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Craft Articles on Writing Commercial Fiction
Contributors: Michael Neff and Barbara Kyle.


NOTE: the following articles on commercial fiction craft were created by Michael Neff of Algonkian and author Barabara Kyle for AuthorSalon.Com, and thus the links below will forward you to that writer website. We strongly recommend reading and applying the content in the following articles before you begin your ms, or edit it further, and regardless of whether or not you ever attend an Algonkian event.




A STUDY IN THIRD PERSON POINT OF VIEW
      Lessons and Readings Necessary To The Creation of a Competitive Commercial Manuscript

   By Michael Neff

Let's get right to the point on this issue. Yes, we know that CATCHER IN THE RYE and HUCKLEBERRY FINN could never have been the famous novels they were without the engaging first person voice ... Read all




STORYBOARD CONSIDERATIONS FOR PRODUCING EFFECTIVE SCENES
    by Michael Neff

If you're working on a commercial fiction or narrative non-fiction manuscript, you will benefit if you view your project as possessing three layers of increasing complexity:

Layer I: Overall story premise and plot. These involve top level decisions regarding major characters ... Read all




Nabokov Defeats the Quiet, And Graves Conquers the Brits

Using Nabokov (Lolita) and Graves (Claudius The God) we examine a quiet setting and circumstance made lively, and a lively circumstance and setting made cinematic and engaging, respectively.

First, the quiet made lively. Nabokov's narrative pushes forward due to his gift for discerning meaning and detail in everyday ... Read all




Strong Narrative Through Synergy : Examples of Powerful Fiction Narrative

The art of great fiction writing (and why shouldn't we be great?) demands the writer must produce powerful, energetic narrative, and not just occasionally, but throughout the novel. Each narrative block is the result of a synergistic effect, i.e., multiple elements working together to create a totality of vivid ... Read all




Author Salon has developed the Six Act Two-Goal novel structure for writers of book-length fiction and nonfiction. We expect further refinements to the outline, but the point here is to understand and utilize a tightly plotted act structure, similar to that used by screenplay writers, to effectively brainstorm and outline a very competitive and suspenseful plot for the genre novel ... Read all




AUTHOR SALON REVIEWS CRAFT POINTS AND EPIPHANY
      Lessons and Readings Necessary To The Creation of a Competitive Commercial Manuscript
   By Michael Neff

As noted in our piece on scene storyboards, if you're working on a commercial fiction or narrative non-fiction manuscript, you will benefit if you view your project as possessing ... Read all




THE FORCES NECESSARY TO PRODUCE EFFECTIVE SCENES

by Barbara Kyle

Electricity. Magnetism. Every writer has a visceral understanding of those words applied to drama. We call a dynamic scene "electric"; a compelling character "magnetic." But that's the response of a consumer of art. As writers we need to be producers of artistic effects. We do it by bringing human relationships ... Read all




"Plot Briefs," Glossary and Chart For the Six Act Two-Goal

by Michael Neff

The Six Act Two-Goal Novel
http://www.authorsalon.com/page/general/sixact/

The Plot, Setting and Conflict Outline (PSCO):
http://authorconnect.authorsalon.com/uploads/PSCOguide.pdf

The Plot, Setting and Conflict Outline (PSCO) Chart:
by Kari Pilgrim with Assist by Joan Koster ... Read all




THE ROLE OF ENERGETIC AND UNIQUE SETTINGS IN THE STORY

by Michael Neff

When considering your novel, whether taking place in a contemporary urban world or on a distant magical planet in Andromeda, you must first sketch the best overall setting and sub-settings for your story. Consider: the more unique and intriguing (or quirky) your setting, the more easily you're able to create ... Read all




FOUR CATEGORIES THAT DEFINE "COVERAGE"
by Michael Neff

The below "coverage categories" are not always typical of what every agency uses, however, they are comprehensive and in use by several agencies. It provides a solid blueprint for dissection and discussion among professionals on staff.  Each category is rated from Excellent to Good to Needs Work to Poor.

Also, such ... Read all







 
 


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