Archive for October, 2017

Mastering the Power of Literary Story Article About Writing Better

Monday, October 30th, 2017
William H. Coles

A writer’s imagination in fiction opens the gates to creating great literary stories. To shape great literary stories, authors master skillful characterization and apply centuries-proved story structure that has matured from creative writers of the past.

Most writers today dream of a writer’s life style and acclaim; they write for admiration, fame and fortune. Nothing wrong with that; it brings successful careers for many. But some writers want to create stories that last into future generations and will provide understanding of  the constantly-evolving meaning of being human. Literary fiction stories can uniquely portray thoughts and emotions, nature of love, core human desires, sense of morality, transmit the soul of their generations with lasting penetrating impact that visual storytelling modes (such as film, video) often lack.

How can a writer today achieve memorable meritorious stories about events and people as great literature? So many of the past great fiction writers–Tolstoy, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Bronte(s), Sophocles, Hemingway, Faulkner, Homer, Austen, Conrad, Melville, Forster, Woolf, and so many others–reveal how humans live and how life changes them. There are no secret formulas but there are commonalities that generate power to move readers and propel stories to evolve with mankind into future generations.


Elemental Truths For Learning to Create Great Fiction

1) WRITE WITH PURPOSE. Does the writer want fame and fortune, or engage, entertain, and enlighten readers in significant and individual ways by imaginative and skillful story presentation.
2) THEME AND MEANING. Theme is recurrent ideas; meaning is significant ideas. Lasting stories contain both.
3) CHANGE.  Characters change as stories progress and so do readers after reading a great story. Examples: enlightenment (discovery or experience a new way of thinking), a shift in morality, a reversal in thinking, a coming of age.
4) DRAMA. Drama is conflict, action, resolution and is useful in many levels of story writing, character development, plot, scene construction, and prose. Dramatization is the major skill for characterization, especially with skills in writing in-scene, dramatic conflict and action.
—a) Major characters’ CORE DESIRES, which they rarely know and keep secret.
—b) Logical and credible MOTIVATIONS.
—c) Sense of  MORALITY dramatized.
Almost all great stories are structured in the telling: beginning, middle, and end and paced story-related ideas and happenings only.  In literary stories consider:
—a) Carefully considered TIMELINE for credibility and comprehension.
—b) CHARACTER-BASED PLOTS. Character desires and motivations, strengths and weaknesses help drive story plot (with less reliance on fatalism or serendipity).
—c) Emotional ARCS (e.g. angry–>loving).
—d) Logical and credible ideas and happenings SEQUENCED with transitions.

Thanks for reading. For more on creating literary fiction stories, see, a resource for writers with more that 1.5 million views and/or look at Creating Literary Stories: A Guide for Fiction Writers.

The Surgeon’s Wife.
Award-winning novel set in New Orleans by William H. Coles.

Illustrations by Betty Harper

Achieve character-driven plots in literary fiction. Article About Writing Better

Monday, October 2nd, 2017
William H. Coles

To be admired and be successful, literary writers need the skill of developing character-driven plots, important because the purpose of literary fiction is to provide new awareness or reawakening in the reader about something significant–-i.e. meaning–usually what it means to be human. To nurture significance in a story that is character-driven, the character should be created through action and description so the literary-story plot makes its interesting turns from the character’s strengths and weaknesses, desires and motivations.

In the great literary story, the character always changes. Something happens that will never allow character to be as they were before (an enlightenment). This is not easy, and writers must be careful not to always depend on real, fatalistic happenings (autobiographical material which is often presented in narration as fiction). Writers must find what drives the character and then present the inspiration to the reader in action scenes and objective, active prose (Tears ran down her cheeks), rather than subjective abstract, often static, prose (She felt so sad! She cried.) Characters built with imagination-stimulating action scenes rich with conflict and resolution illuminate the character and engage the reader. And these characters integrate into the story so the plot results from their actions, rather than their acting as a ventriloquist’s dummy. In fiction prose, character-based plotting is a gift of storytelling for writers and readers. So, as writers learn to know their characters (and respect or even love them), they can restructure the story so the character-based plot results from character-action scenes.

Choice of point of view (POV) is important; the right choices contribute to story success. Single, multiple, 1st or 3rd, each has advantages and disadvantages. Using different POVs (and the voices that are associated with story information delivered through these POVs), can provide enhanced story-impact. In addition, narrator and character purpose (and function) in the story needs to be identified. Why this story? Why this character?

When recreating a story in revision in a series of action-conflict scenes and carefully constructed narrative transitions, a story with a vibrant character evolves that affects the plot action that is the skeleton for the story. Character-based. Note, this is not slotting the character into the plot maze, it’s allowing the character’s human strengths and weaknesses to move plot. The writer discovers how character desires and traits result in plot progression.

All this is not easy, but to achieve character-based story-plotting places a writer on the path of writing with significance . . . plus pleasing the writer’s targeted group of readers.

Thanks for reading.

EXAMPLES OF SHORT STORIES with character-driven plots (FREE online):
Facing Grace with Gloria
The Gift
The Activist
Inside the Matryoshka


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