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Instant Test Of a Good Fiction Writer

November 1, 2009 1 comment

Step 1: Write down on a piece of paper, in no more than 15 words, what you think is your purpose as a writer, what you try to achieve when you’re writing.
EAP
Step 2: read the following, from Edgar Allen Poe:

“A skilful literary artist has constructed a tale. If he is wise, he has not fashioned his thoughts to accommodate his incidents; but having conceived, with deliberate care, a certain unique or single effect to be wrought out, he then invents such incidents – he then combines such events as may best aid him in establishing this preconceived effect.

“If his very initial sentence tends not to the outbringing of this effect, then he has failed in his first step. In the whole composition there should be no word written of which the tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the one pre-established design.

“As by such means, with such care and skill, a picture is at length painted which leaves in the mind of him who contemplates it with a kindred art a sense of the fullest satisfaction.”

Poe was saying this: the reader wants to feel emotion, and it is the writer’s job to create that emotion through their writing and the structure of their work (whatever kind of writing, theatre or music it may be). Note the crucial point: We are concentrating on the reader’s emotion, not the writer’s. What you feel is unimportant, except in that it is the basis what makes you write.

Step 3: Look at what you wrote on your piece of paper. If it was something about how writing does something for you, a form of self-expression, maybe, rather than something aimed at the reader’s emotion, go back to Step 1. 😉

Step 4: Download a copy of Michael Allen’s (free) The Truth About Writing and discover how your writing can serve your purpose in a much more controlled an understandable way.

Step 5: Start a new novel.

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Categories: Technique Tags: , ,