Just sent a short story to be read by my classmates and professor before we meet Tuesday. I’m having a mild panic attack but am otherwise alright. An hour before I was expected to send it, I was editing. I was changing it into a story that I thought my Professor would like and started to realize that it was morphing into a story I didn’t recognize. What did I do? I sent the original and now I’m getting hives (figurative hives but hives nonetheless). At the end of the day, I’ll be a story that wanted to write…
…they’ll eat me alive.
Enough of the doom and gloom. Let’s take about writing that doesn’t involve me…or more like writing that’ll benefit you. This past Tuesday (Creative Writing Seminar/Class!), we discussed the questions to ask of our fiction pieces and what creative non-fiction is. I’ll be writing about the fiction aspect tonight and the creative non-fiction either tomorrow or Sunday.
After you’re done writing your fiction piece, there are certain questions you need to ask. The following questions are questions taken from my professor with examples provided from me:
- Is this fiction vivid? Can readers see it? Readers see the scene through the characters so the Point of View you choose is important since readers rely on it. Vividness of a particular scene is very important because the reader is learning about the character indirectly (i.e. The character’s room is in disarray which shows the disorganization a the character without saying it directly).
- Are the characters distinct from one another? Are they true feeling? Hemingway said, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”
- Is the main character facing a dilemma? What’s at stake? Don’t emphasize tensions of plot (stuck in a room with limited oxygen); emphasize human concerns (locking yourself in a room to hide from one of your parents’ violent fights). Short stories aren’t plot driven. They’re character driven.
- Have emotion and drama been handled with restraint? Not over-dramatized.
- Does the fiction hold some essential mystery (again, not a plot mystery)?
- Is the writing tight, compressed?
- Are the metaphors tight and exact?
- Is anything over-described?
- Does the story keep moving forward?
- Have all cliches of expression, character and story been avoided?
As soon as you feel like you have a handle on your story, glance through these questions. They’ll offer up perspective you probably didn’t have before.
I’m off to breathe into a paper bag…
A. A. Omer