Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Prompts for Fiction-Writing Faults

Ezra Pound said, “Good writers are those who keep the language efficient. 
When you need to consider what works for you and what will appeal to your intended readership, think of the four questions George Orwell says you must ask about your style.  
 
a.  What am I trying to say?                  
 
b.  What words will express it? 

c.  What image will make it clearer?    
 
d.  Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

Here is a checklist for the most common fiction faults: 

Ezra Pound by Alvin Langdon Coburn

a.   Beginning too slow?  Have you hooked?

b.  Character/s are not sufficiently rounded.  We don’t care what happens to them.

c.  The story has no shape.  A series of episodes isn’t a story.  You need conflict, change and growth.

d.  Character’s problem wasn’t strong enough to sustain the tension.

e.  Time-span was too long.

f.  Too many characters.  Are they all necessary?

g.  Story seems contrived.  Sincerity counts.

h.  Too much description or inappropriate lyricism.

i.   Rigid dialogue.

j.   Irrelevant episodes.

k.  Writing not specific - words not carefully chosen.

l.   Lack of clarity.

m. Character does not solve problems by own effort.  Or, in the case of a “nasty”, cause the resolution through their own actions.

n.  You’ve worked through the above, but the story keeps coming back. Possibly, sent to the wrong markets.

o.  As above.  Wrong length to fit the slot.

p. Sadly, doesn’t fit the current fashion.  There are fashions in stories just as there are fashions in clothes.
 
I think item m. is the most routinely missed. I have seen so many stories by writing students where someone is struggling to get out of the metaphorical hole they are in, and then they win the pools, or the lottery, or come into a fortune. 

Readers want to see the character in the story being effective, not lucky.

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