|Science-Fiction Writer's Workshop-I
An Introduction To Fiction Mechanics
"Write the book you
were looking for when you first started writing."
I used to look over my collection of how-to-write books: endless tomes on symbolism, artful punctuation, social change through fiction, and "Is it art?" Much of it was entertaining, but of little use in getting words down on that first page.
The book I had been looking for would have contained some pretty basic information: What are the parts of a story? What does a pile of words have to be or do to become a story? How do I get to page one? How do I get out of my own way? What should a story's purpose be? Who am I? What am I doing here?
When I finally managed to cobble together my own answers to the above questions, and after much practice, my stories began being published. About a year after that, magazine editor George Scithers, suggested to me that since I was so new at being published, I must be very close to what I had to learn to move from fooling around with writing to actually producing professional stories. There are a lot of aspiring writers out there who would like to know just that, he opined. "Write that book," he said.
I wrote it, and there are numbers of pro writers today who got their start with SCIENCE FICTION WRITER'S WORKSHOP-I.
Table of Contents
Conflicts, Problems & Plots
Making The Story Science Fiction
Making Yourself Scarce
"The Second Law"
"The Magician's Apprentice"
Dream Sequence / Flashback
Ignorant Devices &
Parallel Running Scenes
FOUR: OTHER PARTS
Bright & Dark Moments
FIVE: POINT OF VIEW
First Person Narrative
Second Person Narrative
Third Person Omniscient Narrative
Show & Tell
Limited Third Person Narrative (Single Point of View)
Limited Third Person Narrative (Single POV Per Scene)
Limited Third Person Narrative (Camera Eye)
Some Thoughts On Approaches
Sources of Characterization
Sympathetic Characters & Identification
Characterization Through Action & Dialog
Speech Tags: Who Is Speaking?
Sentence Structure: How Is It Being Spoken?
Language, Dialect, Profanity & The Alien
SEVEN: FATAL FLAWS
"Requiem For Spacemaster Jones
"Then Darkness Again
"What Would Harry Do?"
EIGHT: WHERE TO START: A METHOD
Starting Points & Initial Development
The Stewing of "Enemy Mine
The Writing of "Enemy Mine
The Rewriting of "Enemy Mine" #1
The Rewriting of "Enemy Mine" #2
The Method Adapted
NINE: GETTING IT TO THE EDITOR
Where And When To Write
Manuscript Formats & Preparation
Copyreading & Revision Formats
On Picking Nits
From Science Fiction Writer's Workshop-I
Ever since our fur-clad ancestors gathered around a campfire or huddled in a cave to listen to a story, a "good" story had to contain certain things. What is it that can take a practical, no nonsense, day-to-day type of person (such as our ancestral hunters and farmers were) and have him sitting on the edge of his stump listening to tales of ghosts, impossible heroics, and outrageous superstitions? It is a mystery, except to the storyteller. The storyteller knows that the audience has pains, frustrations, disappointments, crushing doubts, and fears. And the teller of tales knows that the audience is more than willing to trade their lives of mundane, petty evasions for dream worlds of challenge, mystery, and adventure as seen through the mind's eye of the storyteller.
Stories are lies; and the storyteller is a liar. But few think in such terms. Honest, hardworking people sit enraptured, willingly absorbing the lies, finding within them reflections of themselves and their views of the world; right defeating evil, the worth of an individual will, the triumph of justice, the spirits of both man and woman raised above the mean existence of everyday survival. In the storyteller's lies, they find a kind of truth. Perhaps not the kind of truth that is; but the kind that should be. During the story, the truths are lived; afterwards feelings of those truths remain, to be remembered and touched during reality's unceasing efforts to drive men and women into the futile mire of sameness.
There is more that the storyteller knows to make the use of his skill profitable. There must be in the story a being of some sort that the listener can see, can understand, can become. And this being must be tested. Many spend their lives fearing and avoiding tests, confrontations, demands. This is why the creation of the storyteller must be tested, and must rise to meet that test. The courage, the loyalty, the love, the vengeance, and the pain we possess but pale images of, we see resplendent through the special truths of the storyteller. We feel that in some universe-the storyteller's universe-we could be not what we are, but what we should be. The storyteller's universe reflects our pain and tells us that we are not alone; it grapples with our doubts and questions and tells us who we are, or who we might become. And this is why, when the storyteller talks, everyone else stops their chatter and listens.
A basic, elementary story follows:
substitution, thousands of different stories can be told by using the
structure above. "A Story" is not the formula for all stories; there
are many other story structures. However, the tale above does contain
all of the parts of a story....
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