Category Archives: Writing tools

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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2250 Words and metaphors

Consider these two additional pages from Kooser.

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Characterization and work

This exercise has its roots in Benjamin Percy’s excellent Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction, specifically the “Get a Job” chapter. Characterize by writing about the character’s job. Address at least the following prompts: How did the character get the job? … Continue reading

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