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Creative writing fiction

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  1. Creative Writing: Fiction

  2. Some argue that every story has already been told. Indeed, finding truly novel facets of experience to explore is challenging. What can you do? Tell ‘old’ stories differently. Shakespeare did. For Romeo and Juliet, he revamped an Italian precursor. • Let’s look at options. • POV • Point of view is narrative perspective. In first-person stories, narrators are characters who recount events using ‘I’. In second, narrators address the audience directly (using ‘you’). In third, narrators are outsiders, telling the stories from the perspective of one or many characters (using ‘he/she/they’).

  3. Which is best? • First facilitates connection with readers, offering a 360 view of a single character and his/her world. You can use first to play with narrative reliability. Narrators tell stories through a multifaceted filter formed by age, biases, emotions, experience, and mental health status, among others. They can even lie. • Second is definitely novel, pulling readers completely into the story. However, maintaining this perspective is difficult. Alternately, you can use first or third and occasionally break the fourth wall to address readers.

  4. Third allows writers to offer more complete, ‘truthful’ stories. However, you need to move from one character’s head into another’s sparingly and offer a transition to tip readers off. You can use breaks in the text (asterisks or new chapters), or you can have characters whose heads you’re about to visit look at something to indicate you’ll highlight their perspective. Using italics and regular type can help you present two perspectives of one event without describing it twice. • Verb Tense • Past: Readers don’t even blink at stories in this tense, which might matter if the story is far removed from the present, if the story COULD NOT happen now. • Present: The present offers novelty, giving the story a sense of immediacy (this is happening right now) and even universality (this happens to people).

  5. Showing vs. Telling • Visual media focus on showing. Viewers see the setting, characters’ appearance, and actions and hear conversations. But they’re rarely privy to characters’ thoughts and feelings. Screenwriters try but mostly fail to bridge this gap through journal entries and/or voiceovers. This gives writers an edge. Only through the written word can creators fully explore a person’s psyche. Shoot for a 50-50 mix. • More tips • 1. Less is more. When describing, use a few interesting details and don’t always rely on sight. Use texture, taste, smell, and/or hearing. • 2. Play with synesthesia (sense mixing). Use a sound to describe a feeling. Maybe a character’s shiver feels like the ring of a phone.

  6. 3. Share information in different ways. Use not only dialogue and straight description but also dreams, fantasies, flashbacks/flash forwards, journal entries, etc. • 4. Incorporate new media. Readers likely use Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, and texting, among others. Including Face book status and/or updates, tweets, descriptions of YouTube videos, and text or instant messenger conversations is refreshing and helps readers connect. • 5. Pick descriptive verbs. Instead of walk, use trudge, strut, stride, float, slink, stroll, shuffle, skulk, march, stagger, or lumber. • Happy experimenting!

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