Aaron D. Gansky

Momentum Part 2

In the same way that you as a writer must practice momentum to remain in the story, so your story must have momentum to propel the reader onward. Fiction, more than anything else, is a balancing act. Some time ago, I wrote about Charles Baxter’s idea of stillness, of slowing…

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Momentum Part 1

Momentum, in context of writing, really covers two different ideas, one pertaining to the discipline of the craft, and the other to the craft itself. Next week, I’ll look at the role that momentum should play in fiction. This week, however, I wanted to look at how momentum affects the…

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Importance of Language

My last post was about the first of two constants in fiction—tension. This post will focus on the second: Language. By that, I don’t simply mean English or Spanish or whatever language you choose to write in. Language is more a term that encompasses vocabulary, imagery, and figurative language. Though…

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Carver’s Menace

My Creative Writing students like to tease me. Every time we begin a new section, some new feature of writing we’ve not yet discussed, I begin by saying something like, “This is one of the most important aspects of fiction.” And while I maintain that setting, character, plot, etc. are…

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Stillness

Charles Baxter, in Burning Down the House, Essays on Fiction, devotes an entire chapter to a principle he calls “Stillness.” To paraphrase a rather lengthy and well documented argument, he proposes that stillness, a moment in fiction where action subsides and characters/narrators focus on the minutiae of their surroundings, “is…

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My, like, well, uhm, title.

Remember in high school, when your teacher made you give a speech, and made you sit through the speeches of everyone else in your class? How much did you hate that? What do you remember most about those assignments? I’m guessing it’s how many times your peers used the words…

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The World Within the Object

“The longer you look at one object, the more of the world you see in it; and it’s well to remember that the serious fiction writer always writes about the whole world, no matter how limited his particular scene.” –Flannery O’Connor I’ve often said that, as fiction writers, our goal…

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Mixed Messages

I teach both American Literature and Creative Fiction Writing, and often feel like I’m sending mixed messages to my kids. Imagine my feeling of hypocrisy when, in my American Literature class, I implore my students to “find the theme” in whatever novel or story we’re reading, and, in the following…

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The Power of Nouns and Verbs

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you’ve heard me talk about the evils of adjectives and adverbs. Without rehashing previous posts, I’ll simply remind you that adjectives and adverbs usually indicate weak nouns and verbs. And while several writing instructors (myself included) will tell you to…

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