This is part of a series on how to study fiction, mainly directed at writers who have read all the beginning writing books and are like, “What now?!?”  The rest of the series is here.

UPDATE:  I’m rearranging some of the pieces in the list below, both to move things around and to add more things! Please excuse the contruction!

I’m going to assume that you’re an intermediate writer (as discussed in the first post of the series).  We’re going to start with…what to study.

In some cases, you may have no idea what I’m talking about.  In others, you may have heard completely contradictory advice to what I’m going to set out.  In still others, you may do things completely differently.

That’s all okay.  In the beginning levels of writing, writers tend to see the world in terms of rules that they follow–and assume that if they follow the rules, they should be able to sell their work.

But the idea that writing has rules or even guidelines that need to be followed is a false one.  Writing has readers who need to be entertained.

And that’s it.

But that’s kind of a master-level approach to writing, and the implications are too many and too varied and require too much experience to simplify the process down to that level for most writers.

So we slice up writing into pieces, quite artificially and randomly, in order to make it easier to talk about.

Here are my slices for the purpose of this series:

  1. Productivity and speed
  2. Reading
  3. Putting a character on the page
  4. Putting a setting on the page
  5. Conflict and beats
  6. Beginnings and endings
  7. Story structure
  8. Plot
  9. Pacing
  10. Depth
  11. Editing and feedback
  12. Ruts and comfort zones
  13. Identifying strengths and weaknesses
  14. What is story

In each of these slices, I’m going to try to break down:

  • What the issues are at the intermediate level.
  • Some techniques for studying those issues.
  • Other resources related to those issues.

If you have more techniques and resources you want added, contact me–I’ll add them to the posts if I think it’s appropriate.

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