Nancy Kress Quotes
All writers, in all viewpoints, must choose which information and scenes will be presented, and in which order. In that sense, the author is always represented as a point of view in a work of fiction. His hand can always be detected by the discerning.
Conflict drives fiction; no one wants to read a four-hundred-page novel in which everything rolls along smoothly.
Readers want to see, hear, feel, smell the action of your story, even if that action is just two people having a quiet conversation.
Words change over time. 'Condescending,' for instance, was once a good thing to be. It meant that a person was willing to interact politely with people of lower social ranks. In Jane Austen's world, a lady praised for her condescension was receiving a sincere compliment.
Before the scene, before the paragraph, even before the sentence, comes the word. Individual words and phrases are the building blocks of fiction, the genes that generate everything else. Use the right words, and your fiction can blossom. The French have a phrase for it - le mot juste - the exact right word in the exact right position.
Pace, like everything else in writing, involves a trade-off. If you're not offering the reader a lot of action to keep her interested, you must offer something else in its stead. Slow pace is ideal for complex character development, detailed description, and nuances of style.
The reader is going to imprint on the characters he sees first. He is going to expect to see these people often, to have them figure largely into the story, possibly to care about them. Usually, this will be the protagonist.
Novels have much more space than short stories, which gives you more leeway with the number of characters you can include. Even 'furniture' characters can be described and given speaking parts to develop background or atmosphere.
Exposition has legitimate uses. It's the most efficient way to summarize background information, including necessary information about a character's history. It can set the stage well for a major dramatized event.
You have considerable choice in how you end your fiction. For all stories, the basic rule is the same: Choose the type of ending that best suits what's gone before.
For commercial books in a genre, readers' and editors' expectations may be fairly rigid. Some romance lines, for instance, issue fairly detailed writers' guidelines explaining exactly what must happen in a book they publish (and what must not).
The most-asked question when someone describes a novel, movie or short story to a friend probably is, 'How does it end?' Endings carry tremendous weight with readers; if they don't like the ending, chances are they'll say they didn't like the work. Failed endings are also the most common problems editors have with submitted works.
Your opening should give the reader a person to focus on. In a short story, this person should turn up almost immediately; he should be integral to the story's main action; he should be an individual, not just a type. In a novel, the main character may take longer to appear: Anna Karenina doesn't show up in her own novel until chapter eighteen.
The worldview implied by literary fiction is complex and ambiguous, trying to be faithful to the complexity and ambiguity of life.
Readers want to visualize your story as they read it. The more exact words you give them, the more clearly they see it, smell it, hear it, taste it. Thus, a dog should be an 'Airedale,' not just a 'dog.' A taste should not be merely 'good' but 'creamy and sweet' or 'sharply salty' or 'buttery on the tongue.'
How many times have you opened a book, read the first few sentences and made a snap decision about whether to buy it? When it's your book that's coming under this casual-but-critical scrutiny, you want the reader to be instantly hooked. The way to accomplish this is to create compelling opening sentences.
The truth is, you have about three paragraphs in a short story, three pages in a novel, to capture that editor's attention enough for her to finish your story.
If you're writing a thriller, mystery, Western or adventure-driven book, you'd better keep things moving rapidly for the reader. Quick pacing is vital in certain genres. It hooks readers, creates tension, deepens the drama, and speeds things along.
Every drama requires a cast. The cast may be so huge, as in Leo Tolstoy's 'Anna Karenina,' that the author or editor provides a list of characters to keep them straight. Or it may be an intimate cast of two.
Showing 1 to 20 of 46 results