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  1. SakuraMoon06
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    SakuraMoon06 New Member

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    Help with my Creative Writing assignment

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by SakuraMoon06, Jan 8, 2014.

    Hi! I'm new and could really use some help.

    I'm taking a Creative Writing course and we need to write a fictional short story that is non-genre. I've never really written non-genre (there's always genre elements in my stories).

    Also, is there a good method to use with short stories concerning structure?

    Thank you every, I can use any help and advice with this!

    Sakura
     
  2. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're new? Or just new to this site?

    First off I would start by editing the piece you just posted; it's littered with mistakes that will guarantee you a D in your class. Unfortunately I have no idea what non-genre is - isn't everything some sort of genre? It's like here in California people get offended when told they have an accent - they actually deny having one. I tell them, of course you have an accent - Northern Californian - they still get offended!

    Seriously, your first task should be to rewrite your post above and take it from there. Good luck.
     
  3. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I find the term non-genre very misleading.
    All fiction has a genre, sometimes it's just not as big as fantasy or sci-fi.
    Slice of life is generally a good term for it though it's easy to suddenly fall into another genre. In those fictions, the problem usually is a defining genre like drug-issues, alcoholism, sex, coming of age... non-genre is just a fancy term for general fiction.

    Regular fiction is about reality, like YA fiction but less teenage drama and more sensibility and maturity.
    You can convey morals, lessons, or expose issues in a persons day to day life with how they can be resolved.
    For me, they're a great way to make a reader say "Huh." not "Huh?" but "Huh."

    If it's a short story you need to prolly be under 10k words.
    You need a character, an issue, an how to overcome, and an ending.

    If it's supposed to be on real life, I find personal growth stories are the strongest.
    Make your MC grow by dealing with a problem that there is no easy answer to and finding peace despite the consequences.

    Or make it a humor about kitchen appliances going rogue.

    The only method is to think small.
    You don't want an epic novel with relationships and plot twists.
    Sweet, straight to point, evocative.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I've never heard of non-genre so I looked it up:
    This is the second source I found that said non-genre was "a slice-of-life story".

    So that's a start at least.

    As for structure, when it comes to creative writing I don't think structure is going to create your writing for you. If it is, there should be some textbook or other sources the instructor has suggested that might help.

    What you need is a story idea. Start with a subject: new kid in school, dysfunctional family, geek finds love... the possibilities are endless. Then grow it by adding something that happens: new kid doesn't fit in but finally finds other outcasts, dysfunctional family pulls together in crisis then falls apart again, geek love turns out to be a fantasy...

    BTW, welcome to the forum.
     
  5. Sueshep
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    Sueshep New Member

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    I'm not certain how helpful a list of things not to do would be, but since you're in a class that is doing literary fiction or mainstream fiction, I do have a list of stories and story structures to avoid. They crop up a lot and are often situations or scenarios rather than stories that actually follow a character who makes goals, works toward them, and deals with complications in order to eventually achieve success.

    If you want to write one of these stories, that's fine -- but your writing will be far stronger if you wait to write it until after you've written three wholly original stories that are not on the lists below. If nothing else, just hearing about potential pitfalls may cause you to write a far more nuanced story than most tales which are based on the premises below.

    Definitely Avoid
    • Anything that turns out to be a dream or a psychotic / drug-induced fantasy. Yes, we know fiction isn't real, but we as readers like the illusion that it could be real and therefore might possibly matter in the real world. If you say "... and then he woke up. The End," you're basically saying your story was pointless.
    • Stories in which your focus character's life is so horrible they choose to kill themselves. Whether or not someone stops your focus character from committing suicide, you will run into the problem of the story lacking significant external conflict, you will (almost always) run into the problem of conveying mental illness quite poorly due to word count constraints, and you will usually have a diabolus / deus ex machina feel to your writing. If the person kills themselves, then it feels like the author-god is screwing with them. If the person is somehow saved, then it often feels like the author cheated.
    • Stories whose point is that your focus character's life is miserable and he doesn't have the physical or emotional resources to do anything about it. You can have someone start out that way and then be wrong, or you can have a secondary character who fits these characteristics, but don't make the main character's misery the focus of your tale. That's a situation. It's not a story.
    • Stories whose point is that the main character is insane, and life is difficult or incomprehensible as a result. There are a lot of people in this world with mental illnesses, and I myself do enjoy writing characters with mental or physical limitations because I feel that it grounds me in a way Standard Issue Healthy Character does not, but successful stories with mentally ill protagonists are stories that have the characters doing things and setting goals and failing and making new plans and doing all kinds of awesome stuff along the way. These stories, when successful, are never about the main character being insane. They are about the main character working toward a goal, and the main character's illness is one of a number of attributes which must be taken into account along the way.
    • Stories in which the character moves physically but not mentally. By this, I mean that if your character goes on a walk, or moves to Ohio, or sees a cat, or goes on a date, or buys a set of chairs, that isn't a story yet. Unless something is affecting the character on an emotional level (and one other than mild curiosity or mild distaste), you probably don't have a story.
    Be Careful
    • Stories where the main character is dealing with a physical threat, but not a social / emotional one. If your focus character is lost at sea, that could be an awesome story, but it will only be an awesome story if you make sure that you get into your character's head right at the start and then stay there throughout the entire journey. If you accidentally start to describe your character's actions without talking about your character's thoughts or hopes or emotions, then you will effectively lose your reader's interest. It sounds horrible for me to say that we don't care about random people, but we don't. We can only care abstractly for the person in India who was run over by a car a minute ago, or the kid in Guam whose brother is desperately sick, or the retired grandmother of four in Ireland who just did a self-examination and is now sitting on her quilted bedspread, hands clasped tightly together and shoulders silently hunched for fear that the cancer is back. (Okay, that last one was cheating. I didn't say "woman in Ireland with breast cancer," I made you picture a specific person and then I showed you her thoughts and feelings and hopefully made you feel sympathy in a way the anonymous car accident victim didn't. But you get my point -- emotions are how you grab and hold the reader's attention. They are absolutely essential if you want to write a gripping tale about someone who is in physical danger but who isn't in conflict with another human being.)
    • Stories about someone being physically or emotionally abused. This is a situation. If someone is abused but then other stuff happens, then that usually turns out a lot better than stories whose point is that abuse happens and it's terrible. This goes quadruple for sexual abuse.
    • Stories in which Minority Character (whether they're a minority in an ethnic, religious, cultural, or sexually oriented sense) does stuff and is disliked because they are a Minority Character, and then they are vindicated because Hate Is Bad and the bullies Learn A Valuable Lesson. Or any story in which a Minority Character is relentlessly abused -- because, believe it or not, being a minority does not mean that your entire life must be defined by that one trait. Having minority characters go through hardships and overcome them is really cool, but in those stories their minority status is often one trait out of many traits that define them. If you want to write about minorities, try to write about people instead -- because as it turns out, stories in which minorities get to be awesome people doing awesome things are far rarer and more precious than "message" stories in which a stock character teaches bullies an object lesson.

    Good stories can be about so many things -- about family troubles, about friendships, about courage and love and hatred and bitter sorrows. They can be about oldsters and kids, farmers and politicians, draftsmen and dental office clerks. They can be about people growing wiser or growing tougher or learning how to care again. You can write an amazing story about a woman whose son takes his first steps after a bad mountain climbing accident, or a heartfelt story about a young girl posting "Found: One Fish, Black and Silver" signs around her neighborhood.

    So the above list isn't meant to cut your options in half. It's just a list of eight story conceits that I have seen over and over again, and they usually don't work. Beginning writers are often harmed by choosing to focus on dramatic situations because they don't yet know that it's the character's journey that matters, not the situation.

    Beginning writers will often learn more from taking an ordinary but interesting person -- "a teenage girl" or "a father of three" will start out ordinary; once you've given them hopes, dreams, constraints, a personality and a physical location, they'll be unique -- and giving them a problem to deal with, instead.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
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  6. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    Maybe I'm missing something. You're taking a course. You have the textbooks that everyone else is using. But it seems that what you're saying is, "I don't want to take the time to study the assignment and then write the story, I want someone to give me the three paragraph version that will get me a passing grade." And that won't happen for two reasons: first, if it was that easy we'd all be wealthy published writers. And second, there are no short cuts to writing well.

    Now that being said, while if you would post the story you think fits the assignment we won't rewrite it for you, people will tell you the kind of things you're doing wrong, so you can improve and do a better job.
     
  7. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    genre |ˈʒɒ˜rə| |ˈ(d)ʒɒnrə|noun - a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter.

    I can't see how you can have non genre fiction. Just by saying that, puts it in a genre. :confused::confused:
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I agree, I'm just saying the term does have meaning to some people.
     
  9. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    There you go. I didn't even see that, just barely sneaking through another day by learning something new. Phew!!
     

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