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  1. waitingforzion

    waitingforzion Active Member

    Dec 13, 2009
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    Writing Modern Prose

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by waitingforzion, Jan 3, 2011.

    I know how to write essays according to college academic standards, or at least that is what I believe to have learned during my first semester in college. It is not entirely difficult for me to supply the structure of an essay and to write it, provided I do it with a keyboard instead of a pen, and provided I have enough time. As for short stories, however, I do not understand the appropriate structure, nor do I understand its elements, nor do I understand any narrative style. I must confess that the only narrative style impressed on me heavily is that of the Bible, and I have not read so much of other narratives. This seems to influence any attempt of mine at a narrative, so that at some point I begin to fail what would be a modern day audience, and end up sounding quite weird. So I want to know, what are some good free resources available online that can educate me on the writing of modern prose. I want to write with a heavy voice, but I want to write with a natural one just as much.
  2. Elgaisma

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Jun 12, 2010
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    I write my short stories in a very similar manner to my academic essays. A good academic essay will have a beginning, middle and an end, telling the story of the evidence and drawing conclusions.

    Likewise a fiction piece has a beginning, a middle and an end, telling the story of the characters and their interaction and relevance to the world around them. You draw conclusions by showing how they react, change and grow.

    However reading a varied collections of texts helps - I love the bible but I understand it better having read other texts,
  3. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Jul 11, 2010
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    Near Los Angeles
    This question has a very obvious answer. Read modern prose. Read modern fiction. If you don't want to pay for it, go borrow it from the library.

    Which authors should you read? Well, there are threads around here about what people are currently reading. Look up who's winning prizes these days, like the Pulitzer or the Man Booker prize, or others. Look who's on the bestseller lists - they might not be really good, but they are popular these days.

    Just read modern prose. There's plenty of it around and it's NOT hard to find.
  4. Trilby

    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

    Jun 21, 2010
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    NE England
    A story needs conflict. No conflict = No story.
    You are also better to show rather than tell. Don't just say, Claire was a shoplifter. Show us. e.g. Claire, carrying a broadsheet newspaper and fully aware of the security cameras, edged her way along the wine counter...
    Well you get the idea.
    As for prose, keep reading and keep on writing and you will develop your own voice.
    Good luck.
  5. digitig

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 21, 2010
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    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Thing is, there is definitely a structure for academic essays, and they all follow pretty much that same structure (at least, the ones that get good marks do). There is not a structure for prose fiction; it's much more creative than academic essays and it's up to the author to invent a structure that works for their voice and the story they're telling. You could look up the classic dramatic structure, with exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement, but be aware that most modern fiction messes with that in one way or another, and in anything but a short story you're going to have multiple story arcs so even if they all follow the classical structure you're going to have to work out how to interleave them.
  6. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    ditto that!... it's the only way you'll learn how to write fiction... the only way to learn how to write anything is to read the best of it... isn't that how you first learned what a good essay is?

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