Accept Yourself

Writer's block is what you get if you're too full of yourself and trying to be Garc a M rquez. You sit and stare at the wall and nothing happens for you. It's like imagining you're a tree and trying to sprout leaves. Once you come to your senses and accept who you are, then there's no problem. I'm not Garc a M rquez. I'm a late-middle-aged midlist fair-to-middling writer with a comfortable midriff, and it gives me quite a bit of pleasure. I remember sitting in a meeting with graduate faculty...

Criticism

Some folks find criticism easier than praise and others find the latter a more comfortable response. Either extreme is fairly useless. When you put your work into the hands of a reader, make sure that reader is someone you trust to read your work fairly and critically. And don't give your work to a reader if you want only praise. Wait until you are ready for an honest appraisal. On the other hand, you may feel as if you are not ready for others to see your work out of insecurity. Maybe you need...

Detective Fiction

Mystery and crime fiction are working genres. That is, unlike other fictional people, characters in crime fiction usually have jobs. The mystery depends on it. Obviously, detectives have been primary characters in crime fiction for years hence, the label, detective fiction. These days, mystery solvers in crime fiction can be forensic scientists, crime scene specialists, housekeepers, or former criminals. Their occupations provide their relationship to crime. For this reason, unlike the robotic...

Directories and Guides to Marketing and Publishing

A Directory of American Poets and Fiction Writers, Poets and Writers (available in print and on-line) CLMP Directory of Literary Magazines and Presses, 21st Edition, Conference of Literary Magazines and Presses Directory of Literary Magazines, Asphodel Press Get Your First Book Published, Career Press The In ternational Directory of Little Magazines and Small Presses, Dustbooks Literary Marketplace, Bowker Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write, Blue Heron Publishing Writer's Market...

Fear

Writer's block is like lawyer's block or housekeeper's block. It is based in fear and uncertainty. If you are alive in the world and paying attention, you know that fear and uncertainty are inevitable aspects of everyday life. The choice is whether to succomb to the fear or write through it. I suggest that you acknowledge the reasons for your block, the fears that stymy your writing, and then write through them. Eventually, it does not really matter why you are not writing. Not writing has an...

Finding the Truth

Other chapters in this guide will discuss elements of narrative you can use to craft a short story. This chapter focuses on the importance of finding the truth of your own story in order to write effective fiction. If you let yourself write through to that truth, you find your integrity as a writer. You can bring that integrity to fiction, creating worlds that readers recognize because they speak to something true to their own human understanding. You may have hundreds of plot lines mapped in...

Follow Through

Writing is not a path for the fainthearted. It takes a certain fortitude to occupy the solitude creative writing requires. It takes another kind of fortitude to weather the publishing game. Don't give up. Your manuscripts will be rejected. You will feel disappointed, sometimes miserably. You choose how to use that feeling as an excuse to quit or motivation to try again. If it makes you feel better, write a nasty response letter to the editor who rejected your submission don't send it Then move...

Genre Fiction

Anything you dream is fiction, and anything you accomplish is science, the whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction. Creative Fantasy is founded upon the hard recognition that things are so in the world as it appears under the sun on a recognition of fact, but not a slavery to it. When I examine myself and my methods of thought I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing knowledge.

Get Out There Publish

This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don't consider it rejected. Consider that you've addressed it to the editor who can appreciate my work and it has simply come back stamped Not at this address. Just keep looking for the right address. A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor. I submitted my...

Get Ready Wander the Internet

When you are ready to get out there, several options are available. I suggest you explore the Web. There are many on-line databases that can provide you with information about all aspects of publishing. I have listed a few in the resource section at the end of this book (page 159). You can find information and resources about literary agents, journals, magazines, and publishers. Of course, you now have the opportunity to publish on-line. Many literary journals and magazines have on-line...

Hate and Love Mystery and Romance

When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand. When I was in junior high, I consumed Agatha Christie novels. I went on to the Nero Wolfe detective novel series and later discovered Walter Moseley. I love crime fiction and binge on it occasionally, consuming three or four books by a favorite mystery writer. I say binge because that is what it feels like when you find a good crime writer. It's like finding a good clair you go back to the same bakery because you know what...

Journal Time

Keep a record of your revision process. Write about your patterns and your feelings of resistance. Examine why you resist revision or sketch out your plans for the rewrite. Samuel Johnson is often quoted as saying, Read over your compositions, and wherever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out. William Faulkner said it more succinctly Kill your darlings. This is one of the more painful aspects of revision but in its brutality, one of the most effective....

Journals

Start your daily writing practice by finding a journal. I suggest a sturdy, standard-sized notebook that opens flat. Choose a journal you can carry with you. Carry it Take it with you to the coffee shop on Saturday afternoon, to class on Monday, to work, on the bus, on the metro, on a plane. Carry it with you everywhere. Look around you listen. Take notes. Record ideas. Pick up your pen instead of the newspaper. Get into the habit of writing at least one page a day. Many chapters in this guide...

Literary Magazines Journals

As I've mentioned, there are several magazines that publish short fiction. Refer to the Writing Resources section (page 159) for specific titles. Note that literary journals are often published by university presses and have a much smaller circulation and budget than slick magazines. If you write within a specific genre, you should seek out magazines and journals that specialize in your genre. There are large commercial magazines such as The Atlantic and Playboy that publish fiction. The Sun is...

Look Again

If I get to page three or four and the material hasn't shown me the way, I don't revise, I throw it out. I don't recognize any process called revision. Such is based on the notion that the inspired product is the real poem and that revision is when the conscious mind tinkers with it. Except in the smallest ways, revision doesn't exist. I simply work on poems a long time. Not all writers perform extensive revision, as the quotes above suggest. Some craft their...

Look Again Revision

I have rewritten often several times every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers. Books aren't written they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it. The pleasure is the rewriting The first sentence cannot be written until the final sentence is written. This is a koan-like statement, and I don't mean to sound needlessly obscure or mysterious, but it's simply true. The completion...

More Rewriting Hints

Go back to your last completed exercise or narrative. Read through it. Cross out your darling lines and passages. Revise. Read it again. What changes with the omission of those precious lines or passages Killing your darlings is not easy. And sometimes, your darlings really are great sentences. Think of shelving them if you cannot let them go. While that line about persimmons may need to be cut from this narrative, it might be perfect for another piece. Keep a list of sacrificed darlings, the...

Physical Space

Physical space is clearly an important element of a story's setting. So is movement through that space. Writing movement and the passage of time can be challenging, particularly if you are writing a novel or long narrative. Shifting scenes from a character's dialogue to action can puzzle even an experienced writer. However, there are several identifiable techniques for writing time and space. Often, a writer employs these techniques so well that as readers, we don't recognize the shifts as...

Reading Hints

Sometimes the best way to get out of a block is to remind yourself why you started writing in the first place. Pick up your favorite writer and indulge in a day of reading. Don't give yourself a hard time about not writing. Let yourself read. Another reason that writers resist the act of writing can be the writing itself. In earlier chapters, we discussed writing through the difficult truths of our stories. Often, what compels you to write is inextricable from your own story. That is, you will...

Reading Practice

Choose one of the writers from any of the historical periods I have discussed. Read a selection of his or her work. Choose a writer from a different period and compare the writers' narrative strategies. History reveals that the novel, like any art form, is a product of its context. Novels reflect the specific historical moment in which they were written. You cannot write a Victorian novel in this era of postmodernity. That is not to say that you could not write an effective novel set in...

Rewriting Hints

Take your pen and cross out every unnecessary word in your story. Be brutal. Obviously, you will find articles (a the) and conjunctions (and but or) that can be eliminated. But pay attention to adverbs. Writers often overuse these modifiers when the prose would be crisper with a well-chosen verb. For example, ran quickly could become sprinted. 2. Adjectives are tricky, too. Sometimes they add crucial information or nuance to a sentence. Sometimes they add only clutter. Consider...

Sample Narrative

From the Journals of Lauren Oya Olamina Sunday, September 26, 2032 Today is Arrival Day, the fifth anniversary of our establishing a community called Acorn here in the mountains of Humboldt County. In perverse celebration of this, I've just had one of my recurring nightmares. They've become rare in the past few years old enemies with familiar nasty habits. I know them. They have such soft, easy beginnings. . . . This one was, at first, a visit to the past, a trip home, a chance to spend time...

Sample Student Narrative

After six weeks traveling on the web of railway in India, this time the rocking motion and rhythmic noise of wheels on rail provide no comfort. As I look out of the open barred windows, the yellow-hued landscape only looks barren, not mysterious hills eroding into sand dunes, dried up vegetation, dirt tracks leading to an empty horizon. And yet people, hoards of them, standing along the train tracks in the middle of no where, waiting with huge bundles whose innards strained against brightly...

Science Fiction Speculative Fiction

In 1947 the science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein published an essay in which he coined the term speculative fiction. The term has recently begun to replace science fiction, and to more broadly include horror and fantasy narratives. Some might argue, however, that science fiction remains a different creature than its sister genres. Science fiction operates within specific parameters of physical laws. Even the most fantastic scenarios in science fiction take place within possible...

Shift Perspective

Rewrite your narrative from a different point of view. That is, if the story is told in the first person, rewrite it as told from a third-person limited perspective. This revision process will be more involved than substituting pronouns. With a limited perspective, interiorities are limited. On the other hand, if you wrote from a limited perspective and are shifting to omniscient, you will have to rethink scenes from other characters' perspectives. What else...

Show Up

The first step to getting started in creative writing is showing up. Since you are reading this book, you are making that step. Showing up requires the recognition that writing is a practice. How you practice writing is up to you, but you must practice. The poet Mary Oliver compares regular writing practice to the romance of Romeo and Juliet. The couple's love affair could not evolve if Juliet was not present at her balcony to receive Romeo's courting. Similarly, you have to provide the space...

Some Words On Writers Block

An absolutely necessary part of a writer's equipment, almost as necessary as talent, is the ability to stand up under punishment, both the punishment the world hands out and the punishment he inflicts upon himself. There is a difference between a book of two hundred pages from the very beginning, and a book of two hundred pages which is the result of an original eight hundred pages. The six hundred are there. Only you don't see them. The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you...

The Short Story

The meaning of a story has to be embodied in it, has to be made concrete in it. A story is a way to say something that cannot be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is When anybody asks what a story is about the only proper thing to tell him is to read the story. The meaning of fiction is not abstract meaning but experienced meaning. While short stories tell us things we don't know anything about and this is good of course they should also, and maybe...

The Significance of Events

Creative nonfiction is not always tragic. The catalyst does not have to be a loss or trauma. But certainly, effective nonfiction explores the significance of events, whether personal or collective. Vivian Gornick, along with other New York writers, explored the events of September 11, 2001. The tragedy of 9 11 is staggering, almost incomprehensible. However, Gornick locates her essay on the streets of a New York so strange that she imagines, and stops herself from imagining, that this New York...

The Truth of Lying

If you grew up like most kids in the world, you learned early in life that lying was a bad thing. And yet you may have grown up with Uncle Sherman's fishing stories. Everyone in the family knew he did not really catch a 12-pound bass. The number of trout Uncle Sherman cooked after a fishing trip never accounted for the bounty he claimed to have caught, but the whole family listened to his stories because they were entertaining. Your cousin Tito exaggerates every date embellishing the girl's...

What If

It is true that science fiction emerges from the imagination of specific premises, the imagined responses to what if The elaboration of those premises through compelling characters makes good fiction. Sawyer is quick to observe that characters should not fit their premises too comfortably. Again, a character always will embody some kind of contradiction. Here is where the robot metaphor falters. Our characters' contradictory impulses are not always progammable. And as we have discussed, many...

Women in Romance Writing

One reason may be that romance is a female-dominated genre. In the eighteenth century, the novel offered women, as characters and writers, a way into the literary landscape. In the twenty-first century, women fully occupy the world of romance writing. Some suggest that romance has been denigrated because it characterizes feminine sexuality and desire, something that has been historically uncomfortable for our cultural consciousness. Romance also has been criticized as antifeminist. However,...

Writing as Work

As I grew up, that childlike, intuitive understanding of language and its power grew up with me. Faced with the reality of making a living as a writer, writing became work. My identity, and to some degree, my self-worth, became wrapped up in what I could produce. After I received my degree, writing took the backburner. I had a three-year-old to parent and a husband to support while he finished his education. After a nine-to-five day in front of a computer, the last thing I wanted to do when I...

Writing Conferences

Http webdelsol.com Algonkian Conferences are held throughout the year. http www. aspen writers.org Conference is held in June. http cla rk.col gate, edu cvwritersconference Conference takes place in June. Conferences are held in March, August, and September. http www.sewaneewriters.org Conference is held in July Conference takes place between June and July. http www.underthevolcano.org Six programs per year. Conference is usually scheduled in June. Conference usually takes place in June or...

Writing Practice

This exercise is similar to the Writing Practice exercise on page 17, Chapter 3 (Write Your Story). 1. Think back to a time in your life when you experienced a profound loss. Describe the details of the situation without naming the emotions. If you don't remember names or other details, make them up. 2. Let the story sit for a day or two. 3. Without rereading what you have already written, describe the situation again. This time, name your emotions and use as much sensual, emotive language as...

The Novel A Brief History

The novel predates the short story as a literary form. The word novel, which is derived from the Italian novella, means new and also tidings. (It should be noted that the novella, a short novel, is also a literary form.) Boccaccio's Decameron is again often cited as the form's precursor, as is Cervantes' Don Quixote. But the novel can be traced as far back as ancient Rome with The Golden Ass or The Metamorphoses, written by Apuleius of Madauros in the second century a.d. and Petronius Arbiter's...

Breaking Silence

What is the source of our first suffering It lies in the fact that we hesitated to speak, It was born in the moment when we accumulated silent things within us. Often we are silenced early in life. In first grade, a teacher reprimands you for using the wrong definition of imagination. You learn to speak only if you have the right answer. Your friends mock you when you voice an opinion too far afield of the group's center and you learn to keep your ideas to yourself. Sometimes we are silenced...

Desire

Most primary to a character's development is what you may know as motivation. I prefer to use that now familiar word, desire. Motivation implies a reason and purpose for action. Many writers would agree that a character needs a motive, a purpose, to make a successful story. Within a story, few would argue that some kind of shift must occur. That shift is fueled by motivation. However, a character need not be conscious of his or her motivation and this is why I prefer to use the term desire....

Write Your Story

A wondrous dream, a fantasy incarnate, fiction completes us, mutilated beings burdened with the awful dichotomy of having only one life and the ability to desire a thousand. Fiction links us to our common longings. Mario Vargas Llosa, a Peruvian writer, touches on this phenomenon in the quote above. He identifies the central catalyst for writing narrative in general and fiction particularly desire. Llosa acknowledges the split between reality and the ideal, between what we know of our lives and...

Magazine Guidelines for Submitting Stories

Usually, a magazine will have specific guidelines for submitting your story. They may have a word or page limit or minimum that you should adhere to. Importantly, many publications frown on simultaneously submitted work. For example, if you submit a piece to The Paris Review, the editor will expect that the stoiy is not being submitted to any other publication at the same time. On the other hand, if a magazine does not have a policy against simultaneous submissions, you can submit the same...

Building Blocks

Think of a kid with blocks as a way to overcome writer's block. Maybe you did not write as a child, but you probably played. Maybe you loved to help your mother fold the laundry as much as you liked to jump on the bed. Lisa R. Cohen, on her web site, The Writer's Block 2002 (http www.sff.net people LisaRC ) offers three definitions for block block bl k n 2. A compact, solid piece of substantial material worked for a specific purpose 3. A child's toy, permitting building activities Like any...

Sample Narratives From Famous Authors

The following classic short stories are often anthologized. You may have read one or more of these stories in an English class. Each story illustrates aspects of writing narrative that we have explored in this book. The first story, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, is a haunting account of a man about to be executed that exemplifies a frame story. Paul's Case, by Willa Cather, is an interesting psychological exploration that highlights the influence of psychology as a discipline on fiction...

Creative Nonfiction

I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. Writing is a way of discovering what you don't already know, of clarifying what you don't understand, of preserving what you value, and of sharing your discoveries with other people. We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect. Creative nonfiction is a product of your exciting times. Obviously, writers have produced creative nonfiction essays,...

Freewriting

You may be familiar with the practice of freewriting. It is a useful brainstorming technique used frequently in composition classes. Sometimes the practice is called fastwriting. I prefer freewrite because free more closely suggests the intent of this practice. To freewrite is to write without ceasing, usually for a given period of time. Your pen or pencil should not leave the paper. Neither should you stop to erase or correct. Importantly, you are not bound, in a freewrite, to correct grammar,...

Enlivening Sci Fi Characters

Whether or not you want to think of your characters as robots, you do have the Dr. Frankenstein-like position of enlivening them. While fantasy, as I have suggested, pushes beyond the boundaries of possibility, it also requires a foundation of accepted parameters. For example, if Anne Rice's vampire was suddenly killed by a regular bullet, his death would be out of the realm of the possible in the world Rice has created. Rice has constructed a carefully detailed backstory and mythos for her...

Suspension of Belief

Science fiction requires a suspension of belief on the part of the reader. However, that suspension of a particular belief, say that people cannot fly, must be compensated with a plausible alternative or explanation. That is, you could write a piece of viable science fiction about humans flying if you explained the phenomenon with a reasonable technology or biological adaptation. Again, science fiction operates in the realm of the possible. The famous Star Trek series proposes some fantastic...

Creative Writing Guides

What If Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers, Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter Writing Creative Nonfiction, Writer's Digest Books and Associated Writing Programs Writing Fiction A Guide to Narrative Craft, Janet Burroway Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg Revision A Creative Approach to Writing and Rewriting Fiction, David Michael Kaplan Bird by Bird, Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lajnott Mystery and Manners Occasional Prose, Flannery O'Connor

Novel Publication Agents

Submitting a novel for publication is a more involved process than submitting a short story to a magazine. Most publishers prefer to read agented fiction. You can research different publishing companies and submit according to their guidelines, but you may want to go ahead and find a literary agent. Literary agents represent writers to publishers. Most agents specialize in fiction or nonfiction and some represent specific genre writing. Guides to finding literary agents, like other Writers'...

Literary Magazines

Black Warrior Review Creative Nonfiction Fourth Genre Allende, Isabel. The Little Heidelberg. The Stories of Eva Luna. New York Macmillan, 1992. Bailey, Tom. A Short Story Writer's Companion. Oxford Oxford University Press, 2001. Butler, Octavia E. The Parable of the Sower. New York Warner Books, 2000. _. The Parable of the Talents. New York Warner Books, 2000. Burroway, Janet, ed. Writing Fiction A Guide to Narrative Craft. 4th ed. New York HarperCollins College Publishers, 1996. Calvino,...

Personal Experience

Most creative nonfiction writers write from personal experience, with varying degrees of self-revelation. Scott Russell Sanders' disturbing, cathartic essay, Under the Influence, describes his childhood with an alcoholic father. In the passage below, Sanders contextual-izes the term alcoholic, setting up a contrast between his own life and what he knew of alcoholism. How far a man could slide was gauged by observing our back-road neighbors the out-of-work miners who had dragged their families...

Writing from Borrowed Experience

You have probably heard the advice that you should write what you know and as I've suggested, you certainly should write from your own experience. The things you have seen, tasted, heard, touched, and smelled with your own senses are most often more easily conveyed than sensual experiences strange to you. For example, you may describe the sensation of kayaking level 3 rapids on the Green River while you would be at a loss to write about being a bicycle courier in New York City. But we are...

Fantasy and Horror

Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, while certainly familiar as allegory for our world, is peopled with impossible beings, such as elves and hobbits. Similarly, J. K. Rowling's wildly successful Harry Potter series sets up a parallel world in which budding witches and wizards refine their magic skills. Unlike regular humans, or muggles, Harry and his friends in Rowling's books practice impossible acts and encounter impossible beasts. Characters in horror stories can be ridiculously...

Writing Basics

A good foundation in writing basics is necessary to writing strong narrative. Initially, you need to trust your competence to write rationally. You need to know how to write sentences and paragraphs. You might like to brush up on some of these skills. There are many excellent guides for grammar and other technical aspects of writing, including Barron's Writing The Easy Way. Another I strongly recommend is Karen Elizabeth Gordon's The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, a wonderfully playful guide to...

Perspective or Whose Story Is This Anyway

Stories emerge from various perspectives. In a narrative, it is not safe to assume that the perspective is the writer's. As we have heard from some of the writers whom I quoted in earlier chapters, the story sometimes has a will of its own, as do the characters that impel it. Of course, everything you write comes from you and, on some level, speaks your truth. But fiction, and fictive techniques in nonfiction, allow us that magical leap of imagination. Even though an Alice Munro story is told...

Backstory and Subtext

One element of narrative time is the backstory. You may want to think of the backstory as the story that happened before the story. These events linger in the story and influence the plot. Characters may refer to the events that comprise the backstory, or the backstory may emerge as the story's subtext. Subtext refers to the emotional underpinnings of the story. Often, what characters do not say or do reveals as much about the story as their dialogue and actions. In many ways, the backstory and...

Robots

While I've been suggesting that sci fi and fantasy characters work because they embody human struggles, science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer posits that sci fi characters, at least, are actually robots. Real people, says Sawyer, are quite accidental, the result of a random jumbling of genes and a chaotic life. But story people are made to order to do a specific job. In other words, robots Sawyer suggests that science fiction characters must be constructed according to their premises. While...

Flashback and Foreshadowing

Two popular techniques for moving through time are flashback and foreshadowing. Usually, a flashback is a specific character's memory. The character or the narrator might recount the memory, which may be written as a scene. Foreshadowing is a technique that suggests events that occur in the story before they happen. In The Monkey's Paw, the father's impulsive, fatal move in chess foreshadows his decision to use the paw, to disastrous ends. Other aspects of the story are foreshadowed, as well....

Short Story Form A Brief History

The short story as a literary form is relatively new to western literature. In the late 1300s, Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales witnessed the emergence of tales in poetic form. Chaucer drew great inspiration from the Italian poet Giovanni Boccaccio, author of The Decameron. Written after Europe had been devastated by the Plague, The Decameron 1351-1353 is often credited as the precursor to the short story, as is Antoine Galland's French translation of the classic Arabic Thousand and One...

Time And Space Setting And Perspective

At this point, you may have pieces of a story emerging from the exercises you completed around character and dialogue. Now your task is to begin stitching your pieces together. Your characters move and speak within a specific context, what you may think of as setting. Eliciting that setting through specific detail will locate your story in your reader's consciousness. We also will discuss perspective in this chapter, the point of view from which the narrative is told. This chapter will discuss...

The Value of Storytelling

The oral tradition of storytelling is as old as human memory. Most of us still grow up hearing stories, or tales, meant to teach us something, or, as the early Roman poet, Horace, suggested, to delight and instruct. Folk and fairy tales often do both, with a specific lesson imparted to the audience through the entertaining vehicle of the story. Contemporary stories often offer similar instruction but successful storywriters, and creative writers generally, abandon the latter half of Horace's...

The Novel

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. The novel is an event in consciousness. Our aim is not to copy actuality, but to modify and recreate our sense of it. The novelist is inviting the reader to watch a performance in his own brain. Expansion, that is the idea the novelist must cling to, not completion, not rounding off, but opening out. I wrote a novel. I have started two more. Beyond that, I don't have much to say about it. That's almost a joke....

Precision of Observation

Creative nonfiction is a genre located in the precision of observation. As much as it is afforded the benefits of fictionalization, creative nonfiction is more concerned with the observed world than the world of the imagination. This concern is what draws readers to creative nonfiction. We, as readers, desire the truth of the observation. We want to experience that truth through the creative reconstruction of the writer's experience, much as we want to experience the events in a short story....

Dialogue

We hear language as fluid and vibrant speech, singing, poetry, storytelling. We understand that the conventions that guide written language are not always applied in conversation. Similarly, dialogue should convey your characters' vibrance, but the conventions of conversation do not necessarily provide good dialogue. Dialogue is not speech. Dialogue is a verisimilitude of speech. Good dialogue can read like an actual conversation, but it is carefully crafted in its imitation. Dialogue...

Formula

My theory, and it's nothing new, is that mystery and romance fiction are big sellers because they rely on formula. We enjoy reading a mystery or romance because we have read something similar before. Usually, we can rely on the crime being solved and the couple being reunited. And like science fiction and fantasy, crime novels allow us to experience vicariously our greatest fears. Romance provides fodder for fantasies we would not indulge in everyday life. Perhaps the comfort romance oilers...

The

This book is dedicated to G and Z, who inspire me daily, to Wendy who inspires from afar, and to my creative writing students, past and present. Heather L. Hirschi has an M.F. A. in Creative Writing from the University of Utah, where she is currently an instructor in the university's writing program. She has published short stories in a number of literary publications and is the editor of What There Is The Crossroads Anthology. Copyright 2004 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. All rights...