Writing short fiction starts with imagination and energy, but it can sometimes end with an unexpected dullness. In the writing process we are influenced by new ideas and new responsibilities, making our themes and characters less clear. Writing is messy. There are few people who can sit down for 40 minutes a day for a week and end up with a prolific story, so that’s why we engage in a process of revisit and revise.
This week we will identify and address the five most common errors that fiction writers make, we will share a portion of our story out loud with our peers to get feedback, and we will author a letter in response to a reading of one of our peer’s stories.
COMMON FICTION ERRORS
1) Verb Tense Consistency: All verbs should be in the same time, whether past or present.
-Past tense verbs typically end in –ed, as in walked, talked, danced, and painted.
-Present tense verbs typically end in –s, as in walks, talks, dances, and paints.
EX: Raising her hand, Emma waited to be called on. The lights suddenly go out.
(“Waited” is in the past tense, but “go” is in the present tense.)
Raising her hand, Emma waited to be called on. The lights suddenly went out.
To effectively fix inconsistencies in verb tense, a writer must first determine the time that the events are taking place, past or present, and then fix the verbs.
2) Random Character Appearance: Introduce new characters with direct and indirect characterization. Give each one a personality. Most importantly, use character’s names. If the word “he” could refer to multiple people in a scene, use a name instead.
EX: He waited for his mother to call while his friends started packing for the trip. Without permission, he wouldn’t be able to go. “When are we leaving?” he said and then he looked over at his friend waiting by the phone.
2) Lack of Figurative Language: When we read fiction and observe the choices that authors make, figurative language is something we spend a lot of time working to understand. It is important for writers to help readers visualize, which is something that figurative language can help with, but it is also important to present information in a way that engages readers’ other faculties too.
Incorporate at least one of each of the following:
-Symbol (Hint: This could be something from your character’s treasure chest…remember that original characterization?)
*When you do create or identify an example of figurative language in your story, please highlight or comment on it.