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Occasional thoughts about writing

Endings

Someone recently asked me what made a good ending. I told her that a good ending leaves the reader wanting more but not needing more. At least this is the type of ending that satisfies me as a reader.
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Getting the story on paper

It's really tempting when a story isn't going well, or if you've hit a roadblock, to start playing with time. Sometimes this can be a mistake. Generally, I try to get the story down chronologically first, limiting big flashback scenes and framing devices (at least early on). It forces me to deal with the here and now of the characters. Changes in chronology are useful and have their role in fiction. I just make sure that when you do start playing with time, it's because it's essential to the storytelling. And as a rule, I try to decide this after I've discovered what the story is really about. Read More 
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Character Names

Character names shouldn't be a burden to the writer or the reader. Some names -- Chastity, Faith, and Christian come to mind -- carry a great deal of baggage with them. It's hard not to be overly ironic or completely lacking in subtlety when you use them. I avoid them. I also try to help the reader as much as I can with my names. Short story writers need to pay special attention to names because they have so little time to distinguish one character from another. For that reason, I also avoid names that sound similar. I rarely use names with the same first letter in a story. A short story with both a Bruce and a Brian isn't helpful in creating characters that stand apart. Read More 
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