1. Rimuel
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    Rimuel Member

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    Writing Basics for Short Stories and Novels

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rimuel, Jun 14, 2013.

    Are there any basic materials that I can read about here to get me started? For example, like the stickied post on plot development where Cogito talked about themes, plots and storylines.

    Links to other websites would be fine as well. Thanks!
     
  2. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    This website (http://www.writesf.com/) is useful for writing science-fiction, but you can take something valuable away in whatever genre you're writing.

    Have fun! :)
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the best way to learn how to write is to READ...

    do you constantly read the works of the best writers? [doesn't mean the most popular authors [many of whom write badly], but the ones who are widely respected for the exceptionally fine quality of their writing]...
     
  4. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    I also agree with this. But remember you can learn from bad books too - just like a director watches bad movies and teaches himself not to do certain things that made that particular movie a failure.
     
  5. archerfenris
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    archerfenris Active Member

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    So there's nothing to learn from writers who are very popular? Surely there's a reason they sell so many copies?
     
  6. Rimuel
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    Rimuel Member

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    [MENTION=54545]archerfenris[/MENTION]:

    Manipulating people through appealing to their emotions, beliefs and expectations. Advertising 101.


    [MENTION=13710]thomas[/MENTION]:

    Thank you~


    @mam mam aia:

    I'd confess that I haven't been reading novels or short stories. That's definitely one of the things I plan to do.

    The trouble is, how do I know if a given author writes well? The universal solution that I thought up is to learn to analyze written works, particularly short stories and novels. So, how do I learn this? Right now, my solution is simply to read up on the fundamental components of short stories and novels. In other words, plot and storyline, themes and issues, character, setting, POV, etc.

    So I guess my question is, where can I learn about all these components?


    Thanks for the answers, guys!
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Mama's right—read!

    Sticking my silly oar in here, but I suspect a given author writes 'well' if you enjoy reading what they've written.

    Digging into a wide range of reading material is not going to harm you, but you'll want to write in a style you like to read.

    I understand why he's considered to be a great writer, but I would rather be boiled in oil than write like Ernest Hemmingway. I've read loads of what he's written (usually at gunpoint—me, not him!), have spent yonks 'analyzing' his output in high school and university classes, and I still don't enjoy reading him. So I don't want to write like him either.

    Just find published writers whom you enjoy reading—whatever their genre and/or 'worthiness'—and read lots of their stuff. You'll start to get a feel for what they're doing. By all means, study the basics as well—there's no end of material out there to help you learn—but there is no substitute for reading, to bounce you into writing mode. I think Mammamaia is right. You need to read.

    You really REALLY need to read!
     
  8. archerfenris
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    archerfenris Active Member

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    And here I was thinking the POINT of writing was to invoke emmotion. Huh, crazy.
     
  9. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    There's a thread somewhere in the Book Discussion section about how we determine the quality of art. It's worth reading through if you're really interested. I won't go into that here, but I will say that I agree with the others. You should read more stories/novels. You'll eventually develop your own tastes and an eye for what works and what doesn't.
     
  10. Rimuel
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    Rimuel Member

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    Well, if it's about reading authors whose work you like, I think that will be simple enough. I have been reading in the past, it's just that I don't do it as often now.


    [MENTION=5272]thirdwind[/MENTION]:

    OK, thanks for the tip! I'll go and find that thread.


    [MENTION=54545]archerfenris[/MENTION]:

    I'm talking about the process of getting your book sold to those who have never read your works. First, you need to advertise your book, and the fastest way to get your book sold is to appeal to those three things. Once you have sold some good books, you will have created a reputation and a customer base. But in order to expand the number of sales, once again you need to make more people aware of your work. Again, advertising is necessary.

    Of course, stories do invoke emotions, but being a bestseller requires good advertising as well, not just having a heartfelt story.
     
  11. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Here is the thread, so you don't have to search for it.
     
  12. Rimuel
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    Rimuel Member

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    Thanks! I searched through 5 pages in that section but couldn't find any titles...:p
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you have good reading skills [good grammar, knowlege of punctuation rules, etc. and good reading comprehension], the difference will be obvious...

    but even if you don't, so don't know how to tell the difference, authors who write well are easy enough to find... there are universally-accepted lists of their works... google for '100 best short stories/novels of all time' for titles chosen by those who do know how to tell the difference between merely 'popular' sales-wise and 'good/best' writing-wise...

    as for reading less than good/best for contrast, till your grammar and all the other basics of good writing are up to par, so you've learned how to tell which is which, it's best to stick to the best... after reading enough of it long enough, lesser quality will start to stick out like a sore thumb...
     
  14. Rimuel
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    Rimuel Member

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    Right. I thought that was what you meant. I will be brushing up on syntax so it'll be fine. Thanks.
     
  15. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with read, read, read. I do think you can learn something from popular authors even if they are mediocre "writers." And I don't just mean things to avoid. Very popular writers have managed to engage a huge number of readers. They're generally doing something right, and that's telling a story that is engaging enough to make people want to keep reading and clamor for more. If the writing quality is low, they've done something else well enough to inspire a loyal readership despite that. You can learn from that aspect of those works and learn quality technical skills from others. If the two happen to overlap, so much the better.
     

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