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Storytellers take pre-existing tales, memories the key moments, and then retell them with variations, almost like beautiful but innocuous lies. Few of their variations make a serious difference to the continuum of the original tale. Fiction writers are not really story tellers in method. They are storymakers and shapers, as poets are makers and shapers of poems. The final value of fiction rests in that making and rewriting. Made well and shaped well, fiction becomes believable - more like than lie - and far less innocuous. In order to show well, rather than tell, you need to be clear about issues of position.

Point of view and narrative voice

These are important choices; points of view are the visualizing verbs for making a believable continuum for fiction. They include first, second and third person, that is `I`, `you`. `he/she`. Second person is less common, although offers, the challenge of speaking with yourself, such as a schizophrenic other or a youthful or elderly of yourself. It also allows you to address the reader, although, it must be clear, always, who this you represents. `You` is more distant to the reader than `I`, yet `you` always feels like it could be conversation.

A frist-person narrative has a purpose-built narrator, `I`, and `I` can be the writer, a person spinning a story, the main character or another Character. The Trick is closeness; a reader will read the word `I` and come to the story through the eye of the character. They become the character, and die story may even begin to feel autobiographical, so wrapped up is the reader in the relationship. Thus, frist-person narrators offer the simulation of reality and utter subjectivity and are therefore able to telle somebody else`s story extremely authentically. They tell the story of the main character because they are observing the person. They are the witness of events or the reseller of them. How reliable they are is up to you.

The third-person of view can be as objective as a camera, recording only what is seen or heard and never engaging with the thoughts or feeling of characters; or it can be as engaged as if the characters were dear to you. Camera-like objectivity can be too characters as if you know them. The narrator is not usually a character, and what the narrator does not know about all the characters is not worth knowing. However, this godlike authorial viewpoint, or Thrid-Person Omniscient, popular among Victorian novelists, can seem strange to us now. The reader fined it hard to identify with a Creator loitering on the edges of the word of their book.

You may therefore opt to write from the point of view of the Thrid-Person Objektive, in which the narrator does not know everything, only what they have observed at first hand. If well written, the reader will pick up resonances an inferences from what the characters do and say, although their thoughts point of view, in which the narrator perceives the fictional word through only it can carry most stories and cope with almost any situation. Never switch a point of view without making some break in the action - say, a section a chapter.

Narrative voice has little to do with `finding your voice`, although you might choose your own natural voice for your first stories. It is the voice of the character, who tells the story, and that will include their dialect, idioms, manner of speaking, and their choice of language. Although neglected, tone is as important to capture correctly. Tone is the story`s attitude to the word of the story and its and characters - the attitude and style of the narrator, too. It will greatly affect the way a reader perceives the story. When, in a workshop, a fellow writer says that a story `does not quite work`, usually it is best to examine tone and narrative voice, before working on the more obvious fault lines within point of view.


To the question how do I begin? the answer is, What is the story and how do you want to tell it?` The story is not the plot but in the telling`- Ursula Le Guin. Readers choose to enter the alternative universe of a fictional narrative, and that choice is active; they can always say no. Your first page is a there hold you wish the reader to cross, and its mirroring of reality is one of the aspects that entices. How can we make a reader walk straight through that page`s mirror into our world? That page is also a door. When you begin writing, think about what you place behind it. Do not open the door with a flourish; such tricks distract and create distrust. Many editors talk of the need for a `hook`, some striking moment that drags the reader into the story. This is a trick, and it can seem amateurish. If you choose to use a `hook`, then make sure it is invisible, otherwise you appear insecure.

Confidence in whitely voice is the hookiest hook. Your story begins where reality`s drama ends. Create a scene or mood with economy and lucid concrete language - with narrative, an image or dialogue - just enough to show the life of your language and the presence of an alternative world. The novelist Philip Pullman always begins a work a powerful image or disconnected pictures or scenes that he develops further - `That means I don`t have a plan, because it world prevent more than it allows. There has be a lot of ignorance in me when I start a story`. That ignorance is a beguiling but intangible factor for the reader, for it affects them unknowingly, making them as curious as the writer. The choice of at beginning locks down everything else: the mood, subject matter, and even the ending. Pullman believes, `The opening governs the way you tell everything that flows, not only in terms of the telling; and not least, it en enlists the reader`s sympathy in this cause rather than that` (2005: 4), The entrance and exit of a story frames the journey of the entire drama.

What if?

You can provoke your story into creation by looking at everday circumstances and events and asking them this question. In creative nonfiction, writes often take two aspects of life lean them against each other so that they become more than the sum of their parts. Similarly, poets sometimes take two elements form life and resonance. Fiction writers ask `What if` of their story, of their subject and of their own everyday life. Anne Bernays and Pamela offer a whole book of writing exercise with this question as the title. They argue that this constant interrogation of the story lends it not only the beginning but also forward momentum and framing.

Conflict and crisis

When reading novels as a writer, you will immediately notice the importance of conflict as the engine of fiction. Fiction, especially novels, depends on situational conflict - a moment of chance or change - as a triggering event. Characters are thrown into this predicament as into a whirlpool or maze, and your job as a writer is to observe them work they free, and not to assist them. With your first story, select two types of they did not choose, and which requires their action, or they may find them during a crisis that we discover how little we know of ourselves, and of others, and basic qualtities of character are always the first to emerge. Your story reveals the flaws and revelations, and the rapidity with which characters react to unfolding events. Thus, danger and crisis allow you to get into notebook as a repository of crises and conflicts, in your personal life and in the wider world.

Setting and time

Although setting is a stage for character, it is four-dimensional and can be used as character - that is, it must convince; it can never be generic or a backdrop. Even if the setting is fantastical, Pullman argues, `It isn`t interesting to write about if it isn`t real, if there isn`t a dimension of reality there, particularly a psychological reality`. Place is more than location; it is mood, history, other people`s lives. A recognizable cityscape is something a reader understands; gaining their trust, they move towards your story. You may then choose to colour. A carefully and vivid natural landscape carries its own precise connotations, edges for wildness and the unpredictable. In some fiction, you might write the setting as an antagonist. Time and weather affect setting, and will affect character, but they are not the `machines of the gods`. Do not use them witlessly. Nevertheless, as the creator of the place`s weather and time, you will learn when best to use them to move your story forwards or to shade its atmosphere without playing God. Remember, the place, time and weather may be inessential to your story but you, as the writer, must know where your character are and what conditions they inhabit; what year it is and even what the time on the clock is. That information may never even enter the text, but it will implicitly affect the behavior and mood of your characters, just as it affects you.


With fiction, once again the best test is to read it aloud, and read it to somebody. This will reveal problems and longueurs, it will also text whether speech is alive on the ear, and if it animates your story. If you find that some of the writing seems flat, shift sentences and paragraphs around to see what sounds more true to character; what order of the piece, or the point of view. Ensure that the narrative moves forward, and that excise cliché words and cliché of feeling, or mutate their language into something fresher.

The end

Writing on why even great novels can have disappointing endings, the critic James Wood (2005) cites the Russian formalist critic Viktor Schlovsky`s praise for Chekhov`s negative endings`, which `frustrate our sense of tidy form by refusing to end: `And then it began to rain`. ` Wood states that the novel `is a from that doesn`t want to end and that generally contorts itself into unnatural mechanical and overwrought, that the rhythm of the book is speeding up as it reaches home … Perfect endings of the open Chekhovian kind, or of the positive and closed kind, are rare.` Some novels offer more than on ending. I suggest you keep your objective simpler.

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