So You Want to Write
How to Master the Craft of Writing Fiction and the Personal Narrative
By Marge Piercy and Ira Wood

Table of Contents

Introduction …13

What This Book is Not About: Writing Solely for Self-expression and Therapy • What This Book is About: Writing to be Published • Getting Hopelessly Lost in Journaling • Ignoring Craft:
What Doesn’t Work for Cooks Doesn’t Work for Writers

Sharpening Some of Your Innate Skills …17

The Barriers to Creativity Both Inner and Outer • What Gets Praised in One Society May Get You Locked Up in Another • Read What You Want To Write • The Myth of Success in the Arts • Conglomerate Publishing and Die Hard 56 • Your Best Energy •Accessing the Adult Mind: a Meditation on Sensual Memory • Learning to Read like a Professional Writer

The Importance of Beginnings …27

Why People Read: The Desire for Finding Patterns in Human Life • The Art of Seduction: Convincing the Reader to Start and Continue • Where to Begin Your Book • Various Beginnings and |
What They Use to Seduce the Reader: Sex • Mystery & Intrigue • Alternate Universes • History
• On Freezing Up and Being Afraid to Start • Three Rules • Exercises on Beginnings

Characterization …45

Characters We Love: A Lot is Chemistry • Three Kinds of Characterizations that Give Writers Trouble: Based on Oneself • Drawn Directly From Life • Stereotypes • Writing out of Self Hatred • How to Write about Characters We Hate: The Problem with Characters Drawn Directly from Life • The Problem with ‘Types’ • How to Re-Invigorate ‘Types’ • Finding the Character’s Yearning • The Importance of Minor Characters • Voice • Questions to Ask of Your Characters • How Not to Write as a Victim • The Character Dossier

The Uses of Dialogue …71

Dialogue as a Tool for Story Telling • The Sharp Ear for Dull Conversation • The Illusion
of Idiomatic Speech • Dialog as a Vehicle for Showing, Not Telling • Formality versus
Informality in Speech • The Jargon of Professions • Problems Reproducing the
Way People Really Speak • Dialogue Used to Reveal Character • The Importance of Tags
• Direct versus Indirect Dialog • Dialog Exercises

Plot …85

The Danger of Over-Plotting • The Quest • The ‘Inciting Incident’ and the Three Act Structure • Movies and Novels: The Problem of Confusing the Two • Plot Driven Fiction • Character Driven Fiction • Novels in which there Doesn’t Appear to be Much Going On • Conflicts • Plots of Change of Fortune & Maturing • Plot that Takes Shape in the Reader’s Mind • Endings • Exercise: Make ‘Em Suffer

Narrative Strategies in Memoir & Autobiographical Novels …107

Memoir: Life With a Shape • The Answers We Seek from Memoirs • Is My Story Interesting
Enough to Tell? • 3 Lives: The Infiltrator • The Combat Photographer • The Old Woman from Maine • What Makes Interesting Writing: The Diary • The Journal • The Memoir • Autobiographical
Fiction: How to Create Distance and Retain the Truth • Various Strategies • Exercise: the Alternate Universe

Choosing and Manipulating Viewpoint …119

3 Strategies • The Chemistry of Viewpoint Characters • Emotional Distance • Identification • Alternating Viewpoint • Trusting Your Narrator • The Transparent Narrator • The Naive Narrator • The Flawed Narrator • The Omniscient Narrator • The Uses of Multiple Viewpoint • The Pros and Cons of First, Second, Third Person Viewpoint • Locating Your Character’s Voice • Viewpoint Exercises

Description …131

Uses of Description: Characters • Societies • Satire • Attitudes • Poor Uses: Description for the Sake of Description • Using Description To Make an Emotional Point • Sensory Details • Connotative Language • Description Exercises

When You Have Research To Do …143

Large Amounts of Data • Computer Data Bases • Writers Who Don’t Research
• Interviewing • Pop Culture Stimulating Memory

A Scandal in The Family: Facing Issues of Writing about People You Love …151

The Story of The Kitchen Man: Volatile Personal Material
• 7 Points to Consider When You’re Afraid to Write about Loved Ones

Work and Other Habits: Breaking Down the Inner Barriers to Creativity …159

Critiquing without Malice & Ego • Forming Writers Groups • Problems Particular to Women who
Write • Inner Barriers Facing Men who Write • On Shame • The Importance of Reading
to Audiences • Marketing: Why Writers Must See Themselves as Entrepreneurs

Frequently Answered Questions …173

Do I Need an Agent? • How Do I Get an Agent? • Can I Make Multiple Submissions? • How Much Attention Should I Pay to Rejection Letters? • Can You Write to Get Rich? • Is Electronic Publishing the Answer? • Is it Vanity to Publish Yourself? • What is a Vanity Versus a Subsidy Publisher?

Practical Information …187

Recommended Books…209


back to:
So You Want To Write
PUB DATE: August, 2001
CATEGORY: Writing / Self Actualization & Self Help / Reference
PAGES: 224
TRIM: 6 x 9
ISBN: 0-9679520-2-6
PRICE: $14.95 / Paperback Original 

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