Critique Partners

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For one reason or another, you may find that your critique group has become smaller and smaller.

That’s what happened to my group this past summer.

Left with just two of us (instead of our ideal number of 4) we had a decision to make.

We asked ourselves if we should we disband and each join another existing group, ask others to join us, or if we should simply hang together.

We talked about it. Tossed around the pros and cons.

Finally, we decided to stay together and see how it might work out.

Now, instead of a Critique Group, we have become Critique Partners.

And, so far it is working out very well.

We are able to devote more time to each other… critique to a greater depth. I feel more responsible for my comments and take the time to give more suggestions.

Also, one of the nicest benefits has been the opportunity to get to know each other better. I feel like we are growing our friendship—and that is always a very good thing.

Journey Ended

 

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Today is the Grand Finale of our Journey Through the Genres. The last five genres to peruse are:

Historical: This genre offers readers events and fictional characters that occur within a historical setting. Some authors even include real people that interact with the fictional characters.  

Humor: This genre’s goal is entertainment. However, it should also convey an underlying concept.

Realism: These stories are true to life or sometimes may simply be “inspired” by real events. (Example: The TV series Law and Order.)

Short Stories: This type of story may fit into any number of genres, but is so short that there is only one plot—no sub-plots. 

Westerns: These stories take place in the Old West, usually in the late 1800s or early 1900s. They may include the other genres of romance, suspense, and/or realism.

So, that’s it. We’ve covered quite a bit these past five or six weeks. It is always good to refresh our memories as to what genres are available to us. Why not try writing a scene in several different genres? It may not only be fun, but you may be inspired to see what writing a longer version might lead to…

Genre Journey Continues

 

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Fables: In many of these stories, animals speak certain truths to readers in more or less supernatural ways. (Aesops Fables are perhaps the most well known.)

Fairy Tales: Any story about a magical land or creatures. (Think Snow White, Cinderella…)

Folklore: Myths and/or legends passed down through the generations. Example: Johnny Appleseed.

Mythology: Narratives that have become part of our societies over time. These stories may be based on human events, natural phenomenon, or religion. (Well known myths are: Norse, Greek, Aztec, Inca, Maya.)

Tall Tales: Stories that exaggerate their characters’ abilities to perform impossible tasks. (Remember Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill?)

Nowadays, many of these genres are found in collections.

Next week, we will finish off our Genre Journey by taking a brief look at Westerns, Short Stories, Realism, Humor, and Historical.

 

Journey Thru the Genres

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This week, our focus is on four additional genres: Drama, Crime, Horror, and Science Fiction.

 

Drama:  Mostly written for the movies and theatre, this genre makes use of prose, verse, and/or scenes. (Think of Westside Story and Julius Caesar).

Crime: The focus is on how the criminal gets caught. Action and dialogue are used to express conflict and emotion. (Notably Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky).

Horror: the goal of this genre is to create feelings of fear and dread. Any technique that creates those feelings is fair game. (Fahrenheit 451 and Dracula).

Science Fiction: As a stand alone, or included to some degree in other genres, science fiction examines the past, current, and future impact of science on our culture and society. (Current: Black Autumn and Catalyst).

Next week, we will continue our Journey thru Genres.

Classic vs. Fan Fiction

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This week’s post seeks to explain the difference between classic fiction and fan fiction:

Classic fiction: a creative narrative worthy of academic discussion. These can be novels or short stories, but must have literary merit. Many of these were written in the 19th century. Most noteworthy are works by Charles Dickens and Jane Austen as well as epic poems such as The Divine Comedy and The Illiad.

Like myself, you are probably aware of classic fiction. But, fan fiction may not have been on your radar. Here is what I found:

Fan Fiction:  the author uses familiar characters and settings from novels, movies, and/or video games from the original creator as a basis for their own writing. TV shows and movies sometimes use fan fiction (Example: The Twilight Series).

Note: Fan fiction is rarely authorized by the original creator or publisher and rarely professionally published. Some people like reading about characters they know and love in new scenarios, but others may feel these are not creative and—even more so—are a form of plagiarism.

Did you know?  Many classic works of literature are actually classified as fan fiction. For example, Inferno by Dante and Paradise Lost by John Milton.

Writing Mysteries and Thrillers

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Mysteries and Thrillers are cousins to Suspense, but they differ in focus.

In a suspense, something is about to happen.

In a mystery, something has already happened.

In suspense, the protagonist strives to get out of a puzzle.

 

 

In a mystery, the protagonist often strives to get into a puzzle.

A mystery, focuses on the crime, which usually happens early in the book. The rest of the story centers around the hero’s pursuit of the villain.

Now, about thrillers: The are extremely fast-paced, whereas a suspense story can have just about any pace.

A thriller is large in scale, perhaps involving the fate of the world as we know it—and the hero often knows who the villain is.

The focus of a thriller? Stopping the villain.

And, it’s as simple as that.

“How-To” books you may be interested in:  Writing the Mystery by G. Miki Hayden; Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel by Hallie Ephron; How to Write a Damn Good Thriller by James N. Frey; and Writing a Killer Thriller by Jodie Renner.

Famous Mystery and Thriller writers: Lee Child, Stephen King, John Grisham,       James Patterson, Michael Connelly.

(Next week, we’ll talk about the difference between classic fiction and fan fiction).

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Writing Suspense

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Last week’s blog was about writing FANTASY. This week, we turn to Suspense

As the story unfolds, the main character attempts to evade potential harm.

Suspense is considered the king of genres. It gets the reader’s pulse going and takes  them on the ride of their life as the worry and angst deepen at every turn.

In suspense, the threat must be clear and present throughout the entire story. The villain pursues the hero (although it can be more than one person) and it is up to the hero(s) to figure out who is trying to get to them, why they are after them, and how they can be stopped.

Most suspense writers aim to include five key aspects:

  1.  Mysterious atmosphere with underlying tension
  2.  Varied pacing and numerous twists
  3.  Likable characters
  4.  Life or death situation
  5. Chapters end in cliffhangers to keep the reader turning the pages and moving       from one chapter to the next.

       TIP: Use time constraints. For example, Has four hours to…

Mary Higgins Clark, Brandilyn Collins, Joy Fielding , and Thomas Perry are just a few popular suspense authors.

These books may be helpful for novice writers:  Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot by Jane Cleland and Hallie Ephron; Suspense Thriller by Paul Tomlinson.

Mystery and thriller are genres that are often confused with suspense. (I will talk about them next week).