Monday, March 31, 2008

Write Relevant Dialogue

Your story has just begun. The conflict is terrible, the plot superb, and the characters fascinating. It's time for the major scene, bringing together arch-nemesci in the same setting: the protagonist and antagonist. To pull off the ensuing confrontation, you'll need dialogue.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Setting to Illustrate Conflict and Character

I remember setting as the bread and butter of my days in Reading class. Setting was the most wonderful (and most analyzed) part of every fiction story we read. Were there trees? What did they look like? How do they make you feel?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Losing Your Voice

I don't let my mom read my stories. I once made the mistake of letting her read one, and then for years afterward she used that story as part of the reason why I shouldn't write. Granted, that one story had problems - many problems. The first glaring error my mom noticed was that the medical information was completely bogus. I had made up a disease and put it in my story, and my mom - a very experienced nurse - could tell right away that the disease had no basis whatsoever in fact. Besides that, though, the story didn't speak to my mom. She wasn't enthralled, wasn't thrilled, couldn't see those words showing up on a bookstore shelf.

As you work on your own writing, you want to make sure the negative opinions of others don't cause you to lose your own voice as a writer.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Elin O'Hara Slavick on Creativity

Today, National Public Radio's "The State of Things" featured photographer and activist Elin O'Hara Slavick. This was my first introduction to the artist, but her commentary provides very revealing insight regarding the creative process. One of her comments that sticks with me is the sentiment that if you look too hard for your memories, you won't find them. You have to rely on the memories that come to the surface, even if they're inaccurate or twisted by time.

During this interview, Professor Slavick also discusses her role in attempting to foster more peaceful - and productive - reactions to September 11th and the roles of social and financial concerns in the making of art. I highly recommend this program as a look at the artistic process. Although Slavick herself focuses on photography and social activism, many parallels can be drawn with writing.

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About Ryan Edel

Writing through Distraction

Freewriting's open, free-form structure is great for the office, the beach, the classroom - anywhere you go that allows only snatches of time to write your story. Since the free-write is usually not intended as a marketable story, you don't have to worry about typos or smudges or whether you can concentrate enough to make the story "good." But it still takes concentration to write, especially to "get in the groove" and write fast.

This is where your real-world setting can pose some problems - the distractions around you may threaten to short-circuit your creative process.  Fighting the distraction often makes things worse - using these distractions to your advantage, on the other hand, can actually help generate new ideas.