FIVE FICTION FACTS
by MaryAnn Diorio, Ph.D.
Writing fiction is an art based on important principles. Here are five of them:
Character comes before plot
Just as people still argue over the proverbial question, Which comes first? The chicken or the egg?, writers of fiction argue over what comes first, character or plot?
We Christians know that the chicken came first since God directly created the chicken. The egg, then, comes out of the chicken. The same is true in the best fiction--the kind of fiction that most impacts lives. The author creates the character, and the plot then comes out of the character.
Think about the best stories you've read. What comes to mind first--a character or the plot? Most often, it is a character who remains branded in your memory, long after the plot is forgotten.
Plot evolves out of character
What your characters do is your story. Therefore, before you even
begin to write, you must know your characters--what motivates or drives them. It is out of this knowing that your story (or plot) will emerge and develop.
Start your story in the middle of the conflict
Think about screenplays or television dramas. The story always opens in the middle of a conflict or problem. It is the same in fiction. Start your story at a point of conflict. This immediately captures your reader's interest and draws him into the story.
When writing, think of yourself as a camera
Stories are not written in words; they are written in pictures. The mind operates in images, not words. For example, when I say "house", do you see the letters h-o-u-s-e, or do you see an image of a house, most likely your own? The answer is obvious.
Remember that people read fiction for entertainment
Don't preach or moralize. Your message must be intrinsic to the story, not tacked on.
Copyright 2004 by MaryAnn Diorio, Ph.D. MaryAnn’s short stories have appeared in Show and Tell, Today’s Christian Teen, the Young Generation Book of Short Stories, Junior Trails, and Romancing the Christian Heart. She is currently working on her first novel. MaryAnn hosts a popular writers’ blog called Musings That Matter at www.maryanndiorio.com/blog.
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