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Fiction Writing Beginner Question

If Fiction is your forte, this is the forum for you. This is the place to share information and get help on the road to writing the next great novel.

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rtodd5011
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Fiction Writing Beginner Question

Postby rtodd5011 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:13 pm

I am trying to get into writing fiction story, but it sounds too much like... he said or she said... What I am working up lately sounds more like a screen play, other than a fiction writing. I guess there is no clean cut way to develop characters without going somewhat into their history. I hope this makes sense. I have entered my first fiction writing into the weekly challenge. I am wanting to do more fiction writing, but coming up against some tough challenges. Can anyone give me some insight into the questions I have?
God Bless,
Rtodd (Rich)

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Re: Fiction Writing Beginner Question

Postby glorybee » Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:30 am

Rich, I'd like to see a sample of your writing, to get a better idea of what you're asking. After the results have been posted for the week you entered the challenge, why don't you leave a link here, and I'll take a look at it? Or you could copy and paste a few hundred words of some other bit of your writing in this thread (not the current challenge entry, though). It's hard to answer your question without seeing a bit of your actual writing.

You might also study some of the winning entries in Masters to see how good fiction writers approach the balance of dialog and back story.
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Re: Fiction Writing Beginner Question

Postby Hoomi » Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:46 pm

Good dialogue certainly can make a fiction story better, but I suspect your comment about "he said, she said," may have more to do with POV that structure.

One thing we have in fiction is the ability to tell different parts of the story from the perspective of different characters. It's not just "he said, she said," but the magic of being able to take the reader directly into the mind of the character whose POV we're telling from at that point. This allows the reader to not only take it from what the character says, but also from what they really think and perceive. We can show if the character is merely understanding the situation wrong, or if they are outright lying.

Don't spend too much time building the character's history at the start. Too much backstory before the real story begins, and you stand a high chance of the reader losing interest. Add the history at appropriate places during the story, either as recollections in the character's mind, or as answers to questions from other characters. Remember, too, that if we tell the story authoritatively, and give characters the reader wants to care about, we can present the character almost any way we want.

One of the best things to remember, though, is to spend lots of time with your characters in your mind. Let them grow and develop in their own way. When they start to take on a life of their own for you, they'll be alive to the reader. Above all, love your characters, because if you don't, no one else will, either.
“It is the artist who realizes that there is a supreme force above him and works gladly away as a small apprentice under God's heaven.” ~ Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

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Re: Fiction Writing Beginner Question

Postby rtodd5011 » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:05 am

Friday, I will post what I had worked on earlier this week. Even though I axed the idea and story i would still like to post it here and learn something from it for future reference. I just felt like I could not do the four characters in my story justice with a 750 word limit. You are right it was about giving the characters some kind of background before dialog with other characters. Hope this makes sense.
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Rtodd (Rich)

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Re: Fiction Writing Beginner Question

Postby Writetrack » Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:21 am

Here's an article on dialogue that may help by author and "snowflake guy" Randy Ingermanson: http://www.examiner.com/article/randy-i ... n-dialogue

Tags like "he said" or "she exclaimed" can be used sparingly, but too many make the story too robotic and stiffen the dialogue. Most authors are using action tags to move the story along. Think not only about what your characters are saying, but what they are doing. Most real conversations do not just take place without movement. Someone takes a sip of coffee...gestures...walks across the room...leans against the counter... This allows the reader to get a better picture of the scene.

I suggest studying some of the conversations in recent fiction books you have on your shelf to get a better understanding of how action tags work. Here's a great article I found on differentiating between the two:

http://reenajacobs.com/blog/2010/01/dia ... tion-tags/

:D

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Re: Fiction Writing Beginner Question

Postby rtodd5011 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:21 am

You know I revised the story and in the last minute went ahead and submitted it for the key challenge. I would still like for you all to see and and give me some imput for future fiction writings. WHen the brick throwing starts I will post it here too and you can read it and even use the comment section to red ink it. Im interested in what you all have to say. Richard
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Rtodd (Rich)

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Re: Fiction Writing Beginner Question

Postby Shann » Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:45 pm

One thing with the back story and a longer piece is you can introduce the information gradually but with only 750 words it's harder to do. So go through and take out the things that aren't necessary to yhe story like is there any reason the reader needs to know that the MC has blue eyes, red hair, and grew up in a small town? Now if she is in a city and terrified of the crowds, the small town bit would be important. What if someone saw her and thought it was her but then noticed her eyes looked brown? Then the fact that she has blue eyes and is hiding it would be important.

Writers will think logically and if the story starts off in an apartment but the climax is at work, sometimes new writers will add every detail about her looking at the clock realizing it's late so she searches for her keys runs to her car and speeds off to work. It's details that can be substituted with Later when she arrived at work,

Another thing to do is instead of using she said. insert information that shows the reader the emotions or personality of the MC like "What are you doing here?" Melissa glared at the man as she backed up until she bumped into the wall.

That hopefully shows she is surprised and a bit afraid and it also lets the reader know who is speaking.

But sometimes a new writer can get hooked into the showing and do too much like this:
"How was your day?" Melissa took the dinner from the oven.

Chad pulled out the chair and sat down. "The boss yelled at me/"

His wife scoop a pile of mashed potatoes on his plate. "Do you think you'll get fired?"

Things like putting dinner on isn't important in this story; instead it would have been good to give hints to their emotions or just simply say she said.

I hope this helps some. Your first foray into fiction was awesome and you placed 6th in level one so you are definitely getting there and Jan (GloryBee) and the others are all awesome writers themselves so you've definitely come to the correct place!
Shann

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rtodd5011
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Re: Fiction Writing Beginner Question

Postby rtodd5011 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:05 pm

Thanks Shann, that does help. Its good to see you back on the forum.
God Bless,
Rtodd (Rich)

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Re: Fiction Writing Beginner Question

Postby rtodd5011 » Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:31 pm

Here is the story that almost that never was. If it were not for some prayers, i would not have finished it or entered this weeks contest. RED INK WELCOME. Im still in the early learning stages, so any advice for improvement would be appreciated. Thanks alot.

The Dream
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Rtodd (Rich)

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Re: Fiction Writing Beginner Question

Postby violin4jesus » Sun Feb 24, 2013 4:42 am

It's okay to use "said" a few times. You don't always have to have an action, or a synonym for "said" attached to every piece of dialogue. Also, if two people are talking, you can just alternate their words, as long as you throw in an action here and there to indicate who's speaking, just to help the reader keep them straight.

Check out Jan's Master Class (or is it Writing Basics?) in the forums on the topic of dialogue. That particular lesson has multiple examples of how to write effective dialogue.

One trick I suggest is to read your piece aloud. Sometimes when you hear it spoken, you can catch the mistakes. Go over it with a fine toothed comb, reading and rereading, observing carefully the punctuation and choice of words. You may need someone with an editorial mind to help you with a few entries just to get used to what's expected and what to look out for.

Your piece has a great message, and ties in nicely with the topic. It's got several grammatical errors, and reads a little choppy (maybe too many scenes), but it's got great potential. If you want a line-by-line critique, let me know. I can carve out a little time to show you what you need to work on.

Keep writing! You can do it. :thumbs

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Re: Fiction Writing Beginner Question

Postby rtodd5011 » Sun Feb 24, 2013 10:06 am

Thank you for the great tips Leah. Everyone has been right on with what they have told me so far. It is making me into a better proof reader for myself. On my latest entry for this next Thursday, I have used several of the techiques, and I am learning to really see my mistakes. I am still finding that I am using passive words or verbs, going back and reworking the sentence structure to active is quiet difficult for me not sure why.
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Rtodd (Rich)

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Re: Fiction Writing Beginner Question

Postby Hoomi » Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:43 am

Writing is like any of the arts - the more you practice, the better you will get. While musicians have the rehearsal room, painters have the sketch pad and the "study," and so on, writers have the "draft." We get to go back and find our goofs and revise the story before we consider it a finished work.

One other piece of advice - I don't know if you have this problem, but I know I did on my first novel-length manuscript. An experienced writer told me one night to throw away my Thesaurus. His reasoning was that the typical reader is not going to consult a dictionary to look up words they do not understand, and if there's too much "over their heads," they'll just quit reading it altogether. Use words that people are familiar with for the most part, and if you do use some odd words, keep them sparse, or work a definition into the dialogue.

I didn't throw away my Thesaurus, but I did set it aside. I realized I was having too much fun with it, looking up cool and obscure words. Just because I loved new vocabulary, doesn't mean my readers would. Mostly, I use it now when I need to mix in a different term so that I don't end up repeating the same word too many times.
“It is the artist who realizes that there is a supreme force above him and works gladly away as a small apprentice under God's heaven.” ~ Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

Marta's Pod, the sequel to Cardan's Pod, on Kickstarter now.


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