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Thread: Anyone here writing short fiction? Any writing book Reccomendations

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    swords's Avatar
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    Anyone here writing short fiction? Any writing book Reccomendations

    A while ago I was brainstorming on a new sculpture series I want to do. I started writing up detailed descriptions of the characters I wanted to sculpt, kind of to give me a better mental picture of them before sculpting. This little diversion lead to working on expanding some of the descriptions into short stories in which they could appear and do stuff and have stuff happen to them. So now I'm working on making the stories read properly with a final goal of submitting them to Weird Tales, Realms of Fantasy, etc.

    My specific interests for writing are short stories of supernatural fiction and Sword & Sorcery adventures - the classic pulpy stuff - the only stuff I read. I'm not interested in avantgarde wordsmithery that lays bare the soul of the world, I just wanna make stuff that's fun to read but I wanna do it properly. I'll leave the deconstruction of a teardrop to the true arteests...

    So, I've been buying a series of Elements of Fiction books published by Writers Digest which detail specific topics like: Plot & Setting, Description, Dialogue, Charachter Archetypes, Conflict, Action and Suspense, Character Emotion, etc. These seem very helpful but I was wondering if anyone else here is doing some writing, specifically short fiction and what books you might recommend? There's tons of those cheesy "How to write a bestseller in 30 days, A successful novel the easy way, Your story will make you rich, etc" books out there, I'm not interested in those kinds. But books that you've found helpful I'd be interested to hear about.

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    i made a picture book in 3rd grade. I think you could categorize it as fiction....

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    Hello, I must be going... Not a Number's Avatar
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    You might give Robert McKee's Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting. While geared towards screenwriting his priciples on story structure are universal to fiction. All the studios send their writers to his seminars. If you saw the Spike Jonze movie "Adaptation" they lampooned him (as well as purposely breaking a few of his 10 commandments) in the film but the characterization of him was spot on.

    Bob McKee's Ten Commandments of Writing:


    ONE: Thou shalt not take the crisis/climax out of the protagonists' hands. The anti-deus ex machina commandment. No surprises!

    TWO: Thou shalt not make life easy for the protagonist. Nothing progresses in a story, except through conflict. And not just physical conflict.

    THREE: Thou shalt not give exposition for strictly exposition's sake. Dramatize it. Convert exposition to ammunition. Use it to turn the ending of a scene, to further the conflict.

    FOUR: Thou shalt not use false mystery or cheap surprise. Don't conceal anything important that the protagonist knows. Keep us in step with him/ her.We know what s/he knows.

    FIVE: Thou shalt respect your audience. The anti-hack commandment. Not all readers know your character. Very important.

    SIX: Thou shalt know your world as God knows this one.The pro- research commandment.

    SEVEN: Thou shalt not complicate when complexity is better. Don't multiply the complications on one level. Use all three: Intra-Personal, Inter-Personal, Extra-Personal

    EIGHT: Thou shalt seek the end of the line, the negation of the negation, taking characters to the farthest reaches and depth of conflict imaginable within the story's own realm of probability.

    NINE: Thou shalt not write on the nose. Put a sub text under every text.

    TEN: Thou shalt rewrite.

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    swords's Avatar
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    Thanks NaN, I'll see if I can find it at a shop so I can look it over. Have you read it - are you working on some writing as well?
    Isn't "Adaption" the movie take on The Orchid Thief? I read the book but haven't seen the film yet.

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    Hello, I must be going... Not a Number's Avatar
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    Yes, "Adaptation" is based on "The Orchid Thief". I've not read the book but it is on my to read list.

    I have McKee's book. I also took his seminar in 1988 or 1989. There were only 30-40 people in the seminar unlike the hundreds portrayed in the movie. Maybe it's like that today, I don't know. He started out doing them from his home with maybe 10 people. Among the people in the seminar I attended was a group from Disney working on the "Winnie the Pooh" TV series and Kirk Douglas. I got him to autograph his book "The Ragman's Son" which was a best seller at the time.

    I've dabbled in writing in the past.

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    Honestly, the best thing you can do to improve writing is simply read. Read everything you can, and think about it. If something seems off in a book, think about why. If something works well, figure out how the author put it together. And simply notice what works.

    Also, and it's a bit odd, I find that role-playing games help a lot, especially when they aren't the hack-and-slash sort. They teach you to invent a character and then 'play' them through the book, which IME reduces annoying instances of 'breaking character' to accomplish some plot point.

    Mokele
    \"With malleus aforethought, mammals got an earful of their ancestor's jaw.\"
    --J. Burns, on the evolution of auditory ossicles.

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    Doing it wrong until I do it right. xvart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mokele View Post
    Also, and it's a bit odd, I find that role-playing games help a lot, especially when they aren't the hack-and-slash sort. They teach you to invent a character and then 'play' them through the book, which IME reduces annoying instances of 'breaking character' to accomplish some plot point.
    This is very true. My DM friend growing up wrote lots of great stories based on our "adventures." He also crafted some great comics and other mediums of storytelling.

    xvart.
    "The tragedy of life is not that every man loses; but that he almost wins."

    "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

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    Moderator Schmoderator Fluorescent fluorite, England PlantAKiss's Avatar
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    When I was like 6, I co-authored a horror "short story" with my brother. It was called "Give Me Back My Toe." It was indeed short (about 5 sentences) and was never published. In fact, I don't think anyone ever heard our toe tale since it was concocted in about 5 minutes trying to scare ourselves down in the basement.
    "Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." - Jerome K. Jerome

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