Dont Prejudice Your Editor

It stands to reason that you want to get your editor to read your story. Therefore, it's obvious that you want to present her with as attractive a package as possible. How do you accomplish this By following standard literary manuscript form. Put your story in the proper manuscript form, and you won't prejudice the editor at the outset. Entire books have been written on manuscript form. You probably know as much about the subject as I do. However, just to be sure you don't make a ghastly...

Dont Wander Around in a

Wait a minute I don't know what's going on here. Did you ever read a short story or novel that gave you this feeling partway through Worse, did you ever write a story where you suddenly started feeling that way It's a pretty bad feeling when it comes during a story you're reading. But it's far worse when it happens during your writing of a story. In that case, it probably signals potential disaster. Of course all of us experience times during first draft when things do not seem to be going...

Dont Write About Wimps

Fiction writers too often forget that interesting characters are almost always characters who are active-risk-takers - highly motivated toward a goal. Many a story has been wrecked at the outset because the writer chose to write about the wrong kind of person -a character of the type we sometimes call a wimp. He's the one who wouldn't fight under any circumstances. Ask him what he wants, and he just sighs. Poke him, and he flinches-and retreats. Confront him with a big problem, and he fumes and...

Dont Ignore Professional Advice

In the previous chapter we warned against taking too much advice from fellow amateurs, and noted that one day you may get lucky enough to have an editor fall in love with your work and give you sound guidance. There is also another possible source of good, face-to-face advice on your own work, and that's study with a published author who also knows how to teach his craft. If you can find a professional who knows how to teach the craft of fiction, you should, therefore, go out of your way to...

Dont Mangle Characters Speech

There was a time, not so long ago, when fiction writers strove for authenticity in some of their stories by attempting to imitate regional and ethnic dialects and pronunciations by purposely misspelling words in their dialogue. Today such practices have fallen into disfavor. For one thing, it takes a very high degree of skill to depart from standard English in dialogue without unnecessarily distracting the reader. For another, styles simply change, and stories using such devices today often...

Dont Consider Yourself Too Smart

It's possible to sabotage your fiction by being too smart for your own good - by being a smart aleck. Even before you begin writing your next story, you should examine your attitudes toward yourself your readers, your own work and contemporary fiction. It could be that these attitudes are damaging your work without your realizing it. Ask yourself Do you consider yourself more intelligent than most of the stories and novels you read Do you believe contemporary fiction is sort of beneath you in...

Dont Waste Your Plot Ideas

This section is aimed primarily at novelists. If you've never written a book-length story before, one of the many interesting and possibly dismaying things you'll learn during construction of the first draft is simply how many incidents and events you have to dream up in order to make length. It's possible to write a one-idea short story. But even the shortest novel contains dozens of plot ideas, subplots, minor incidents, and significant events. One of your first creative jobs as a novelist,...

Dont Forget Stimulus and Response

Story logic goes deeper than providing good background motivation and avoiding coincidence. Even if you're an ace on these matters, your copy still may be flawed in terms of having things happen for no apparent reason. That's because fiction readers may need more than background and good motive for what their characters do in a story. Readers will also usually need to see a specific stimulus that causes a given response right here and now. The law of stimulus and response dictates that your...