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Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and…

Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques

by James Hynes

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Learning how to write isn't something you can do by reading books about writing or listening to lectures on the subject unless you are, at the same time, actually writing and doing it seriously. Why? Because theory is all well and good, but until you can actually see how these things operate in your own work, it's really difficult to assimilate those lessons.

I'm glad I came to this course after having begun to ghost write. The lessons I've learned by actually creating someone else's vision of a story mesh beautifully with what Professor Hynes is telling us in his lectures. He talks about structure and technique, of course, but he also covers topics like research, and the why of writing. I often found myself nodding vigorously as he discussed things like revising as you go vs. having to do it all once you've created a draft. (I've done it both ways, and I'll revise as I write, thanks very much, because by the time I hit the end of the story, I'm so sick of it that I never want to look at it again. For at least six months anyway.) His lecture on the balance between research and imagination struck familiar chords with me since it's often a difficult balance to maintain. Now, when I'm doing fiction research, I want to put a sticky note on my computer screen that says, "Don't' be a show-off!"

This is a course where the companion PDF is hugely useful because you will probably want to follow along and annotate, add bookmarks, and use the (substantial) bibliography to follow up on ideas in the lectures. But it isn't just for writers, or at least I don't think it ought to be, necessarily. Readers could benefit from listening, and learning what it is they're seeing on the page, learning what kind of planning goes into the books they enjoy, or perhaps why they didn't enjoy a particular book as much as they thought they would. Yeah, I know that's a lot of work, and no, it doesn't have a plot or a romance, or even a happy ending where the antagonist is foiled and the protagonist lives happily ever after, but if you love fiction, why not learn more about it? Writing has made me a better reader.

Possibly a weirder one, it's hard to say.

So for working writers, this course is valuable. For aspiring ones, it may be a little scary. For readers, it might be eye-opening. Something for everyone here, at least in my opinion. And how can that be bad? ( )
  Tracy_Rowan | Nov 2, 2017 |
Not until I read this did I understand what it meant for fiction to be evocative, and how to make it so. That's what two listen-throughs got me. ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
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