Cast Of Thousands Introducing More Characters

So far, we've mostly considered scenes with only two or three characters. But suppose your book is going to be immense, with a dozen major characters, each with individual quirks and important roles to play in the plot. Or suppose there are only three major characters in your story, but ten secondary ones whom you don't want the reader to confuse with each other. How quickly should your beginning introduce additional characters, and in what detail As a rule of thumb, don't throw too many...

A special case of motivation villains

But not all bad guys are created equal. Some arouse a lot more hatred, or fear, or anger than others. Some villains are chilling enough to cause nightmares others merely cause yawns. Why Your book, of course, may not contain a villain at all, only muddled people living at cross-purposes with each other. But if you do have a villain, he or she will be much more successful if self-justified. Villains that act out of pure unadulterated evil are fun for comic...

Another view of revision

I can't leave the vital subject of revision without adding a caveat Some writers don't do it this way. In fact, some writers hardly do it at all. I'm reluctant to say that because it might be taken as endorsement of the view that revision is not necessary. It almost always is. This is especially true for new writers, who are still learning their craft. But the truth is that there are writers who revise very little. Usually, like Isaac Asimov, they cultivate a plain, straightforward style that...

Beginnings Middles And Ends

Excerpt from the short story Lily Red by Karen Joy Fowler used with permission of the author. Beginnings, Middles and Ends. Copyright 1993 by Nancy Kress. Printed and bound in the United States ofAmerica. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. Published by...

Chapter

UNDER DEVELOPMENT YOUR CHARACTERS AT MIDSTORY YOUR CHARACTER IS HAVING a mid-life crisis. His life exists in your story, and midway through your page count he is supposed to undergo a significant change. He sees the error of his ways, or he is made wise by experience, or he has a religious conversion, or he simply grows up. By the end of the story he will behave much differently than he did at the beginning. He will be a different person while, of course, remaining the same person the reader...

Climaxes that do

The climax, then, can be defined as whatever big event the forces in your story have been building toward. If a character is going to change, this is the experience that finally demonstrates that change (although earlier experiences may also play a part). If a problem is going to get solved, this is where the protagonist solves it. This is where the villain makes his last big fight, the lovers are united, the family tension finally explodes, the quest reaches its goal (for good or ill), the...

Conflict

The very first sentence of Fowler's story sets up the expectation of change, the catalyst for conflict. Readers immediately guess that being someone else isn't going to be easy. This is a project fraught with pitfalls. It may not be possible. We suspect that other characters will object. By the first sentence of the second paragraph, someone has the police officer clocking Lily at eighty. The reader by now has been set up to expect both conflict within Lily herself and conflict between Lily and...

Conflict Coming Soon To A Scene Near

The point to remember about conflict is that it arises because something is not going as expected. Your readers should suspect that as early as your first few paragraphs. Calling for conflict in the opening few paragraphs of a story doesn't mean that your first sentence must feature a body hurtling past a sixth-story window (although it might). Some stories and novels feature overt, dramatic conflict character versus character (as in thrillers, where one country's spy is pitted against...

Continuing In Story Time Controlling Conflict

Your third choice for a second scene is simply to go on with the story, dramatizing whatever happens next to whoever is your point-of-view character. Maybe Sam slams out of the house and Jane goes upstairs to confront Martha. Or maybe Martha, having overheard her parents fighting, runs off again, this time three hundred miles away to Memphis. Or maybe Sam packs his things and moves out, and on the way to a hotel his Volvo is hit by a bus. Any of these scenes could work. Or they could not work,...

Credibility Can This Prose Be Trusted

Even the most accurate and interesting details, however, will be undermined if your prose itself lacks credibility. Credibility in this context is not easy to define. It's related to trust Credible prose convinces the reader that the writer can handle the English language. He can be trusted. That sense of trust helps the reader suspend disbelief and enter into the world of the story. If this guy can write prose this smooth, goes the articulated-or-not reasoning, it's worth seeingwhether he can...

Exercises for endings

Choose a story, at least twenty pages long, that you've never read before. Read four pages, put the story down, and list all the expectations you've already formed about the story. Include anything that occurs to you style, characters, situation, conflict, outcome, world view. Now finish the story. Were your expectations met Did the genre the story belongs to contribute to your expectations being met 2. Identify the climax of the story you've just read. Where does it start End What forces,...

Exercises For First Scenes

Find an anthology or magazine of short stories. Read the first sentences of each. How many hint at some future conflict or change 2. Choose two of the stories and study their first three paragraphs. Does each opening contain an individualized character A hint of conflict Specific, interesting concrete details How do the openings differ from each other in their handling of these elements Is there anything here you can use in your openings 3. Do the same with the opening scenes of at least two...

Fear of success the neverending story

Sometimes the problem isn't fear of failure but fear of success. Iflfinish this story, the anxiety goes, I'll have to start another one. And I don't have another idea. And maybe that other story won't go as well as this one. So you don't finish. Instead, you spend your time polishing what's already there, or planning various endings, or rewriting the opening even though the forty-two people who have read the current opening all say it's terrific. Sometimes the fear of success takes a different...

Gestures and Body Language

Lighting a cigarette to show nervousness may have become clich , but there is still a wealth of body language you can use to individualize your character. The woman who kisses everybody on both cheeks (she's not French), the child who habitually walks into walls in a personal fog (she's not blind), the man who clutches the steering wheel so hard he's bent it (he's not Arnold Schwar-zenegger) they reveal something about the inner person by their outer mannerisms. Similarly, the man who delivers...

Help For Endings The Last Hurrah

THERE IT is, sitting on the table in a pristine pile of pages. A first draft. It's finished. After weeks (or months, or years), it's finally finished, with a beginning, a middle and an end. You want to break out a bottle of champagne, or turn a cartwheel, or imagine word for word the review in the Times. It's actually finished. Go ahead, indulge. You've earned it. But when the bottle's empty or the reverie complete, come back down to earth and pick up those pages again. You're...

Help For Middles Getting Unstuck

THERE ARE WRITERS WHO FIND writing middles exciting. These authors feel that the hard part is now out of the way. They've launched their characters they've charted their plot they're eager for the fun of midvoyage, skimming along under full sail. Middles, the trade winds of writing, exhilarate them. For me, as for many other writers I know, middles represent a genuine psychological problem We get stuck. We may be stuck for a few days, or a few months, or as in the case of Harold Brodkey's novel...

Literary relocation starting over in a different place

Remember Jane, Sam and Martha In the last chapter, we considered opening their story with the fight between the parents over Martha's behavior. But maybe that opening isn't working. Again working quickly and briefly, try writing a beginning that opens either earlier or later than the fight itself. Some possibilities, depending on who you've decided to make the point-of-view character a scene in which Martha wakes up sick, dirty and starving in a filthy room she doesn't recognize (earlier than...

More Exercises For Beginnings

Read the first page of each. Which ones made you want to read more Go back and study those beginnings. What specifically caught your attention 2. Pull out stories you've written, or are in the process of writing. Are the same elements you identified in question one present in your stories If not, do you see any way to revise the openings to include them 3. Turn to a story or novel you've already read and know fairly well. Pick one in the same broad genre as...

More exercises for middles

Choose a short story or novel you know well, one in which the protagonist undergoes a significant character change. Consider a. What did the character want in the beginning of the story b. What did she want by the end c. Which experiences helped change her List them. d. How did the author show that the character was even capable of change 2. Repeat the above exercise for one of your own finished stories. Do you see places where characterization is weak Could you improve it by adding a scene, or...

Moving along the track thinking in scenes

Now you know your protagonist, your point-of-view character and your throughline. Next comes deciding which scenes to write. Notice that I said, deciding which scenes to write rather than deciding what happens in the story. Plot is usually described in terms of things that happen, but the problem with this is that things that happen can in turn be described in exposition. A plot summary tells what happened in a story. You are not writing a plot summary. You're writing fiction, and fiction...

Planning for the climax novels versus short stories

In the midst of all this guided flexibility, however, you must dramatize one scene in your novel the climax. You have no choice about this. A climax that occurs off-stage is frustrating and disappointing to novel readers (short stories work differently we'll come to them in a minute). Nor should the climax speed by in a few paragraphs. This is the point you've been building toward for three hundred pages the reader, who's also invested three hundred pages' worth of reading time, wants to...

Putting It All Together An Opening That Works

The best way to see how character, conflict, specificity and credibility can all be present in the first three paragraphs is to study a specific example. This is the opening of Lily Red, a short story by Karen Joy Fowler One day Lily decided to be someone else. Someone with a past. It was an affliction of hers, wanting this. The desire was seldom triggered by any actual incident or complaint, but seemed instead to be related to the act or prospect of lateral movement. She felt it every time a...

Putting It All Together Characters We Want To Read More About

If you rely on just one or two of these methods to characterize your people, you're missing chances to make your beginning snag readers into wanting to know more. Here, for example, is a brief passage from a writer who is not doing his job. By relying only on dialogue to characterize, he has conveyed only the minimal sense of what these people are really like Who's there Louise called. He entered the room. I came to see how you're doing. That's nice of you. I'm fine. I'm sorry I didn't hear...

Reactions to Other Characters Actions

When one character says or does something, another character's reactions to this event can effectively characterize both of them. A chain reaction starts. Consider Jane and Sam, for instance Jane took a swig of Dr Pepper. I wish you weren't so spineless around that girl, Sam. Shejust snarls you around her little finger is what she does. Every single time. Sam took his nine-iron out of his bag and squinted along its length. It needed cleaning. He reached for the cloth. She's failing algebra and...

Replacing an old motivation with a new one

The outcome of all this dramatization of motive, preparation for change, and depiction of story events is to replace a character's initial motivation with a different one. That is, the character started out wanting one thing and somewhere in the middle switches to wanting something else (which will prepare nicely for the ending). Sam starts out wanting to be left alone, uninvolved in his daughter's problems he might switch to wanting desperately to rescue Martha from self-destruction. Elizabeth...

Sentence Construction

Your natural style may lean toward short, crisp sentences or long, complex ones. Both are fine if they avoid awkwardness, a particular danger of longer sentences. An awkward sentence is hard to read, is ambiguous, or orders its clauses in a way that creates an impression different from what was intended. These are all awkward sentences He called Delia in London and told her about the funeral for only eighty cents. (The sentence is made ludicrous by a misplaced modifier.) The flower bed, which...

Settling in for the long haul

Sometimes you get stuck not because of the content ofyour story, but because of its size. A novel can seem an overwhelming undertaking three hundred pages (or more sometimes much more). How will you sustain your vision that long How will you keep yourself going How long does writing a novel take, anyway Since these questions are most likely to strike somewhere in the middle ofyour book, this chapter seems an appropriate place to answer them. Seen from the middle, a novel can seem an endless...

Step four major rewrite

When you're finished reading and analyzing your story, you might feel overwhelmed by all your reactions and ideas. There are so many. Where do you start Start at the beginning. Try to revise in order, the beginning and then the middle and then the end, so that you retain control over how the various scenes will appear to a reader. Take as long as you need. Go back to the beginning as often as you must. Consult your margin notes, and those of Sensitive Reader. Rewriting involves hundreds of...

Step six polishing the prose

We talked about credible prose at the beginning of this book, and I won't repeat all the elements that make up good prose. What I will do is urge you to go through your entire manuscript one last time yes, even if it's a novel this time reading not for plot or character development, but on a sentence-by-sentence level. Look for diction that isn't sharp enough and substitute a better word. Straighten out awkward or convoluted sentences. Double-check spelling and punctuation. Make sure that the...

Step three scene analysis

Now switch metaphorical hats, from reader to editor. We're about to look at the way stories are written in scenes. Here's a technique some writers find useful. Make a list of every scene in your short story by location or major event. For a novel, try listing the scenes in each chapter or section as you revise it. A partial list might look like this When you've finished, look at your list of scenes. Are there any you can cut Are there any you can combine A scene should both advance the plot and...

Techniques that wont get you unstuck

Richard McKenna, author ofthe best-selling novel The Sand Pebbles and the equally wonderful essay on creativity Journey With a Little Man, relates in that essay his discouragement midway through writing the novel. For a time, he says, he became convinced that the answer to getting unstuck was to divorce his wife and move to the desert, where he could write uninterrupted by the demands of domesticity. Eventually he came to his senses. He kept both his wife and his geographical location North...

Techniques to keep you writing

But how can you do any of these things write a story simulation, conclude nonproductive polishing, rethink your direction, or go back to your first wrong turn if you can't even make yourself sit down at your desk and write Not anything. At all. Various writers have devised techniques to break their personal writer's block. Try whichever ones you think might work for you. Gene Wolfe, author of the much-praised tetralogy Book of the New Sun, refuses to allow himself to consume any words until he...

The Beginning And All The Rest

This chapter and the preceding one have focused on only the first two scenes ofyour story or novel, which is in a way artificial Those two scenes don't exist in a vacuum. Part of their function is to prepare the reader for the rest of the story. They do this by making the implicit promise to your reader. By the time your reader has finished your first two scenes, she knows (1) what kind of story this is domestic drama, political thriller, police procedural, etc. (2) what general type of...

The Later Beginning Your Second Scene

TEN YEARS AGO I WROTE A TERRIFIC opening scene for a short story about a disillusioned Vietnam vet who takes to the woods and a hard-nosed dryad who resents his presence. The story had conflict, character, understated lyricism. Unfortunately, it also had only that one scene. I could never figure out what was supposed to come next. The story remains unfinished, although I haul it out and stare at it every once in a while. This dreary occurrence is, happily, not typical. Usually when I sit down...

The Middle Staying On Track

IN THE MIDDLE OF THE JOURNEY of life, wrote Dante Alighieri in The Inferno, I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost. Ah, how hard it is to tell of that wood, savage and harsh and dense, the thought of which renews my fear. So bitter is it that death is hardly more. Dante was having trouble with middles (a problem he eventually did resolve, with a little Outside help). He isn't alone. Marty writers find themselves eager to begin their stories. They plunge right into...

The Rest Of Your First Scene

Now you have three brilliant paragraphs (or maybe even five, or eight, or ten). You have a genuine character on the page. You've hinted at conflict. Your details are well chosen and concrete. You've caught your reader's attention. But a handful of paragraphs even brilliant ones do not constitute a scene. What will happen during the remainder of that crucial first scene Well, what do you want that first scene to accomplish in terms of your story Put another way, what should be different at the...

The right ending a litmus test

A successful ending must be tied not only to the author's implicit promise and the forces dramatized in the middle, but also to the protagonist's nature. A test for your ending is this question If my protagonist were a radically different person, would this story still end the same way The answer should be No. If it's Yes if the events of your book would be unaltered no matter whom they happened to your ending will not feel convincing. Consider one version of the ever-useful Sam. You've spent...

The special case of the series book

Every book in a series (except the last and are you sure you're not going to write another one ) bears a special burden. In addition to standing on its own as a satisfying reading experience, it must also leave the door open for the next book. This means that things can't be too thoroughly wrapped up. If the hero is dead, the town destroyed, the war over and the lovers married, what will you write about Actually, there are three kinds of series books, and what you write about depends on which...

The Very Beginning Your Opening Scene

You have in front ofyou a large pile of unsolicited short stories, or an even larger pile of first novels. You also have an editorial meeting in two hours, three phone calls to return this morning, and a problem with the art department that you wish would go away by itself but which probably won't. You pick up the first manuscript in the pile and start reading it. How far do you get before you decide to finish it or to put it back in its self-addressed stamped envelope with a...

Three Patterns For Stories That Arent Working

In my years of teaching, I've noticed three distinct patterns in student stories, which are often also habitual patterns for the stories' writers. One kind of story starts very slowly. Events drag, characters seem confused, and even the prose is a bit clumsy. Then, somewhere around page five for a short story or chapter three for a novel, the writer suddenly hits his stride or finds his voice. The story picks up, and from that point on it becomes more and more interesting. This writer needs...

What IS the track three vital decisions

The overall direction of your story is determined by three crucial questions Who is the point-of-view character The answers help you define which scenes you need to write, in what order and to what end. Once you've made these three choices, writing the middle becomes much easier. Your short story or novel will undoubtedly have more than one important character. Ideally, readers will be passionately interested in the fate of all your major characters. Even so, in most stories one character...

Why does the character actually change

The character changes because of the events of the plot. You already know those. Ifyou've shown us what the character is like in the beginning, and you've convinced us she's capable of change, the story events will form a pattern that makes change seem inevitable. The key word here as it was in complex motivation is pattern. In real life people sometimes undergo real change as a result of one experience, even if the experience seems trivial to outsiders. In fiction,...

Wrong direction i left my heart in chapter three

The above advice also applies to a different cause of getting stuck. In this version, you know where you're going. You've worked out the whole story or novel in your mind, or you've outlined it on paper, and when you started to write it you were very interested. Then something happened. You've stuck to your outline, but now you hate the idea of sitting down to write. Also, the characters are behaving oddly. They're overreacting emotionally to simple occurrences. They're saying or doing things...

Rewriting looking for a few good sentences

So how do you get that polished last scene, evocative last paragraph, perfect last sentence Through revision. The great Russian masters knew the importance of revision. Tolstoy rewrote Anna Karenina seventeen times (in longhand ). Vladimir Nabokov wrote, I have rewritten often several times every word I have ever written. My pencils outlast their erasers. Rewriting your ending is just as important as rewriting your beginning, and repays the effort just as strongly. A good beginning gains your...

A final word on the climactic scene

The climax must be in proportion to the length of your story. In novels, the climax usually occupies at least a chapter it may take up several chapters. In a short story, the length of the climactic scene depends on what kind of story you're writing (more on this in the next chapter), but in general it, too, should not be rushed. Ifyou have twenty pages setting up a tense situation, the resolution should not flash by in two brief paragraphs. It won't feel important enough. How long is long...

Step two tracing the promise

You already worked on this step as you wrote. Now try to look with fresh eyes at the three parts of your story beginning, middle, end in terms of the implicit promise. You're still reading as a reader here, not a writer. Reread your first two pages, and then set the story down to think about them. What kind of experience do they seem to promise the reader Characters he can identify with A glimpse into a different world Thrills and excitement An intellectual puzzle to solve Insights into human...

Making sure the reader stays on track formal structural designs

In a short story, it's usually not difficult to make sure a reader doesn't become confused. A short story has room for only a handful of events. Most are narrated in chronological order. Usually there aren't more than three or four important charac ters to keep track of. As long as you provide sufficient transition phrases (Two weeks later . . . It had been different back in college . . .), nobody gets lost. A novel is a different proposition. Some resemble short stories in their...

Developing the promise

The middle of the story can be defined (perhaps arbitrarily) as everything after the introduction of the main characters conflict and before the climax. Note how slippery this definition is. In a very short story, the main conflict may be underway by the second paragraph, which may be part of the first scene especially if the story has only two or three scenes. The beginning seamlessly becomes the middle, with no real dividing point. On the other hand, a longer story often has a clear...

The ending of a traditional plotted story

It's similar to the ending of a novel, and the same requirements apply (see the last chapter). However, because a short story is briefer and contains fewer characters, the climax sometimes includes the denouement that is, we find out during the climactic scene what happened to everybody who counts, and so the story ends. At the end of any story, something must be different from the beginning. Something must have changed in a meaningful way. An important consideration in writing the ending to a...

Flashbacks You Can Go Home Again

The Swimming Pool Theory also applies to another type of second scene, the flashback. For a flashback to succeed as part of your beginning, it should meet three criteria. First, it should follow a strong opening scene, one that roots us firmly in your character's present. This means that we have enough sense of her as an individual, and of her present situation as dramatic potential, so that the flashback doesn't seem to be happening to a cipher. This passage wouldn't make a good story...

The Story In Your Head

There's a story in your head or maybe just the start of a story. Characters are walking around in there, talking to each other, doing things to the furniture, gesturing and shouting and laughing. You can see it all so clearly, like a movie rolling in your mind. It's going to be terrific. Excited, you sit down to write. But something happens. The story that comes out on the page isn't the same as the story in your head. The dialogue is flatter, the action doesn't read right, the ifeeljust isn't...

Step five image patterns

I've left revisions on image patterns until after the major rewrite, because until the basic scenes of your story are in place, it's difficult to control how those scenes use imagery. But now you've got your story in its almost-final form. Put it away for a few more days, and then look at it again in terms of the images you use consistently throughout. In the last chapter, for instance, we looked at Stephen Mi-not's use of coldness and warmth in his short story Sausage and Beer. In the...

Summary The Very Beginning

Does all this sound like a lot of work to spend on one scene, when you still have anywhere from two to two hundred more to write And suppose you're eager to go on to those other scenes. Should you stop your story dead to rewrite and polish your opening That depends. Writers compose stories in various ways. Some work best when they write like a runner racing through a haunted graveyard late at night full speed ahead and no looking back. Others polish each scene as they write it. Still others...

Step one becoming the reader

Although you may have revised sections of your story as you wrote them the beginning scene, for instance , this is your first chance to consider the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript as a whole. The first step in doing this is to not do it immediately. Put the story away for a while a few days or a week or a month, depending on how long you need to get some distance from it. When you no longer think it is a absolutely brilliant, or b absolutely stupid different writers have different...

Showing that characters are capable of change

If your character changes significantly during the course of your story, we need to believe that she's among those human beings capable of change. We've all known people who are so rigid in their beliefs or behavior that they'll never change. They're locked into views of the world they acquired at some earlier stage of life, and it's useless to present them with any other ideas. They don't hear them, even though they may appear to be listening. They can't hear. They have too much invested in...

To epilogue or not to epilogue

The Jurassic Park denouement is set off in its own chapter, which is called Epilogue San Jose. What do you gain by labeling your denouement an epilogue Although there are exceptions, contemporary novelists generally set the denouement apart in an epilogue only if it differs significantly from the main narrative in time or place, or if it's going to be in a radically different style. Thus, the action of Jurassic Park's epilogue occurs off the island, in a city more than twenty miles away, days...

Varying Narrative Mode Cinderella Redux

All fiction is created out of five different ways of presenting information to the reader, called narrative modes dialogue, description, action, thoughts and exposition. Some writers rely more extensively on one mode than on others. Hemingway makes heavy use of dialogue, while romance writers often include lots of description of characters' appearance, clothes and homes. A complete story will use all five modes, but very often the opening scene is characterized by the predominance of one mode...

The ending of a contemporary literary short story

Much of what was said above also applies to the contemporary literary short story but not all of it. This kind of story also evokes some emotion at the end, although the emotion may be mixed and ambiguous. There also needs to be a change of some sort from the beginning of the story to the end, and that change should be embodied in an action. However, the action may be very slight, and, as mentioned earlier, the full import of the change may be carried mostly through symbol. For instance, the...

Who Are These People Introducing And Developing Your Characters

So far we've talked about writing the first two scenes to develop conflict and imply change. Notice, however, that in everything I've said so far is an implicit assumption Different characters will have different kinds ofconflicts and changes. The Jane who reacts to the fight with her husband by going to church to pray is not the same Jane who reacts by pouring three fingers of Scotch. Another Jane, in fact, never would have had the fight in the first place. She would have simply pretended not...

Backfill The Swimming Pool Theory

Backfill is basically expository background, explaining who these people are and how they got into this mess in the first place. It can be handled in two ways as straight exposition in the author's voice, or as a sort of pseudoreminiscence in the voice of the point-of-view character. Avery Corman's popular novel Kramer vs. Kramer, for instance, opens in a delivery room, during the birth of the Kramers' first child. The next few scenes are backfill about the course of the pregnancy, both...

The Implicit Promise Framework For The Whole

Every story makes a promise to the reader. Actually, two promises, one emotional and one intellectual, since the function of stories is to make us both feel and think. The emotional promise goes Read this and you'll be entertained, or thrilled, or scared, or titillated, or saddened, or nostalgic, or uplifted but always absorbed. There are three versions of the intellectual promise. The story can promise 1 Read this andyou'll see this worldfrom a different perspective 2 Read this and you'll have...

Resolution versus resonance

Short stories divide into two broad, overlapping categories the traditional plotted story and what, for lack of a better name, we'll call the contemporary literary short story. The traditional plotted story is easy to recognize. Its ending is like that of a novel The plot complications are resolved, for better or worse, and the fates ofall the major characters are made clear. This is the kind ofstory we all grew up on Cinderella and Peter Rabbit and the mystery stories in Boy's Life. Cinderella...

Tone

Whatever the tone of your story comic, serious, reportorial, ironic the credible writer doesn't allow it to become self-indulgent. The focus should be on the story, not on the writer. This means resisting the impulse to overwrite through clever asides, through telling how important this all is as opposed to showing us , through language too grandiose for the situation, through throwing in pointless foreign words or in slang, or through insistent punctuation Then the car slammed into the wall If...

The denouement marryin and buryin

Everything after the climax is called the denouement, whose function is to wrap up the story. Mark Twain referred to the denouement as the marryin' and the buryin'. It shows us two things the consequences of the plot and the fate of any characters not accounted for in the climax. Consider again Michael Crichton's best-selling novel Jurassic Park The climactic scene, which takes several chapters, concerns the cloned dinosaurs' attacks on the human compound and the humans' counterattack with...

Character Who Goes There

Your opening should give the reader a person to focus on. In a short story, this person should turn up almost immediately he should be integral to the story's main action he should be an individual, notjust a type. In a novel, the main character may take longer to appear Anna Karenina doesn't show up in her own novel until chapter eighteen. However, somebody interesting should appear very early. In Anna Karenina, it's Anna's brother Stepan, who is both integral to the plot and very much an...

Fear of failure the tolstoy syndrome

My 1981 short story Casey's Empire is about Jerry Casey, a graduate student struggling to be a writer His professors spoke blithely of Shakespeare's minor plays, Shaw's failed efforts, Dickens's unsuccessful pieces. Stories that Casey, stretched out on a flat rock under the blank Montana sky, had thrilled to and wondered at and anguished over, were assigned grades like so many frosh comp papers. B to Somerset Maugham and Jane Austen. B- to C.S. Lewis and Timon of Athens. His own half-finished...