A Bringer of New Things

Musings on personal growth, books, motherhood, writing, and more.

Practicing the Craft of Fiction

Reading fiction is one thing, but writing it is quite another. Before I started trying, I felt sure that writing fiction would come easily and naturally to me. I was wrong. But I wasn’t defeated: I would just have to practice and learn the craft of fiction.

So that’s what I’ve been doing (gradually, as time allows). I’m finding it really helpful to do the exercises at the back of John Gardener’s book The Art of Fiction (and the book itself was incredibly helpful for my thinking about writing fiction, too, by the way).

Just for fun, I’d like to share my attempt at one of the exercises with you.

First, the assignment:

“4d. Describe a building as seen by a man whose son has just been killed in a war. Do not mention the son, war, death, or the old man doing the seeing; then describe the same building, in the same weather and at the same time of day, as seen by a happy lover. Do not mention love or the loved one.”
(p. 203)

I did both parts of the exercise in one sitting, and I simply chose the building across the street (that I can see from my window) to describe.

Part 1:

The building loomed dark and austere over the street, its windows like black holes, empty of life. In one window the vertical blinds had been gathered from both ends and tied together, so they formed an image similar to Jesus on the cross. Another window needed cleaning; it was streaked with vertical smudges as if they were big tear stains.

Part 2:

The building, sturdy and symmetrical, gave you a feeling of welcome and safety. The two contrasting brick colors of chocolate and sand coordinated nicely, though perhaps a flower pot or two by the door would have perked it up a bit more. The windows, all perfectly even, were extra-large—a person standing at one of them could get a full-body drink of the light.


5 comments on “Practicing the Craft of Fiction

  1. MeredithMorckel
    August 18, 2014

    I swear by Gardner, too. Very insightful.

    Love this line – “full-body drink of the light.”


  2. emilievardaman
    August 18, 2014

    Good exercise – great results! I, too, like the “full-body drink of the light.”


  3. kennedylejeune
    August 18, 2014

    I struggle also with fiction writing. This helped!


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This entry was posted on August 18, 2014 by in Discoveries from Writing and tagged , , , , .
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