Some More Ideas About How To Write Fiction

January 9, 2011 by  
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Some More Ideas About How To Write Fiction

Some More Ideas About How To Write Fiction


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Home Page > Writing > Some More Ideas About How To Write Fiction

Some More Ideas About How To Write Fiction

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The most important thing about writing is structure. You cannot just rush into a piece of writing without some feeling for the form of what you are going to write. Of course it’s a great idea to zoom off a few inspired pages, but then you do have to stop and think. Where’s the start, what’s the story, what’s going to be the gripping climax? Tchaikovsky used to paste his music around the walls of his room to see the structure. A piece of music is like a book: you only experience one part of it at once. So every bit must be carefully scrutinized, honed, perfected to fit with every other piece. The story line can let you up and down: but keep the tension – or the reader will start to snore. Think how in Macbeth the tension is maintained.

Suggestion 1. You need to introduce your characters, or mice, or subatomic particles, or whatever it is that you are writing about. A single line can sometimes do it very nicely. I want to quote from a very short story (a “nanostory”) written by a school pupil whom I know. The story started: “There was an old lady at an old-age home.” This immediately conjures up a picture, a different picture for everybody no doubt, but nevertheless, you are there with the old lady.

Suggestion 2. The story itself, after the start, must have, a middle and an end. From the same story: “Her passion was to look out of the window watching the sun go up and down over the North Sea. She had been watching for many years now, but she never got tired of it.” The middle: “It was the highlight of the day and the thing which kept her alive. But one day a new modern building came right in front of her window.” The end: “The old lady died a week later.” Perfect! A couple more examples: the first: “On a sleepy, sunny afternoon I was sitting on the banks of a canal, when a barge came chugging gently towards me. On the deck sat an old man smoking a pipe. As the barge approached, it began slowly to sink and as it passed by, the water was already lapping about the old man’s legs. The canal turned a corner and the last I saw was the bowl of the old man’s pipe sticking out of the water like a periscope.”

The second: “Driving along a country road in late twilight I saw a mole on the tarmac. The poor creature was stunned and it needed somewhere warm and cozy, so I placed it in my left shoe. This tumbled over at a corner and the mole, now wide awake, scuttled out and hid under the clutch pedal. The traffic lights turned to red in front of me and I slowed down changing into third. The next car that I buy will be an automatic, so that this can never happen again.” All are nicely structured and they work, even if they are very, very short!

The next thing is style. Style’s thing of most importance is intelligibly to clearly express what it, or he, or she, or maybe a cat or dog, would think if they had had the brains to talk or they wanted, in a manner of speaking, to express it or whatever it was.

Suggestion 1: write so that people can understand what you want to say.

Suggestion 2: grab the reader’s imagination from the first line of the start of the work. For example: “The dog bit him on the ankle so hard that he screamed in agony…” or “He was the most gorgeous man she had ever met, but, and it was a big but, he had a big butt…etc.” For comparison you might try to write the most boring first line possible: “There had been a small earthquake in the north of Chile. No buildings had fallen and nobody was hurt…”

Suggestion 3: Try and keep it simple. This is what the reader has come to expect in the 21st century. Do not indulge yourself in great flights of florid language stretching like geese across a lurid sunset, mixing images like geese and florid – when did you last see a flowery goose? Try to avoid doing this and other horrid things with the English language. Avoid ‘purple passages’: one example from that wonderful novel ‘She’ by Rider Haggard is enough: “quivering footsteps of the dawn came rushing across the new-born blue and shook the high stars from their places… From the east to the west sped the angels of the Dawn, from sea to sea, from mountain top to mountain top scattering light with both their hands. On they sped out of the darkness, perfect, glorious, like spirits of the just breaking from the tomb…It was a wonderfully beautiful sight, and yet sad, perhaps from the very excess of its beauty…. etc. etc.” In other words, the sun rose.

(Originally published at GoArticles and reprinted with permission from the author, David Field).

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David Field
About the Author:

David Field is a professor of Astrophysics at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. He has published numerous articles in many Astronomy and Physics journals. His most recent novel, The Fairest Star, the third installment of his Friends and Enemies Trilogy, has just been published. For more information, please visit: David Field.

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David Field is a professor of Astrophysics at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. He has published numerous articles in many Astronomy and Physics journals. His most recent novel, The Fairest Star, the third installment of his Friends and Enemies Trilogy, has just been published. For more information, please visit: David Field.

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