If you're a writer and no one reads your stuff, be sure to make your openings irresistible. Article About Writing Better

William H. Coles

Look. I can't help it. I feel bad and often dislike those who don't heed me. But over time, as a writer, when I fail to engage a reader, I've come to believe I'm to blame , not others, and here's the logic.

We benefit when we learn to attract and hold the attention of another human being(s); it allows us to transmit ideas and feelings. In every facet of our lives–one-on-one, audience performance, letter-writing–or a novel, a telephone call, an email or a tweet–we need to discover how to immediately tweak a brain cell, pluck a heart string, or corral curiosity with one essential element–a good start. Writers especially have to grab readers' attention in the first few sentences. For examples:

My one unbreakable rule was never pick up a hitchhiker.  And never at night.  But at the far edge of the headlights this girl showed up in the breakdown lane near mile marker 381, kind of humped over as if she didn’t even know I was bearing down on her … not like a hooker who’d be standing straight with her hand waving shoulder-high and her head tilted like a come-on … or some hidden robber’s decoy girl waving with both arms like the ship was sinking.  I slowed with no thought of stopping.   "Inside the Matryoshka" by William H. Coles

It was the last daylight hour of a December afternoon more than twenty years ago—I was twenty-three, writing and publishing my first short stories, and like many a Bildungsroman hero before me, already contemplating my own massive Bildungsroman—when I arrived at his hideaway to meet the great man.  "The Ghost Writer" by Philip Roth

–This opening from The New Yorker doesn't work for many: "The Dungeon Master has detention. We wait at his house by the county road. The Dungeon Master’s little brother Marco puts out corn chips and orange soda." It's unclear, and there is little promise of action, conflict, or engaging prose. "The Dungeon Master" by Sam Lypsite

Let's look at a few generally accepted GREAT FIRST LINES from literature:

"Call me Ishmael." —Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851) (I think the imperative has made this last.)

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins." —Vladimir Nabokov, "Lolita" (1955)

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth." —J. D. Salinger, "The Catcher in the Rye" (1951)

"It was the day my grandmother exploded." —Iain M. Banks, "The Crow Road" (1992)

"When Dick Gibson was a little boy he was not Dick Gibson. "—Stanley Elkin, "The Dick Gibson Show" (1971)

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." —Jane Austen, "Pride and Prejudice" (1813)

"He—for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it—was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters." —Virginia Woolf, "Orlando" (1928)


Here are guidelines for starters, but, in truth, great beginning lines come from the unique imagination and are not copied from others. (Although gleaned from prose fiction, most guidelines apply to any means of communication.)

1) Engagement. Intellectually others must become involved in what your saying.
2) Clarity. Openings must be understood.
3) Promise of enlightenment, or to agree or disagree, or to assist or resist. (e.g. We are three steps away from learning that life exists on Mars.)
4) Promise of learning something unique, new, and valuable, OR, something revealing, salacious, controversial, withheld, or buried.
5) Reversal of interest–surprise, incongruity, humor.

TAKE-HOME MESSAGE: Be prepared to use your imagination to create the great, engaging story-opening. Then make it sizzle.

"Inside the Matryoshka" by William H. Coles.  You can read (or listen to) this story free.
The Ghost Writer. Philip Roth  ISBN 0-679-74898-9
"The Dungeon Master" by Sam Lipsyte

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What do you do to make scenes come alive in literary fiction? Article About Writing Better

William H. Coles

Literary imagined scenes come alive with CONFLICT and ACTION in language, narration, story, and dialogue. It's not inherent for most writers striving to write literary fiction. To start, writers and storytellers are dependent on these basics:  1) literature is written works that have merit and lasting potential as an art form, and 2) fiction creates imagined events and characters. For success in inserting conflict and action, writers master vibrant in-scene writing–an important staple of effective story delivery–supporting concrete-imagery, credible dialogue, and action prose in narrative.

Here are examples of conflict and action in dialogue, narrative, and a descriptive scene using senses, thoughts and perceptions. These examples are not exclusive. With an active imagination, a myriad of ways can be created by an author to achieve action and conflict in creative fiction. The examples:

1) A family whose parents have just been buried are dividing the parents' possessions among them. Carrie, the youngest, is working in the tool shed. Martha, Henry, and Jessie argue over who gets items in the house–and no one wants the responsibility of bringing up Carrie.

Now, to make the scene alive, conflict is inserted, mainly in dialogue. Conflict results in action, the fuel for great fictional prose.

   “I am not taking on responsibility for a seventeen-year-old,” Henry said, pausing mid-brushstroke and turning from the window frame he was painting to make the house sellable.
       “Quiet, she’ll hear you,” Martha said from the kitchen, throwing a cracked and chipped casserole dish into a metal trash can with a crash of splintering glass. She turned back to scrub glassware in the sink.
       Jessie went to the front door to look for Carrie. “She’s carrying stuff out of the tool shed,” she said.
       “Don’t let her throw out any power tools,” Henry said.
       “She’s laying things out for us to see.”
       “She’ll take the best.”
       “She doesn’t want power tools!”
       “Anything of value.”
       “Stop it. She's your sister.”
       “You think so much of her, you take care of her.”
       “I’ve only got a one-bedroom apartment,” Jessie said, picking up a broom and sweeping with a flurry of useless strokes.

From the novella Sister Carrie http://shop.storyinliteraryfiction.com/product/sister-carrie/

2) For conflict in a narrative passage, here's an excerpt from Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

" . . . I was circumventing Kurtz as though it had been a boyish game. I came upon him, and, if he had not heard me coming, I would have fallen over him too, but he got up in time. He rose, unsteady, long, pale, indistinct, like a vapor exhaled by the earth, and swayed slightly, misty and silent before me; while at my back the fires loomed between the trees, and the murmur of many voices issued from the forest. I had cut him off cleverly; but when actually confronting him I seemed to come to my senses, I saw the danger in its right proportion. It was by no means over yet."

3) Here is a remarkable scene from Faulkner's "Barn Burning" where "alive" is achieved without describing action per se, but with use of accurate, imaginative language and sensual perceptions.

The store in which the justice of the Peace's court was sitting smelled of cheese. The boy, crouched on his nail keg at the back of the crowded room, knew he smelled cheese, and more: from where he sat he could see the ranked shelves close-packed with the solid, squat, dynamic shapes of tin cans whose labels his stomach read, not from the lettering which meant nothing to his mind but from the scarlet devils and the silver curve of fish – this, the cheese which he knew he smelled and the hermetic meat which his intestines believed he smelled coming in intermittent gusts momentary and brief between the other constant one, the smell and sense just a little of fear because mostly of despair and grief, the old fierce pull of blood. He could not see the table where the Justice sat and before which his father and his father's enemy (our enemy he thought in that despair; ourn! mine and hisn both! He's my father!) stood, but he could hear them, the two of them that is, because his father had said no word yet: . . .

It's a complicated subject to grasp, much less master and incorporate, but essential for literary fiction storytelling. Here are posts and essays for further study:

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What would you do if you had a chance to, right now, start your life again? Article About Writing Better

William H. Coles

What have you achieved? Is it what you wanted? Are you satisfied? Here's the idea. On occasion, life forces new directions that demand a new “you.” How would you make a better "you"?  Take this example of a doctor at the top of his profession who loses all and changes who he is to survive. Literary fiction can show significant change by creating dramatic stories with theme and meaning. Here's an example of how. (Excerpt from the award-winning novel "McDowell." mcdowellbycoles.com)

Hiram McDowell is an arrogant, proud doctor. He's ignored and stomped on a lot of innocent people, failed to value friendships, and failed in love and family, but he's listed in the top two hundred of America's most influential people. Then he's accused of a felonious death, goes to prison, escapes, and survives as a criminal fugitive. Here's a glimpse of his new life–a desolate wilderness country-scene in a Montana farm house where a family with a disabled child has taken him in. The experience changes who he will become.

On a summer evening after dinner, Selena came out from her bedroom in an ankle-length white nightgown, barefoot, carrying a hand-blown glass bowl partially filled with water. She sat on a three-legged stool. Maud closed her book and laid it on the floor by the chair. “Pops,” she called to the kitchen. Pops came out and sat in a chair at the table. Selena’s freshly washed and dried long hair glowed with a youthful golden radiance. With slow deliberation, she dipped the fingers of her right hand in the water inside the transparent glass vessel on her lap and she began slowly circling the rim until a sound emerged, course and variable at first but with a quick adjustment, even and constant with a strange ethereal quality. She sang with a single tone in perfect pitch with the sound from the vessel, her voice was pure and full without vibrato. Then she progressed to intervals–a minor third, a sixth, a major seventh. She continued for fifteen minutes then unassumingly stood and went back to her room. No one spoke, struck by the beauty of the presentation. Maud sat with her head back, eyes closed. Pops remained at the table, his head in his hands.
        The next morning Hiram saw Maud reading and drinking from her ever-present cup of coffee.
        “That was beautiful singing . . . what Selena did last night,” he said. “She’s unique. I’ve never heard a voice like that. Her presentation was beautiful.”
        Maud said nothing.
        “She should sing out in public. Make a recording to sell. It’s really cheap to do.”
        “You’d see her doing night clubs. A celebrity?”
        “No. But she could entertain a lot of people and make money doing it.”
        “She used to sing at the church before it closed.”
        “She has a spiritual quality that shouldn't be limited to a church.”
        “What do you think she wants?” Maud asked.
        “I don’t think she knows her potential,” he said.
        “To do what?”
        “Produce and enjoy a valuable profession entertaining.”
        “And why would she do that?”
“To be successful.”

        “But what is this success? What do you think that means to her?”
         Hiram tried to block his rising frustration at Maud’s persistence in questioning the obvious. “I don’t know. Admiration for her talent. Financial independence.”
         Maud got up bringing her coffee cup and sat down at the table where Hiram was working.
        “You were pleased with what she did for you. She made you feel good.”
        “I was awestruck.”
        “She did it for you, you know. She likes you. And she wanted to give you something of value. Something without strings attached. Uniquely hers, too. She doesn’t think in terms of success and money. Subtle meanings, competition, maneuvering mean nothing to her.”

So what's happened? He's beginning to evolve from selfish to selfless, from taking to giving, from indifference to caring. As he makes a difference in the lives of others, he's rewarded with new satisfaction never before experienced.

This story is literary fiction–imagination, drama, in-scene delivery with strong characterization, themes and meanings, and a purpose for telling a story. Literary fiction enlightens readers with discoveries that may awaken self-awareness and human understanding.

You can READ MORE of McDowell’s narrow escapes and growing satisfaction with a new life he never would have anticipated. Available in print, eBook, online, audio. mcdowellbycoles.com

LEARN MORE about writing literary fiction:
McDowell by William H. Coles

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Lasting literary-story characters mature and blossom like a sturdy oak. How do you do that?

William H. Coles

Here's a two-sentence story to make a point about building characters when creating literary fiction.

Harry flew a kite at the beach to entertain his invalid son. But the kite got away and Harry seethed with anger.

Didn't grab you, I would presume. Let me tell it again, this time with emphasis on characterization entwined in IN-SCENE action.

A wind gust elevated the dragon kite and the string ran through Harry’s hand fast enough to hurt.
        “Let me do it, Daddy,” his son Raymond said as he limped to Harry’s side. The boy held out his hand that trembled without stop from a congenital palsy. Could he hold the string? Fly the kite? He wanted to so badly.
        “Hold it tight,” Harry said placing the string in the boy’s hand. The kite dipped then suddenly soared, the string taught again.
        “I dropped it,” the boy said crying. Harry reached out but the kite had ascended too far to reach the string.
        Harry cursed as the kite disappeared untethered, driven out to the sea by the off-shore wind.
        “I didn’t mean to,” the boy said, “Don’t hit me.”

In literary fiction, effective character development is essential and compliments plot movement.

Here's a snippet from another STORY that emphasizes characterization, "The Perennial Student." In essence, the narrative is more SHOWING than telling.  If an assistant professor is to advance to full professor, he must successfully discipline a student who dominates his creative-writing class with crude offensive writing and comments. Here's an abridged excerpt that exemplifies techniques of in-scene "showing" and character-specific DIALOGUE revealed in a new essay–Creating Quality Characters in Literary Fiction. www.storyinliteraryfiction.com/essays-on-writing/creating-quality-characters/

Possum waited inside the entrance hall of the ivy-coated building that housed the Departments of English and Computer Science when Denise entered through the left side of the twelve-foot oak doors. How innocent she looked.
        “Denise,” he called, “over here.” She squinted toward the sound of his voice.
        “Will?” she said. All his other students respectfully called him Mr. Possum.
        “Yes. Over here. Behind the statue. I need to talk to you.”
        He had practiced. Now was the moment he’d been dreading. He guided her to the quietest corner of the foyer. The hot summer air seemed to press them together.
        “Look, Denise. You have really made a contribution to the class.”
        “Oh, thank you,” she interrupted. “That’s so cool.”
        “Writing is sensitive business,” he started again.
        “Only when you let it all hang out.”
        “It’s not particularly an issue of hanging out.”
        “You got to tell it like it is. Tell the truth.”
        He tasted the first sourness of defeat. How could this mundane woman with her formidable convictions force him to feel so hopeless?
        “I did not mean that we should not tell the truth. It is a question of adjusting to the sensitivity of the writer.”
        “I know sensitivity. You teach us real good.” She smiled. “It’s all about no pain, no gain.”
        Was she mocking him with her stare of excessive interest? He worried someone might overhear. My God, how she made him flounder. “Each creative composition is so personal it makes a writer vulnerable,” he said.
        She nodded in full agreement.
        He decided to be direct. “I must ask you to be considerate of other class members in your comments.”
        She recoiled slightly, frowning. “Shutting me down?”
        “No. Not ‘shutting you down.’ Just soften your comments.”
        “It’s the men, isn’t?” she asked.
        Possum swallowed. “No. It’s not just the men!” Discrimination? Was she thinking of filing a complaint? His tongue stuck to the dry roof of his mouth.

Of course great literary stories are created by mostly educated writers with talent and will to succeed, but even more important is applying learned techniques of story creation and imaginative telling that provide engagement, entertainment, and enlightenment for the reader.

You can READ "The Perennial Student" (3489 words) or LISTEN (24 minutes) FREE here: www.storyinliteraryfiction.com/original-stories-william-h-coles/the-perennial-student/

The Perennial Student

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How do unsuccessful novel writers build houses? Editorial Opinion

William H. Coles

You get a backhoe and dig a BIG hole. You back up a cement truck and pour three BIG mounds of cement. While cement hardens, you cut down two giant oaks, strip the leaves and throw the trunks with limbs in the big hole on top of the cement. You pour, 100 gallons of glue, a quarter ton of bolts and nails, five porcelain toilets, and three bathtubs. You add 800 light bulbs of various sizes throughout the growing muddle. You mix three hundred gallons of paint in different, preferable incompatible (noncliché) colors, and splash the paint at random over all you’ve assembled. Let the mess simmer for five months during a horribly hot summer, if possible. Add 3800 roof tiles–no need to remove from the packaging. Voila! A house.

Whats the point? Authors of literary stories need to be in control of their thinking and their imagination and then create story by mastering the elements of fiction prose and storytelling. Here are three of the important ideas to conquer:

*Structure–beginning, middle, and end.
Writers need structure, an overall outline that directs happenings, action, emotional arcs, and prioritizes ideas and timing of information transfer. Literary stories have images and movement that are delivered logically structured on a timeline. Author ideas and thoughts generated by chance and randomly applied to story, no matter the quality of idea or thought, are not as effective as imagined elements structured into coherent, logical web the supports story momentum.

Fiction writers need altruism and must: not write for fame and fortune, not write to be published to claim “author” at social gatherings, but write to engage, entertain, and enlighten readers by creating and telling a story well and building characters specific for story understanding and meaning.

*Creativity and imagination.
Writers need to imagine and create, not remember and describe. Imagination for fiction does not come from sitting alone in a dark, sound proof, unheated room until memories emerge from author life experiences like sea creatures from a peat bog. In fiction, scenes are imagined that move the plot, build characters consistent with the timeline, and relate to purpose and theme of the story. Authors who default to their own worldview and life experiences often fail to reach advantages of imagined fiction available to the world beyond self.

*”The Miracle of Madame Villard” is the story of a boy on a mission to find a cure for his dying mother. Set in the 18th century France, the story and all elements of story are imagined. You can read it online free.
The Miracle of Madame Villard

If you find these ideas ring true, WOULD YOU SHARE THIS POST? LITERARY (character-based dramatic plots, theme and meaning, unique characterization) FICTION (imagined) needs writers who train in traditional successful literary techniques. I’m trying to spread the word.

You could SHARE THIS LINK too for original story examples, essays, interviews, a workshop, and illustrations. storyiniteraryfiction.com. (free)
And thanks.

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Ferreting out MacGuffins in a literary-fiction story Article About Writing Better

William H. Coles

This down and out musician has broken up with his girl in New Orleans so he pockets his blues harmonica, drags his guitar behind him, and plods on the road to Yazoo City, Mississippi, to find a gig. He’s miles away on a back road in a poverty-infested rural countryside when a girl about seven appears and offers him a wad of chewing gum she takes from her mouth with thumb and forefinger. He politely declines but to respond to her generosity, he plays a tune, Empty Bed Blues, on his harmonica. She’s unimpressed. During a doze, the girl grabs his harmonica and runs off. He follows her into a ramshackle two-room paint-peeling-gray clapboard-house where her mother lies on her back on a bare mattress, both legs bent at the knees, her bloated abdomen contracting and showing a matted-hair football-shaped blob with each labor contraction. Damn, it’s about to arrive. Our hero has never seen a baby come out.

Wikipedia tells us: “In fiction a MACGUFFIN (sometimes McGuffin or maguffin) is a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation. The specific nature of a MacGuffin is typically unimportant to the overall plot. The most common type of MacGuffin is a person, place, or thing (such as money or an object of value). Other more abstract types include victory, glory, survival, power, love, or some unexplained driving force.”

“The MacGuffin technique is common in films, especially thrillers. Usually the MacGuffin is the central focus of the film in the first act, and thereafter declines in importance. It may reappear at the climax of the story but sometimes is actually forgotten . . .”

Okay. Thanks Wikipedia. In our story, the harmonica is a plot device, a MacGuffin. But fiction writers crave significance. So how does a plot device become a symbol? Let’s look to Wiki again; now things get a little wonky: “SYMBOLS are the basis of all human understanding and serve as vehicles of conception for all human knowledge. Symbols facilitate understanding of the world in which we live, thus serving as the grounds upon which we make judgments. In this way, people use symbols . . . to make sense of the world around them . . .” Okay Wiki. Symbols impart meaning about people and the world. Let’s explore more.

Two older couples are on tour in India, one married, the other in a relationship. The married woman wears an extravagant diamond necklace inappropriate on a tour through a poverty-stricken country, a symbol of an arrogant man’s wealth and status and his domination of a submissive woman who detests wearing the necklace in public. The necklace is stolen and the woman dies from an illness contracted from the thieves. For the rest of the trip, the in-a-relationship couple grieve for their friend and the woman works tirelessly to relieve the suffering of the destitute poor. The man admires the decent nobility and gracious compassion of his partner and near the end of the tour he buys an inexpensive jade necklace to commit to the marriage the woman desires as the ultimate expression of his love and esteem. Two necklaces acting as different symbols both driving plot.

MacGuffins and symbols are both useful in literary fiction storytelling but rarely are they the purpose for the story; instead, they are discovered, defined, and refined in late stages of revision.

You can READ both “ON THE ROAD TO YAZOO CITY” and “THE NECKLACE” online FREE or in print (also in audio free) with these links:
On The Road to City
The Necklace

Guy de Maupassant and Henry James are two (of many) who have used a necklace as symbol in fiction. Read an ANALYTIC COMPARISON of de Maupassant and Coles stories here: https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/compare-contrast-necklace-coles-maupassant-617243

The Necklace

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Finding theme in literary stories Article About Writing Better

William H. Coles

Big Gene

“Big Gene” is a story of an African American piano player who changes hatred and bigotry with friendship. How can a story convey impact of such action, action based on the teaching of Martin Luther King? Fiction, structure, drama, purpose, and meaning. Here are excerpts that demonstrate story progression in in-scene storytelling. You can READ FREE OR LISTEN FREE to the story HERE:


Big Gene had no love for country music. For him it was like chopping firewood. And he didn’t like playing for angry whites. He liked the white guys in the band who cared more about work and family than race, but they were different from the clientele at this all-white truck stop who seemed deprived of everything and angry at all they’d been denied.


“I mean it, boy. You great,” the man said with an edgy smile to Big Gene.

“You ought to learn ‘Great Balls of Fire.’ I was telling the man here. You flat ass sound like Jerry Lee Lewis.”

Big Gene waited; the leathery man stared. “Mr. Lewis learned from us coloreds,” Big Gene said.

“You’re kidding me.” The man looked genuinely surprised.

“Yes sir. Mr. Lewis learned from some of the greats, like we all do.”

“I’ll be damned.”

“Yes, sir. It’s the God’s truth,” Big Gene said smiling.

As Big Gene climbed back on stage. The band leader Sid whispered to him, “What was that all about?”

“That redneck thought I took my playing from Jerry Lee Lewis. I was correcting his misconceptions.”

“I’m surprised he didn’t shoot you.”

“I was a little shocked too,” Big Gene said, grinning.

OBSTRUCTION (one of many): failure to appreciate the value of nonviolence.

Two days later in the morning before Cloretta went to school, she held up the Sunday paper with picture of Big Gene shaking hands with the man in the blue suit. The caption read: "Klan Reaches Out."

“It’s not right,” Cloretta said.

“He doesn’t look dangerous,” Big Gene said, and smiled.

Cloretta frowned. You shouldn’t be shaking his hand. You shoulda whooped his butt. That was the man you used to be.”

If you have time, read the story and share your thoughts. How would you write this story? How would you handle this content?

Theme: nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice and chooses love instead of hate.

Meet the MAN WHO INSPIRED THE STORY “Big Gene.” DARYL DAVIS. Learn more here. http://www.daryldavis.com/

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Excessive Pride and Self-Confidence as Motive in Storytelling: Characterization and Plot Example Article About Writing Better

William H. Coles

An example of excessive pride and self-confidence in story excerpt from "Nemesis".
After he was fired from his job as audiovisual technician, Fred demanded early retirement, threatening to sue, and received forty-percent of his salary. A pittance of what I’m worth, he thought. Fred’s dismissal humiliated his wife Veronica. “Get a job,” she said, irritated to have him perpetually at home.

“I think I’ll start writing a syndicated column for the newspaper,” Fred said, emboldened by his recently acquired disgust–through his intent viewing of TV extremist news–of how seriously deficient America had become.

“You’re lazy,” Veronica said.

“Lazy people do not reach my levels of success,” he said.

Veronica was thin and had a nervous tick that shut her left eye making her right eye widen and exposing the white of the globe as if in unilateral fright. She would leave Fred after twelve loveless years. “You’re a jackass,” she said.

“Don’t be your unreasonable self, Veronica. It only demeans you.”

“A halfwit,” she said.

“Now it’s name calling, is it?” Fred said.

“It’s not a name. I’m not addressing you. I’m telling what everyone knows. You're an incompetent, unemployed, self-absorbed, idiot–the only human in existence who has pride in his failures. And I hate you.”

In an instant Fred assessed the entire scene as some hormonally induced, paper-lantern feminine crisis not worthy of his attention. She’d come around. She always did.
This excerpt is from the short story “Nemesis” about an arrogant man with excessive pride (hubris), failure to heed warnings, unshakeable belief in being right, inconsiderate of others’ views, and stubbornly ignorant of knowledge, who causes the death of the only love of his life. You can READ [5085 words] or LISTEN TO [34 minutes] the story here: http://www.storyinliteraryfiction.com/original-stories-william-h-coles/nemesis/

The Greeks knew excessive pride and self-confidence invited destruction (hubris–>nemesis). For the writer of stories, hubris is a human trait that can vitalize plot development and characterization. Look at these examples of hubris inviting destruction:

1. A famous athlete has extramarital affairs and said he thought that normal rules did not apply to him and that his excellence in his sport entitled him to whatever he wanted with no consequences. He lost respect of family, fans and sponsors and his career is ruined..

2. A president believes his status makes him invincible until his involvement in the illegal breaking and entering scandal forces his resignation.

And you might also enjoy these classical literature examples of pride and downfall: Oedipus Rex, All the King’s Men, Frankenstein.

The award winning novel McDowell incorporates full use of hubris that results in destruction of a famous doctor's career and freedom. He becomes a hunted convict that ironically allows new opportunity to regain some value to his life with unselfish caring for others. It’s a prime example of hubris and nemesis followed by a rebirth. It’s a good read. Available in all formats including audio.

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Seven elements for writing fiction stories Article About Writing Better

William H. Coles

For writers striving to improve the creation of fictional stories in prose, here are seven essential elements in creating stories.

The elements: Prose, Characterization, Plot, Narration, Setting, Imagery, Meaning/purpose.

Prose relates to diction, syntax, and voice. The intense poetic elements of lyric prose can be used to pleasing effects for a reader both as a secondary and prime element. For memorable stories, most readers prefer a distinct, often authoritative voice, for narrator and characters.

Characterization (creation of a fictional character) is most effective when developed by in scene action predominating over discursive narrative telling and when excellence of other elements is achieved: dialogue, narration, internalization, and voice.

Plot is all that happens in a story and is almost always dependent on a beginning, middle, and end and thrives of tried and true characteristics: character-based; momentum on reversals and recognition, mystery and suspense; and often linear, interwoven with emotional, character, and story arcs. Great plots provide conflicts early, both in story and among characters.

Narration is storytelling. Characters act out in fiction stories, narrators tell story, and authors create story with imagination and uniqueness. Point of view choice is tailored to the needs of story. Each point of view has advantages and disadvantages and must conform to reasonable story-related credibility and reliability, and adjust to requirements of suspension of disbelief. Authorial control of the narration through the narrator must be consistent in style, transparent (almost always no authorial intrusion), carefully chosen for story understanding and purpose, and meticulously crafted.

Setting orients the reader to time, place, and physical and psychic distance from story action, environment, and obstacles to plot progression. Most stories provide settings through subtle integration in other elements avoiding extensive description. Other stories rely on the poetry of beautiful settings for maximum reader pleasure.

Imagery relies on imaginative prose with innovative yet absolutely accurate word choice within the boundaries set up by story development. Momentum in the writing with image-inducing prose should be pervasive to prevent reader disinterest.

Theme/purpose. Every story should engage a reader, entertain the reader, please the reader, and provide recognition or enlightenment (theme/meaning) so the reader will never see the world again exactly the way they did before the story was read. Fiction stories are not character sketches, memoir, biography, or journalism with untruths. And every story has to have more than an authorial catharsis describing authorial lives and events. Fiction is art that emerges from imagination and is created with skill and structure.


Preparing to Write the Great Literary Story

Literary Fictional Story

Character in Literary Fictional Story

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The Seven Fundamentals for Writing Fiction Stories Article About Writing Better

William H. Coles

There are many ways to think about the great writing of great fictional stories. Both readers and writers can benefit by learning seven elements and appreciating the interaction of these elements in an individual story. For the reader, appreciation of authorial skills can be more easily enjoyed and admired, and for writers, learning to determine their strengths and weakness in the creation of the different elements can be valuable to balance story for an effective presentation.

Narration (POV)

Prose relates to diction, syntax, and voice. Lyric prose with intense poetic elements can be used to pleasing effects for a reader both as a secondary and prime element. Most readers prefer a distinct, often authoritative voice for narrator and characters.

Characterization is a key element for a literary story and is often most effective by in scene action predominating over discursive narrative telling. It’s importance in story development in the great stories is unique and individual and requires talent and practice. Dialogue, narrative, internalization, flashback, diction, memory, voice are opportunities for character development in effective ways different, and at times superior, to characterization in film or in drama. Almost without exception, great stories

Plot is all that happens in a story. For great stories plot is almost always structured with a beginning, middle, and end; frequently is character-based; depends for momentum on reversals and recognition, mystery and suspense; is primarily linear, and is interwoven with emotional, character, and story arcs. Great plots provide conflicts early, both in story and among characters.

Narration is storytelling. Characters act out in fiction stories, narrators tell story, and authors create story with imagination and uniqueness. Point-of-view choice is tailored to the needs of story. Each point of view has advantages and disadvantages and must conform to reasonable story-related credibility and reliability reliability, and adjust to requirements of suspension of disbelief. Authorial control of the narration through the narrator must be consistent in style, transparent (no authorial intrusion), carefully chosen for story understanding and purpose,, and meticulously crafted.

Setting orients the reader to time, place, and physical and psychic distance from story action, environment, and obstacles to plot progression. Most stories provide settings through subtle integration in other elements avoiding extensive description. Yet, some stories rely on the poetry of beautiful settings.

Imagery relies on imaginative prose with innovative yet absolutely accurate word choice within the boundaries set up by story development. Momentum in the writing with image-inducing prose should be pervasive to avoid loss of engagement of the reader.

Every story should engage a reader, entertain the reader, please the reader, and provide recognition or enlightenment (theme/meaning) so the readers will never see the world again exactly the way they did before the story was read. Fiction stories are not character sketches, memoir, biography, or journalism with untruths. And every story has to have more than an authorial catharsis describing authorial lives and events with description without imagination and discursive rumination of authorial thoughts and opinions. Fiction is art that emerges from imagination and is created with skill,  structure, and revision.

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