Creativity, Fiction, Poetry, Writing

Writing fiction that doesn’t suck

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That title may be unceremonious but, in general, I continue to be largely bored by my fiction-writing attempts, and I’ve gained a few insights along the way.

  1. Back story is not the same as a good story. As I write on a daily basis for at least an hour each morning, I’m realizing that most of what makes it to the page is back story about the characters, not the actions in which they are engaged. Thus, my sense of boredom is very real…because they are not doing anything. ¬†I am getting to know them better and that is entertaining, but as far as compiling a story with these people, not much has actually happened yet.
  2. A literary style is probably more my thing. One of my pieces from earlier this month is largely a string of consciousness with key events mentioned along the way, giving it structure. Poetry’s my girl. Can I just write poems in story form?
  3. A process has emerged that works for me. I think. Mostly, my first drafts are proving to be boring beyond boring. Going over them a second and then a third time, rewriting paragraphs and making the language more interesting, accurate, and descriptive along the way seems to be working for me. However, this only addresses the writing style, not the actual plotting of events. Any tips on plotting would be appreciated. I keep waiting for the characters to come alive in my mind and start doing things. I will give myself over to you and let you write yourselves into life, but for the love of all things, don’t make me do it for you.
  4. I need to read more. My life has revolved around textbooks for years. It’s no wonder my imagination is shit right now. A synthesis of interests and artistry will be good to have, eventually. Reading Toni Morrison these days is watering my brain in all the right ways.

So, one month in, there has been improvement, insight, and all that exciting personal growth stuff. (yikes!)

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Creativity, Editing, Fiction, Poetry, Self-Medicating, WIPpets, Writing

Update on the writing life: Month #1

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It has been one month today since undertaking the goal to complete 52 short stories in 52 weeks. I am nowhere near meeting it but I do feel encouraged by what has happened in the past 29 days.

  • 3 & 1/2 rough drafts of stories on their way to completion
  • 2 drafts of poetry
  • 1 submission of poetry to HOOT literary magazine
  • 1 sketch (a portrait)
  • 1 plan to self-publish my first manuscript of poetry, The Latent Talent of Conception
  • Participation for the first time in a “write-in,” six of us scrawling/typing a total of 8,114 words in each other’s company
  • Only one half of one book read: Sula by Toni Morrison
  • Subscription to Duotrope for manuscript submissions and tracking
  • Subscriptions to¬†Glimmer Train and Alaska Quarterly Review
  • So many cups of coffee and Americanos. Black.

I continue to find fiction more challenging than enjoyable to write. However, a process is unfolding and it’s getting easier and even fun!

Last night, during four separate sprints in which we wrote continuously in chunks of 20 minutes, I hashed out about 400 words at a time and then returned to add layer upon layer of detail and interest until I could read it without dying of boredom.

As evidenced by my list above, I have a problem finishing stories. On a side note, I write boring plots and characters; I have little imagination.

However…it does seem to be getting a teeny bit easier and the writing has improved.

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Creativity, Fiction, Writing

52 short stories in 52 weeks

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Fiction has never come naturally for me; I think I’m afraid of it.

Baring my interior bones and guts has always seemed easier as an essay or poem, clearly or not so clearly structured, with details which start in a specific place and end not too far off in the distance.

My imagination is underdeveloped and underutilized. My thinking seldom wanders and tends toward black and white. It assesses, plans, implements.

Thus, when I see this quote by Ray Bradbury, I immediately view it as a challenge.

A friend recently suggested that Mr. Bradbury did not intend this statement as a challenge, and that’s true.

But the possibilities of this type of active, ongoing practice of writing can’t help but excite and motivate me.

What if one were to commit to this type of writing, a story each week, this frequent and consistent practice of the craft of short fiction?

Regardless of the outcome, I can’t help but appreciate the inevitable growth as a writer and person that might/must result. I hope my writing will improve. I hope my imagination will flourish more than it has. I hope all 52 stories aren’t crap. Mr. Bradbury reassures me there will be at least one good one.

Let’s find it.

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