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Writing Fiction BWR105

Comments from our Writing Fiction students:

I have thoroughly enjoyed this course. Thank you for making it available"

S. Cooke

"Having a (tutor available) who is able to critique my work was essential. I needed to know where my strengths and weaknesses lie. An informed and knowledgeable tutor helps a lot". Wendy

COURSE STRUCTURE

There are eight lessons in this module as follows:

1. Scope and Nature of Fiction
  • Elements
  • Types of Fiction (Category/genre and Mainstream)
  • Characteristics of Category Fiction (strong plot, hero/heroine, motivation. Action, background/setting)
  • Characteristics of Maintream Fiction (Strong plot, Action or intrigue, hero, heroine, romance, happy ending)
  • Book, play or short story
  • Categories (Fantasy, fairy tale, fable, myth, legend, science fiction, western, drama, romance, comedy, horror, crime, suspense, erotica)
  • Getting an Idea (using a fragment, philosophical approach, develop from a title or opening sentence)
  • Back story
  • Types of writing
  • Theme development
  • Write an Analogy
  • Writing a Balanced Theme
  • Are You Suited to Writing Fiction ; Imagination, Being Informed, Human Behaviour
  • Importance of Focus
2.  Components of a Story
  • Story Components
  • Story Structure
  • Theme
  • Plot
  • Characterisation
  • Settings
  • Developing your own Style
  • Aspects of Style.
  • Case Study
3. Technique
  • Conception (Characters, Settings, Events)
  • Write a Synopsis
  • Developing a Story
  • Examples of Plot Structure
  • Method Writing (Developing characters, changing characters, Appropriateness of characters, Revealing characters through crisis, names, stereotypes, creating dynamic characters)
  • Writing a Draft
  • Editing and Rewriting.
4. Conception and Research
  • Conceiving a Story
  • Parts of Conception
  • Making conception original
  • Types of research (Primary and secondary data)
  • Planning a formal survey
5. Drama
  • Writing a Dramatic Story
  • Common mistakes
  • Time Shifting
  • Transition between events
  • Dramatic conflict
  • Motivation
  • Dialogue
  • Point of View.
  • Representing Characters Speech
6. Fantasy
  • Science Fiction
  • Methods to develop Sci Fi
  • Fairy Tales.
7. The Short Story
  • Characteristics of Short Stories.
  • Length in terms of: the time frame; the number of characters; the number of events; the number of settings
  • Common Problems with Short story Writers
8. The Novel
  • Guidelines
  • Planning a Novel
  • Making a story Endure (Archetypes, etc)
  • Tips
  • Getting Started
  • Submitting a Manuscript.
  • Which Publisher
Duration: 100 hours

Aims

  • Describe the nature and scope of fiction writing.
  • Determine the components of a fiction story, as the first step in planning a story.
  • Determine a systematic approach to building a fiction story.
  • Develop your capacity to conceive fiction stories.
  • Develop your ability to write dramatic stories.
  • Develop your ability to write fantasy
  • Develop your ability to write short stories
  • Develop your ability to plan for success in the writing of a novel.

What is Fiction Writing?

Fiction is writing that includes imaginary characters, events and/or settings created by the writer. All of the components of a fictitious story do not necessarily need to be fictitious though:

  • Imaginary characters might be set in a real world setting such as a well known city or a particular country.
  • Characters might be fictitious, but set in a “real” event. For example, you might write about the experiences of a fictitious character during World War II.
  • Real characters may be used for a fictitious story that embraces an imaginary event or setting (eg. a story about William Shakespeare travelling through time; 00or something more realistic, like a summer’s holiday at a fictitious beach resort, taken by a famous historical figure such as Mozart).

Two Types of Fiction

There are traditionally two types of fiction:

a) CATEGORY
Also referred to as ‘genre’, these stories have a distinct theme and as such are easy to categorise. Examples of category or genre fiction are science fiction, westerns, adventure, historical, romance, erotica, mystery, suspense, fantasy and war stories.

b) MAINSTREAM
These stories are aimed at the widest possible audience. They typically deal with most aspects of modern life including relationships, careers, and the search for success and fulfilment. Popular mainstream writers include Jeffrey Archer, Jackie Collins, Colleen McCullough and James Michener.

Tips for Writing a Publishable Novel

Use details Allow the reader to form a mental picture, by reminding the character what they look like, give them a tag so they can be sorted out and remembered quickly.

Accept that the book may not work Sometimes writers may start writing but then realise that it is not the right story for them. If so, stop. Keep your ideas for future books, but start a new one.

Build the plot so that the action leads to a reaction A typical adult novel requires about twenty plot points that encourage an action, or discoveries for the characters to react to.

Make every word count Enliven what you are writing. If something interesting can happen, let it happen rather than talk about the mundane.

Conflict is the most important part of fiction Stories should contain conflict and suspense.

Writers must always revisit old information, but the key to success is about revisiting in new ways.

CONCEIVING A STORY

Fictional stories may be conceived in many different ways, for example:

*Based on observations of real life

Some writers use the setting of a real life event (such as a war, a major catastrophe, or a political situation) as a setting. Starting from this point, they conceive fictional characters appropriate to that setting. With the characters and setting in place, it becomes easier to conceive events to write about. If you can imagine a problem or crisis which might occur in the defined setting, involving the defined character(s), you have a starting point for building a story.

*Start with a fantasy setting

Imagine a world that is not real; perhaps in a different place, or a different time.
You are establishing a setting. This setting could be similar to, or very far away, from reality. Once the setting is established, you may choose to next establish the situation. It may be that this “world” is facing a crisis or problem.

The next stage would be to conceive a character who will become involved with the problem/crisis; and having conceived that character to define the character.

Other characters can then, in turn, be defined

*Retell old stories, such as fairy tales, in a modern setting.

*Imagine “out of the ordinary” situations; and the repercussions that might arise, eg. imagine that you inadvertently caught the wrong train, bus or plane; or imagine one of your possessions (a coat, bag, car etc) was confused with someone else’s, and they took yours, and you took theirs.

*Spontaneously write an opening sentence or paragraph to introduce a setting, a character or an event.

*Write down what you can remember of a dream you had, and build a story from there; describing the setting first, then the characters, then the events.

 

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