A craft book is a non-fiction book about the process of writing. They come in many formats from how-to guide, memoir, complied advice, and more. Some are funny, some are quite serious, but sometimes craft books can feel like a barrier to new writers, or even patronizing. You might think “why do I need to read about story beats? I know how to write.” Or, you might feel like a craft book takes the fun out of writing. Worry not, today we’re dispelling the myth that you must read craft books to be a better writer by providing alternate avenues for growth. August’s theme for JUVEN Press is Transitions. Therefore, let us help you transition into a better writer.
Have you ever heard the advice: the beginning of your story should be an ending? Did you then think: what does that even mean? Despite the contradiction, this advice is helpful when thinking about the structure of a story. How is a beginning an ending? Read on to find out.
I can’t remember where I first heard this advice, but the example that went with it stuck in my mind. The beginning of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone has multiple endings. Harry’s parents die, 12 years pass, and at the “end” of the beginning, Harry leaves the Muggle world and goes to Hogwarts. Here’s another one: the transition in The Hunger Games is when Katniss ends her time as a citizen of District 12 and becomes a Tribute. Similar to Katniss’ transformation, Zetian in Iron Widow leaves her village to enlist in the army and avenge her sister’s death.
Transitioning in Writing - What to expect when you move from Poetry to Prose, or Short Stories to Novels
I’d say that most (or at least a good amount of) people aren’t very welcoming to change. Sure, it’s inevitable, but the general goal is to find a specific routine and stick with it (with few exceptions). This is also how it is for writers as well. You find a genre or two you're comfortable with, create a writing style that works for you and you’re pretty much set for life. The only change we have to expect in our writing is it slowly getting better more and more as the years go by. But what happens when your writing changes more than that? What happens when you’re looking to change the format you write in?
For those of us who choose to venture into other forms of writing, learning how to write again but in a different way can be challenging, especially for writers who make the conscious effort to try something new (such as a hardcore prose writer to poetry). So, as someone who writes in many different formats, here is my take on transitioning in writing, how to be successful at it, and what worked for me.
We’ve all heard of symbolism before. It’s the “why are the curtains blue” debate, the argument of whether or not to take the author’s word at face value or to probe deeper. This often falls in with “death of the author”, which means to divorce an author from their work completely, and draw your conclusions solely based on the text. While I don’t like to critique how people read on their own time, as it is ultimately a personal hobby that should bring you joy, I do think it is important to delve deeper into works and think critically about the author’s message.
Note: This is the second part of a series. If you have not read Worldbuilding Basics - Introduction and Resources yet, I recommend you do so before reading this post.
And so, you choose to write science fiction. Where technology thrives both as a threat and a tool. Science fiction, as a part of speculative fiction, has an infinite array of possibilities. As you make this decision, you enter a brightly lit room and let your eyes adjust for just a few seconds. You can probably see the color of the walls and the lighting of the place. It is mostly empty and ready for you to work with it.
Personally, this genre is my favorite to both write and read. However, when I started my first science fiction piece, I quickly noticed I had no idea how to transfer the world I had created on my head to the page. I had the Pinterest boards and the spreadsheets with my character’s needs and wants, but I realized there were so many things about my technology, and sci-fi in general, that I did not understand. During this post, I will start with the elements of the genre, and then explain a couple of the things I wish I had known when I started.
A “time skip” is any time in a story where a time is glossed over or summarized to move on to the next segment. This can be minutes, hours, days, months, or years. Time skips are an essential skill to learn to master pacing. Often time skips can be used to your advantage, as they keep the story interesting, but other times they can be used to pass over moments that may be incredibly important to the story that you are writing. It’s important to know when and how to use this device, so hopefully, this article should serve as a helpful introduction.