Creating Short Fiction

Creating Short Fiction: The Classic Guide to Writing Short Fiction

By: Damon Knight

Where to begin?  Despite my obvious lack of posts on the subject, here, I do fancy myself somewhat of a writer.  And, I also fancy myself somewhat of a learner as well.  Learning, I think, plays a huge part in our lives, no matter what it is that we choose to do.  So, obviously, those two things being true, I try and read to learn about the craft of writing.

One of the things that I struggle with, in writing, is the short fiction.  While I usually have no shortage of ability to write, I have a problem with length.  Writing the short fiction is terribly hard for me.  I invariably end up with something that is the right length, but the story is so far from finished that it begs to be longer.  So, how, then, to create a short fiction that is complete in itself.  And, now, you know why I picked up this book to read.

The title of the book sells itself short.  In truth, it should have just been called “Creating Fiction”.  Many, if not all, of the things that Knight talks about in the book apply just as well to long-form fiction as they do to the short-form that it’s aimed at.  He begins by talking about the ways you can go about developing your talent as a writer, and then moves into the fiction itself.  Development of ideas, structure of a story, and then into the finishing, editing, and publishing of stories to round it all off.

For a book of only 200 pages, it’s surprising the amount of information that Knight managed to fit into it.  If you’re an aspiring writer, I’d suggest you pick this book up and give it a read.  Maybe a couple of reads.

Between the Lines: Mastering the Subtle Elements of Fiction Writing

Between the Lines: Mastering the Subtle Elements of Fiction Writing

By: Jessica Page Morrell

There is a line which prospective authors like to toe.  That line is the line between reading too much about writing and not doing any writing, and doing too much writing without truly knowing what it is that they are doing.  Everytime I read a book about writing, I feel as if I’ve fallen off of some cliff that is that line and have plunged into the land of the people who read about how to write but never do any actual writing.  (Unless, of course, you count a blog post.  I don’t.)

There are many who would not recommend reading any books on writing, but merely using what talent you have and practicing until you are good enough to be published.  I’m not one of those people.  I believe that if you can learn something about writing and hone your skill a little between practicing, you should.  After all, if a book like this one will save you several rewrites, that’s that much more time you’ll have to write the sequel to your novel.

On to the book itself.  I’ve read several books on writing.  I’ll save you the list, albeit a short one, and suffice to say that some are a complete waste of time.  This book, Between the Lines, is not one of those.  In fact, if I were asked which of the books on writing I’ve read is the best, this would be it.  Morrell doesn’t mince words and tell you about the process of writing.  If you’re looking for methods and places of writing, this isn’t your book.  What you do get with this book, however, is a very indepth look at the elements that make a regular old novel into a great novel.  Even a bestseller.

Throughout the book, Morrell breaks down those elements and pairs them with specific examples that illustrate why they work and where.  I found that she didn’t preach or lecture about the elements either.  Each of the chapters/elements is given in very plain and understandable language and the author doesn’t assume that the reader is a complete idiot.  With each of the elements, I found myself thinking to my current work in progress and, in nearly every case, finding something (or several somethings.) came to mind immediately that could benefit from that element.

Overall, this is a very powerful book for anyone who writes, whether it be fiction or not.  As I said, I would recommend this book over any of the other writing books that I have read so far.  If you’re a budding author, I suggest you find yourself a copy of this book and give it at least one read.  Pick it up at your local library, B&N, or Amazon.  I think you’ll thank yourself, and I guarantee that if you use the advice given, your future editor will likely thank you as well.