Category Archives: Writing tools

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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Humor

Thrill Me mentions repose in contrast with action. Could humor work as well? From the excellent 3 A.M. Epiphany, consider these two exercises. Draft an example of one that might work for your fiction portfolio.

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Beginnings

  This exercise comes from Brian Kiteley’s excellent book The 3 A.M. Epiphany. We’ll talk about and slightly alter the exercise during class. After that exercise, complete this one. Constrast the two.

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Blurring character and plot

Think about your English 412R fiction portfolio by writing out answers to these questions. Your answers are not promises. Page numbers refer to Percy’s Thrill Me. What does your character look like? What do they like to think about? Hate … Continue reading

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On description and setting

These suggestions are from Charlie Jane Anders’s “Description Without Boring the Reader or Yourself” on, I think, I09. (Her book, btw, is very good.) Commit to never being boring Engage all five senses: sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures; temperature Try … Continue reading

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Dialogue tips

Consider these dialogue tips from Janet Burroway’s always excellent Writing Fiction. Burroway also points out the value of “no” dialogue.

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