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  • Challenging Myself to Write Fiction

     PassionforWriting updated 3 months ago 10 Members · 25 Posts
  • PassionforWriting

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    Hi!

    I usually write poems or short articles. But, I have seen many fiction short stories here and am inspired to give it a try and create my own short story. However, I would like some advice/tips on how to write it. Meaning, I see a lot of imagery and vividness (if that’s a word) in stories, and being that that’s not my main talent, I’m kind of worried about my ability to write fiction.

    Anyone have any tips? I’m also trying to figure out what to write about. I have a passion for psychology, teaching and mental health and am a deep person.

    Looking forward to your ideas!

  • PassionforWriting

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 6:22 pm

    Hi Elisheva,

    Thank you so much for your tips! I like how you put it – to show instead of tell. 

    Any ideas of what kind of conflict I could write about? I’m thinking along the lines of co-dependency, but not such an intense case.

  • HappiWriter

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    I once heard a quote: “Write what you know.”

    Though the author probably intended to say something slightly different, I’ll say: Write about things close to your heart. Write the messages you’re interested in telling the world…

    You want your stories to be vivid — 😉 challenge yourself 😉

    That being said, Riva just posted her own guidelines for proper short story writing. You can see it here.

    Good luck!!

  • Fiction Fangirl

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 6:56 pm

    PassionforWriting, join the fiction club!  Understanding psychology and mental health and being a deep person with teaching experience are great components that help drive a story.

    I usually start my stories with an image and an emotion.  Can you visualize that?  I never start with conflict, happens to be.  But since you say you’re thinking along the lines of co-dependency, I think it’s a great start.  When you close your eyes and see codependency, what do you feel?  I see a need to be accepted and wanted.  I see a character feeling empty and wanting to fill that hole.  I see her being uncomfortable in her skin.

    Once these images flood my brain, I start asking questions.  Why is she uncomfortable in her skin?  What caused her to feel empty and want to fill that hole?  With what does she want to fill it with?

    What are the atmosphere and the setting like surrounding the image?  I see smoke.  Cigarette stubs littering the driveway.  It’s dark out and there’s a long, winding road ahead shimmering with black ice.  There is a sliver of a moon stabbing the tips of evergreen trees.  An owl hoots and flaps its wings on a nearby branch.  There’s a sigh of a woman.  The ping of a phone.  It’s chilly and I smell dark chocolate.

    Then the barrage of questions starts again.  Why do I see smoke?  Why are cigarette stubs littering the driveway?  Is it night out?  Is it winter?  Is the character alone or with others?  Why the scent of dark chocolate?

    That’s all I can say.  I don’t have a scientific way for crafting the perfect story but this always works for me.  It helps if I listen to music to match the mood of the story.  So in this case, I would listen to something somber or soulful or perhaps even dark.

    Hope this helps!  Go for it!  Hatzlacha 🙂

  • Anagrammer

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 7:02 pm

    Whoa, Fiction Fangirl, incredible! You really said it. I was thinking how to respond to PassionforWriting and couldn’t figure out how to formulate my thought process into words, but there you went and put it down. Yes, yes, yes. I’ve never tried the music before, interesting idea… Though music does sometimes inspire me to write, I’ve never used it as a proactive tool.

  • HappiWriter

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 8:26 pm

    Cool Fiction Fangirl!! Awesome imagery…It’s interesting, my thought process is just the opposite.
    I usually begin with a conflict or emotion. Then, I throw myself into the world of imagination. Like you, I wonder about character & setting then meander to brainstorming specific scenes.
    It’s not a linear process. More like a volleying of ideas and thoughts and emotions, jumping from character to setting to plot then back around. Usually I don’t sit down and brainstorm — especially not with the initial ideas. Things just wander around the back of my head gaining bulk and form.
    When an idea comes to your mind, don’t move on. Jot it down, whatever it is — backstory, bits of dialogue… That’ll clear your brainspace for new ideas.
    Music is an awesome idea, but it’s hard to find music that matches the scene perfectly.

  • Esther

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    I’d love for you to write something on codependency!  It’s a huge thing now, with CoDA meetings and all.  But for some reason it hasn’t shown much in our literature.  Why?

    • Esther Kurtz

      Member
      July 3, 2020 at 3:25 am

      Family First covered co-dependency extensively a few years ago .

  • PassionforWriting

    Member
    July 3, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    Wow, thank you all for explaining it so well!!!

    Fiction fangirl, your post really brought it out so clearly as well as everyone who has answered. I’m going to try and challenge myself 🙂

  • Fiction Fangirl

    Member
    July 3, 2020 at 2:18 pm

    PassionforWriting, I admire your courage to try something new, especially with a pressing deadline.  I’m lamenting inwardly about last year’s deadline compared to this year’s deadline.  That contest was announced in May.  I think we had three months to cook a story.  This year, it’s a mad scramble.  With no publishing experience, I feel my skin burn.  Gah.

  • PassionforWriting

    Member
    July 3, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    [quote quote=19832]PassionforWriting, I admire your courage to try something new, especially with a pressing deadline. I’m lamenting inwardly about last year’s deadline compared to this year’s deadline. That contest was announced in May. I think we had three months to cook a story. This year, it’s a mad scramble. With no publishing experience, I feel my skin burn. Gah.[/quote]

    Thank you!

    Yeah, I totally get you, I really do. I’m actually not writing with any deadline in mind. I’m writing just to write, hopefully to create  something decent! 😉

    Here’s a sample of what I just wrote. I’m not writing with any specific plot in mind, but I’m hoping something comes to mind as I write. (I have some experience with this, so it helps me write without first getting a plot)

    But I’m open to any ideas of relationship conflict between friends 🙂

    No! It can’t be. I just checked again and no response.

    Sigh!!

    What am I going to do now? Like why can’t she just answer me? Doesn’t she know how lonely and isolated i feel? Doesn’t she know that all it takes is 2 minutes – at most to respond??

    I hate it!! Just hate it.

    Why? Oh, just why?

    Tears are streaming down my face as this all-too familiar feeling of rejection washes over me.

    I remember how this exact thing happened with Malka, and she put up boundaries…. oh, that word makes me cringe!

    Boundaries. The famous buzz word that psychologists use when people are enmeshed with each other. Boundaries. Boundaries. Boundaries.

    Those words make me cringe and send my body into a boiling mode.

  • Esther

    Member
    July 3, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    Like.  Can’t wait to see where you go with it.

  • Fiction Fangirl

    Member
    July 3, 2020 at 4:03 pm

    Okay, it’s a good start.  We need background, though.  Who’s Malka?  Who is the protagonist waiting expecting a response from?  Why is she assuming her friend is ignoring her?  Why the sudden conclusion about boundaries?

    I get it that this is an angsty piece.  Let me feel the mood.  Maybe consider starting with a statement that would better portray the protagonist anxiously awaiting a response.  I couldn’t get the timeframe.  Has she been waiting for a week?  Three days?  Fifteen minutes?

    For example:

    Is it possible to curb a phone addiction in a week?  Chana hasn’t replied yet.  It’s been 168 hours.  Last year, the power was out during one of our sleepovers.  She buried herself under her pillow.  I had never seen her cry before.  At dawn, I could still hear her hiccuping.

    A week is a lifetime.  She must’ve replied by now.  I check my phone again.  My email.  I even stick my hand into the mailbox.  Maybe she sent a letter.  An apology.

    Nothing.

  • PassionforWriting

    Member
    July 3, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    Yeah, I think I’m going to consider the plot and conflict part of it now. I was just trying to set the mood and entice the reader into it. It was the easiest part before the hard work. Lol. Thank you!

  • Elisheva Halle

    Member
    July 5, 2020 at 3:07 am

    Hi Passion for writing! Codependancy sounds like a really interesting topic to write about. It looks like you’re writing about two friends who have a codependant relationship, and one of them is trying to nip it in the bud…that sounds like a very interesting story! Of course, you have conflict right there…they are codependant! Here are some questions to consider to move your story along:

    1- how did this codependancy start? In other words, what is it that the main character wants so badly that she has turned to this friend? Is she looking for security? popularity? What issues from her childhood brought her to that point? You don’t have to spell everything out, but you can allude to it in flashbacks or dialogue that hints at back story

    2-Now that you figured out what the character wants, what is it that she needs to learn? Example: security comes only from Hashem and you can’t be dependent on other people.

    It seems like you already have a catalyst: Her friend has dropped her! Oh no! Now what? What will she do?

    You mentioned that you like teaching. I also love teaching and therefore I understand why you want to provide the reader with information about codependancy and boundaries upfront. But avoid doing that (don’t worry, I have been guilty of that many times); but instead be comforted that if you tell a story of a character who is undergoing change (and it sounds like your character will have to change a lot if her friend she is dependent on stops responding to her) your reader will change also- they will have been taken for an emotional ride, and at the end, without you explaining a word, they will understand the message you are conveying.

    Hatzlacha!

  • PassionforWriting

    Member
    July 5, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    [quote quote=19852]Hi Passion for writing! Codependancy sounds like a really interesting topic to write about. It looks like you’re writing about two friends who have a codependant relationship, and one of them is trying to nip it in the bud…that sounds like a very interesting story! Of course, you have conflict right there…they are codependant! Here are some questions to consider to move your story along: 1- how did this codependancy start? In other words, what is it that the main character wants so badly that she has turned to this friend? Is she looking for security? popularity? What issues from her childhood brought her to that point? You don’t have to spell everything out, but you can allude to it in flashbacks or dialogue that hints at back story 2-Now that you figured out what the character wants, what is it that she needs to learn? Example: security comes only from Hashem and you can’t be dependent on other people. It seems like you already have a catalyst: Her friend has dropped her! Oh no! Now what? What will she do? You mentioned that you like teaching. I also love teaching and therefore I understand why you want to provide the reader with information about codependancy and boundaries upfront. But avoid doing that (don’t worry, I have been guilty of that many times); but instead be comforted that if you tell a story of a character who is undergoing change (and it sounds like your character will have to change a lot if her friend she is dependent on stops responding to her) your reader will change also- they will have been taken for an emotional ride, and at the end, without you explaining a word, they will understand the message you are conveying. Hatzlacha![/quote]

     

    Thank you Elisheva for your tips! So this character feels empty and very needy. Her friend didn’t drop her; she simply didn’t respond to her (needy) message yet and that send the main character into this whole dynamic and intensely emotional response. And, this didn’t just happen. It’s a pattern that keeps happening because she didn’t have a secure childhood and therefore is a very needy adult.

    So now, she’s basically in shock/anger/freeze mode. She really needs validation from her friend.

    So now, she’s basically met with very challenging feelings: emptiness, validation, anger and possible rejection, and she knows why this is happening – her past childhood. (Sorry for rambling. I’m just writing it out to see how I’m going to continue with the story).

  • PassionforWriting

    Member
    July 5, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    I’m actually not writing this with teaching in mind 😉

    I’ve actually experienced a lot of this stuff, so I’m writing it from that standpoint… Ouch, that was SO vulnerable of me to say. lol.

  • PassionforWriting

    Member
    July 5, 2020 at 4:24 pm

    I added to it, though I’m not so sure I know what I’m doing. I feel like i’m just rambling… lol.

    No! It can’t be. I just checked again and no response.

    Sigh!!

    What am I going to do now? Like why can’t she just answer me? Doesn’t she know how lonely and isolated i feel? Doesn’t she know that all it takes is 2 minutes – at most to respond??

    I hate it!! Just hate it.

    Why? Oh, just why?

    Tears are streaming down my face as this all-too familiar feeling of rejection washes over me.

    I remember how this exact thing happened with Malka, and she put up boundaries…. oh, that word makes me cringe!

    Boundaries. The famous buzz word that psychologists use when people are enmeshed with each other. Boundaries. Boundaries. Boundaries.

    Those words make me cringe and makes my blood boil.

    The truth is that this has been happening with many people. I remember when Shana just couldn’t take the amount of times, I would text her. I just couldn’t go on without her validation. And now, I can’t go on without Esther’s text….

    No!! Why does this happen each time? Why can’t I just have normal and healthy friendships without feeling like the other is my personal Mashiach.

    Oh my gosh!!!! She just responded and I can barely breathe! What did she say?

    “Leah, I understand that you would like me to answer your messages right away and that it helps you calm down, but I really can’t do that now. It’s too… it’s too much for me right now. But… we can gladly be friends and message each other within normal time spans.”

    NO! NO! This ISN’T happening. Another friendship about to go down the drain. Why do I feel so insecure and such an intense need for her validation? Why? Oh, just why? I want to be NORMAL!!!!

    “Leah, why is your face red and dripping with sweat?”

    Should I tell Mommy what’s been going on? Will she even listen or just tell me that I’d better be careful?

    “Oh, nothing. I’m just a little hot. Really, nothing.”

     

     

  • Esther

    Member
    July 5, 2020 at 4:38 pm

    Hey, PassionforWritin.  First, that is super brave of you.  And don’t worry, so many of us go through that stuff too…

    Second, I think that writing from a personal standpoint is one of the best ways to write!

  • PassionforWriting

    Member
    July 5, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    Thank you!! I really appreciate that 🙂

  • Mindy Friedman

    Member
    August 26, 2020 at 2:44 am

    Passionforwriting, I commend you for stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. I think you chose a great topic that can make a great story!

    Just some thoughts about short stories:

    We (the wonderful women on this forum) know that you’re writing a story about codependancy because you told us. However, the reader shouldn’t know that from the start. If the readers know the moral of the story from the start, they just have to wait around for the character to learn it. They can wonder why the character doesn’t get something so obvious.

    Right in the beginning, we see the entire message that the story wants to tell us. You immediately introduce the word “boundaries” which is ultimately the lesson your character needs to learn. You show a very intense reaction to a text that is super sensitive to the issue at hand (it seems from the text that the protagonist and the friend is perfectly self-aware of the problem within the friendship). The protagonist shows immediate self-awareness that she is doing something wrong in relationships. I think having all this at the start of the story makes the reader identify less with the character. It makes the reader impatient, “when will the protagonist understand how unhealthy she is behaving?” or “Why does the protagonist feel such intense anxiety more than other people would feel in this situation?” In a short story, you want the reader to understand your protagonist and identify with her point of view. You want the reader to learn the lesson along with the character. Think from your character’s brain – why is she so hurt so quickly? Once you can answer that, you can show those feelings to the reader.

    I hope I’m not confusing you more than helping. You can do this!

     

  • riva pomerantz

    Administrator
    August 26, 2020 at 5:03 pm

    Just have to chime in here to say that I am loving this thread. Such good, solid advice. Such a beautiful vibe of caring and sharing, which enables everyone to be vulnerable because they feel so safe. I’m totally kvelling! 🙂

    One other thing I want to point out is how wonderful it is to see Passion’s process. She steps forth into a story without even knowing her plot or her characters, but SHE IS WRITING! And that is a huge win! Never let anything stand in your way, ladies. Any writing is better than no writing!

  • PassionforWriting

    Member
    August 26, 2020 at 9:12 pm

    Oh my gosh! Riva, thank you so much! You’re kind words were so validating and literally made me feel like a million dollars!!

    And, welcome, Mindy! We’re so glad to have you on board with us! I definitely see what you mean, but I’m not sure how else I could or would start if not for that intense opening. I’m not even sure what my plot is… I’m kind of stuck. All I know is that I have a girl who is self-aware about her boundaries and unhealthy attachment with her friend, but I just can’t seem to “cook” up a plot for how that happened. I also used an intense intro because I’m basing the story on my experiences, but I don’t have an official way that I experienced this. In other words, nothing significant happened with my friend that caused this dynamic. I think it was my intense need for a secure person and my neediness that resulted in an unhealthy dynamic, and causing a severe attachment to her, hence our relationship ended…

  • Sherry

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 10:14 pm

    Absolutely agree, Elisheva. Let the reader experience the story as it unfolds. Don’t tell them about the ride, take them with.

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