Category Archives: Writing tools

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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The shrunken draft

I’m not sure where I first heard of it, but creating a “shrunken draft” can be a way to get to know a long draft. Ask yourself what specific element of fiction writing would you like the next draft of … Continue reading

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Planning characters

One way to characterize is for your character to make a plan. The kind of plan the character makes, the level of formality with which it is made, how the character responds when things go according to their plan, how … Continue reading

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