. These fiction writing exercises provide a new source for inspiration, get you working in collaboration with other artists (musicians), and give you creative license to put a new spin on something that’s been around for a while.

You can write a paragraph, a few pages, or an entire novel. You could also write a script for film or stage. If you’re strapped for time, just write an outline or a few character sketches. And if you don’t feel like writing it down, just work it out in your head. Find the connection between music and storytelling and let it capture your imagination.”

For more great information on writing and exercises by WritingForward.com, click HERE.

[found on http://www.writingforward.com/writing_exercises/fiction-writing-exercises/fiction-writing-exercises-story-for-a-song]

Perfect Horror Short Story? Yes, please.

[found on fecklessgoblin.blogspot.com]
    1. Pick something that could happen to your reader.
    2. Pick a location that’s familiar to your reader.
    3. Eat, drink, sleep the horror that you have created before you actually begin to write. Lie back in a darkened room and really visualise it. Scare the pants off yourself.
    4. Go to your location or one that looks like it and sit there quietly for a while. If your story takes place on a quiet street in the early hours, find one, get up in the early hours and drink it up. Take a pad and write down some notes about what you see and how you feel.
    5. Try to see the story from three or four different views even if they won’t be in the final version. Choose someone timid, someone thick skinned, someone religious. The choice is yours.
    6. Take your time, build up the pressure, slowly but surely. This may be a short horror story but you’ve got more time than you think to lay out your stall.
    7. Stay focussed. Don’t get bogged down in back story. In fact, try giving back story a miss altogether.
    8. Anticipation is nine tenths of the horror story battle – let your reader know something bad is going to happen, lead them there by the hand.
    9. Dig deep into that horror. Choose one that scares you. If it doesn’t scare you, how do you expect it to scare the hell out of your dear reader?
    10. Throw a few red herrings in there, twist them on their heads. The old cat jumping out of the fridge is a bit of cliché but you get my drift.
    11. If you’re scared of heights, go and stand on the edge of a tall building and lean over, if you’ve got a spider phobia, go and put one on the palm of your hand. Remind yourself how real fear feels.
    12. Don’t overload your reader with gore. It becomes boring and they quickly attain sensitisation. A splash of blood here and there will do fine.
    13. Don’t over describe. You’re not Dickens. Give your reader some credit that they can imagine your ultimate horror. Don’t be afraid that they won’t get the point.
    14. Keep the monster/horror hidden for as long as possible.
    15. Read the best and the worst of horror. Reread the passages that got your heart racing and try to see how the author did it. Look at the way you reacted and imagine that’s what you want your reader to feel.
    16. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different styles. Write a couple of different versions of your story to see how it comes out.
    17. Leave your first draft for a decent amount of time so that you come back to it fresh. For some people that’s a couple of days. For others it’s a couple of months.
    18. Always, always read your draft through once without touching it before you sit down to edit.
    19. Check you have the right vocabulary to scare. Choose the words to describe your fear with care. Make sure they fit and sound right. Try not to use unusual words that your reader won’t readily know the meaning to. It will break the flow. You’re trying to build fear not a larger vocab.
    20. Don’t forget that your story isn’t written in stone. It can change. It can evolve. It can be totally different from the original. Don’t be afraid to delete stuff that doesn’t belong.

A Fiction-Lover’s Devotional

Deadline for this is VERY soon. Check it out.

Casual Elegance story callout

Modern-Day Parables: 
A Fiction-Lover’s Devotional

Deadline: September 1, 2013
Submissions should be sent to: Kathy Ide
 
 

“Kathy Ide is putting together a compilation of short fictional stories accompanied by Life Applications to help readers glean scriptural truths from the stories—similar to the format Jesus used when He told parables and then explained to His listeners how the stories applied to their everyday lives.

A major mainstream publisher has expressed serious interest in this book (and potential series). After seeing the proposal with some sample chapters, they have requested a complete manuscript as soon as possible. So the deadline for submissions to Kathy is September 1, 2013.

Contributing authors will receive an honorarium ($25) and a complimentary copy of the published book. Contributors should be able to purchase additional copies at author discount for sale or give-away. Bios of contributing authors will be featured at the end of each chapter. Titles of recently published works and website addresses can be included in the bio. So this devotional compilation will be an excellent opportunity for new readers to discover you and your books.

Guidelines

FORMAT

    • Title: something catchy that relates to the topic
    • Byline as you want it to appear
    • Fiction Story: 1,500-2,000 words
    • Life Application: 250-500 words giving truth, teaching, and inspiration related to the story
    • Scripture verse that applies to the story (Include reference and version used)
    • Author’s Bio: 50-100 words
    • Plus or minus a few words is perfectly acceptable. Subject to change at publisher’s discretion.
    • Double space, 12-point Times New Roman.
    • In the upper-left corner of the first page, please include your name, address, phone number, and e-mail.
    • In the upper-right corner of the first page, please indicate the theme/topic of your story.
    • Feel free to submit multiple stories.

TIPS

    • Short stories must be FICTION. No true stories (not even fictionalized true stories).
    • Third person is preferable. (First person tends to have the feel of a true story.)
    • Contemporary settings are preferred. Near-past or near-future will be considered.
    • The publisher is very conservative, so the submission content should be too. (Think “Upper Room.”)
    • Since I am a professional editor, I will most likely edit your submission. You need to be OK with that.
    • If you have a fictional story with Life Application based on a Bible character, please let me know as I’m doing a project similar to this one, using biblical fiction, for a different publisher.

If you’d like to see some sample stories to get an idea of what Kathy looking for, let her know (at the email address below). She’ll be happy to e-mail a couple to you.

E-MAIL SUBMISSIONS TO Kathy Ide (Kathy@KathyIde.com)

Please write “Modern-Day Parables” in the subject line.”