November 25, 2007

Publication suggestions for emerging writers

Good publications for "emerging" writers are in the "extended entry" below.

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November 18, 2007

OPTIONAL - Setting

How do you make decisions about setting? Does it need to be integral to the story? Can your stories take place "anywhere," or are they rooted in a particular place?

Do you want "setting for setting's sake," and beautiful descriptions? What is the role of setting in the stories and books you like best? How much is too much? How much is too little?

How do you know if there's too much or too little? What problems might either extreme pose to your story and, by extension, your reader?

October 28, 2007


  • How would you define "voice"?
  • How would you describe your own authorial voice? Do you know it when you see it? Is it still under construction?
  • Does "voice" matter? How much?
  • Do you try to develop your voice? Why/why not?
  • What unanswered questions do you have about voice?

September 19, 2007

Character: What Is It?

According to the OED:

11. The sum of the moral and mental qualities which distinguish an individual or a race, viewed as a homogeneous whole; the individuality impressed by nature and habit on man or nation; mental or moral constitution.


12. a. Moral qualities strongly developed or strikingly displayed; distinct or distinguished character; character worth speaking of. (For instance, "1735 POPE Ep. Lady 2 Most Women have no Characters at all.")

A few questions:

  • How do Marquez or Joyce establish the verisimilitude--or the feeling of "realness"--in their characters? If it's detail, what sort of detail?

  • Why might an author sometimes choose to have "unreal" or "stock" characters? What function could unreal/stock characters fulfill? Are all great books chock full of real-seeming characters?

  • Does the differentiation of "round vs. flat" character make sense to you? (See Wikipedia.) Dynamic vs. static?

  • How do you know a strong fictional character when you see one? (Beyond, "I just know it when I see it.") What are the hallmarks of a strong fictional character?

  • What sort of story or book requires strong fictional characters? What sort of story might succeed with types or caricatures?

  • What sort of story relies on a "likable" main character/narrator? What sort of story thrives on an unlikable narrator? Let me clarify: I don't mean "should," but if you're trying to write a happily-ever-romance, it might be harder to do with an unlikable narrator, no? Or perhaps it might turn out to be more interesting that way. What books or stories--ones that were well-done or memorable--thrived on an unlikable narrator?

August 13, 2007

PLOT: What is it? Why is it? Why does a writer care?

Answer any of the following questions, or ask and answer your own questions about plot.

  • How does John Barth define plot? Do you agree or disagree with his definition? Which parts of it seemed particularly useful or debatable?
  • How important is plot in your enjoyment of a story? Is it the most important thing, somewhere in the middle, or do you not care about it at all?
  • Could you describe the plot of one of the short-shorts we read in a single short sentence?
  • If you have written stories, do you think about plot first, or something else? Where do your plots "come from"?