Category Archives: Writing tools

Toward a synopsis

Answer each of the following questions. Use just one sentence in each answer. How did your protagonist get involved in the story? What conflict arises to move the novella forward? What is the broad setting of your novella? What is … Continue reading

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Relationships and characterization

Interview at least two other characters about the main character: How well do they know him or her? What do they know about him or her that he or she does not know about themselves? Do they think of the … Continue reading

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Characterization and the 36 questions

Answer these questions as a way to help create a character or characters. When the questions mention “you” think of the character. If they mention “we” or a partner, either think of another character or yourself. The questions are the … Continue reading

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Quick emergency rough drafts

Here are some steps toward a quick rough draft. Read all the steps first. Make a quick, tentative plan before you start. Quick beginnings: Start with an interesting bit of language Something you overheard eavesdropping or A phrase that is … Continue reading

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2250 Donald Barthelme’s “Not-knowing”

How much do you need to plan a short story before you begin writing it? Consider Donald Barthelme’s essay “Not-knowing.”

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2250 Margot Livesey’s “How to Tell a True Story”

We’ve been talking about autobiography and fiction in class. Charles Baxter and Peter Turchi’s Bringing the Devil to His Knees includes Margot Livesey’s essay, which is closely related to our conversation.

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Self-analyzing

From James N. Frey’s How to Write a Damn Good Novel, here are some suggestions for critiquing your own work.

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