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The Six Core Elements of Fiction Writing

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“Find your best time of the day for writing and write. Don’t let anything else interfere. Afterwards it won’t matter to you that the kitchen is a mess.”
―Esther Freud

In this newsletter:

  • The basics of writing fiction, with lecture notes from instructor Jack Smith.
  • From staff member Sean Glatch, a delightful look at the different effects of Latinate and Germanic words in our writing.
  • December 11: Join us for a flash and poetry reading with instructor Barbara Henning!
  • Browse our updated course calendar through early January.
  • Join our Facebook group and share your craft with us, and find us on Instagram.

I hope you and yours are happy, healthy, and well.

—Frederick

Featured Student Feedback:

“Sandra was excellent. She took the time to give detailed feedback, explaining both positive and instructional comments. I would gladly sign up for another of her classes.”

―Phillip Rainey, Crafting a Story or Novel Chapter Using Forward-Moving Tension with Sandra Novack (November 18, 2022)

Starting This Week

The Wandering Heart: Tales of Connection (November 30)

with Giulietta Nardone | 4 Weeks | $295

Wander through the rooms of your own life to discover stories of deep connection, reconnection or loss of connection and fashion your findings into stories suitable for blog posts, essays, short memoirs, short plays, scenes in screenplays, or chapters of novels.

Memoir

Accessing Your Writer’s Voice (November 30)

with Gloria Kempton | 3 Weeks | $245

Voice: What is it and how do you find yours? Instructor Gloria Kempton offers feedback on assignments in this 3-week online class.

Lifestyle and Wellness

How to Firm Up the “Mushy Middle” of Any Story (November 30)

with Jeff Lyons | 5 Weeks | $345

Ensure a strong middle throughline for any story. Say goodbye to the "mushy middle," and hello to stories that work.

Novel

Poetry Workshop: Bring Your Poems to Life (November 30)

with Rosemary Tantra Bensko | 8 Weeks | $495

Join us for this workshop on creating powerful poems—poems that are clear and organized, fresh and moving, full of life.

Poetry

Techwashed!: Writing with AI, Data, and Surveillance (December 3)

with Shankar Narayan | 2 Saturday Workshops | $205

Raise a mirror against society's relationship to technology in this two part workshop series where we will learn how to write about tech.

Short Story

Browse full course calendar

From the Writers.com Staff

Here's a great note on writing style, from Lydia Davis:


The English language has many etymological influences, each with its own surprising histories. (For example, why do we have multiple words for meats, like "pork" and "ham" or "poultry" and "chicken?" When the British Isles were ruled by the French-speaking Normans, this created two distinct classes, which developed two different vocabularies for the same foods.)

These influences endure to this day. Words with Latinate roots tend to be more abstract. Latin is the language of law, medicine, and many different sets of academic terminology. They're great "idea" words, but what if you want to use language that's more visually grounded? Sticking to words of Germanic or Anglo-Saxon origin is your best bet.

Paying attention to the roots of words might help you better employ those words in your work. The history of the English language courses through every sentence we write, and learning this history can help you use language that surprises, captivates, and transports your reader.

—Sean Glatch, Writers.com Administrator


December Reading: Poetry and Flash with Barbara Henning

Instructor Barbara Henning will be reading poetry and flash pieces from her new project, currently titled Girlfriend.

Sean had the pleasure of hearing some of these poems at a reading in Brooklyn, and they're sure to delight you.

About Barbara: Born in Detroit in 1948, Barbara Henning moved to New York City with her two children in 1983. After a few interim years in Tucson and Mysore, India, she returned to New York, presently living in Brooklyn. She is a poet who also writes prose—her most recent book is a hybrid biography of her mother, Ferne, a Detroit Story (Spuyten Duyvil); four novels, Just Like that (SD), Black Lace (SD), You Me and the Insects (SD), and Thirty Miles to Rosebud (BlazeVox); eight full length collections of poetry: Digigram (United Artists Books), A Day Like Today (Negative Capability), A Swift Passage (Quale), Cities & Memory (Chax), My Autobiography (United Artists), Detective Sentences (SD), Love Makes Thinking Dark (UA) and Smoking in the Twilight Bar (UA); and numerous chapbooks. She is also the editor of The Selected Prose of Bobbie Louise Hawkins (BV) and Looking Up Harryette Mullen (Belladonna), and the author of Prompt Book: Experiments for Writing Poetry and Fiction (Spuyten Duyvil 2021).

Join us on Sunday, December 11th, at 3pm Eastern. Register here!

New Writing Tips

How to Start Writing Fiction: The Six Core Elements of Fiction Writing

Tips for getting started in fiction writing, including a close look at the elements of good storytelling.

Read more

Our Upcoming Courses

Browse full course calendar

December Courses

How to Pitch (December 10)

with Rachel Krantz | 2 Single-Day Webinars | $195

Learn the ins and outs of pitching your work to print and online publications from Rachel Krantz, a full-time writer and formerly the Senior Feature Editor at Bustle.

Personal Essay

(Live Workshop) Intro to Screenwriting (December 13)

with Susan Pohlman | Single-Day Webinar | $115

In this workshop, you'll learn the ropes of screenwriting and create living pieces of collaborative storytelling.

Stage and Broadcast

Write into Mystery: Writing Flash Memoir on Wonder and the Unexplained (December 14)

with Joanna Penn Cooper | 4 Weeks | $295

We often encounter wonder, mystery, and the unexplained in our everyday lives. Turn those experiences into flash essays in this community-centered course.

Personal Essay

(Live Workshop) Move Your Writing Forward: The Art of the Bullet Journal (December 17)

with Rudri Patel | Single-Day Webinar | $115

Want to have a productive new year? Set up your bullet journal in this one day live workshop.

Lifestyle and Wellness

January Courses

Telling Truth: A Poetry Workshop (January 4)

with Ollie Schminkey | 6 Weeks | $395

Learn how to tell your story and write a mini chapbook of poems in this truth-driven poetry workshop.

Poetry

Write Your Novel! The Workshop With Jack (January 4)

with Jack Smith | 10 Weeks | $595

Get a good start on a novel in just ten weeks, or revise a novel you’ve already written. Free your imagination, move steadily ahead and count the pages!

Novel

A Writerly Life: Develop a Writing Routine that Works for You (January 4)

with Shelby Hinte | 5 Weeks | $345

What does a writer's life look like? Build a productive writing habit in this course for writers of all backgrounds.

Lifestyle and Wellness

Write Your Children’s Book! (January 4)

with Kelly Bingham | 8 Weeks | $495

If you’re looking for accountability, support, enthusiasm, feedback, and a chance to make progress on your Children's Book or YA story, then this is the place for you.

Novel

Putting It All Together: Completing Your First Poetry Manuscript (January 4)

with Caitlin Scarano | 8 Weeks | $495

How do you put together a poetry book? From choosing a theme to ordering your poems, you'll end this course with a ready-to-publish manuscript.

Poetry

Write Your Memoir in 12 Weeks (January 4)

with Blaise Allysen Kearsley | 12 Weeks | $695

Writing can be a solitary experience, but writing a full memoir takes energy, momentum, and moral support. Find all three in this memoir writing intensive.

Memoir

(Live Workshop) Starting Off Right: How To Build A Blog, Grow An Audience & Make Money (January 5)

with Jessica Festa | Single-Day Webinar | $115

When planned right, a blog allows you to share your passion and make money in the process. Learn how to build a blog in this one-day webinar.

Lifestyle and Wellness

Introduction to Writing the Lyric Essay (January 7)

with Derek JG Williams | Single-Day Webinar | $115

The lyric essay challenges us to tell authentic stories without concrete forms. Learn the ropes of the genre in this 3 hour workshop.

Personal Essay

The Joy of Poetry: A Beginner-Friendly Workshop (January 11)

with Joy Roulier Sawyer | 6 Weeks | $395

Have you wanted to get into poetry, but don't know where to start? Learn the craft from the Joy of poetry herself in this welcoming workshop.

Poetry

Writing Autobiographical Fiction (January 11)

with Jack Smith | 8 Weeks | $495

Learn to depart from "what really happened," and write compelling fiction from your own life experiences.

Novel

Writing Circle Workshop: Writing for Happiness, Healing, and Health (Monday/Friday) (January 11)

with Susan Vespoli | 6 Weeks | $395

Expressive writing can be a powerful elixir for what ails you. Learn and practice tools for writing expressively, including two virtual writing circles each week, turn raw writing into poetry or prose, and come away with a better understanding of how writing can lead toward wellness.

Lifestyle and Wellness

Starting to Write (January 11)

with Gloria Kempton | 8 Weeks | $495

For those who want to kick start their writing into high gear.

Lifestyle and Wellness

Liars, Lovers, Criminals: Story as Character, Character as Story (January 11)

with Lisa Taylor | 6 Weeks | $395

Characters don't just drive the story, they are the story. Learn how to craft character-centered fiction and give life to the people on your page.

Novel

Creative Writing & Storytelling Techniques For Business Professionals (January 11)

with Giulietta Nardone | 4 Weeks | $295

Good writing helps business connect deeply with the clients they're hoping to work with. Learn how to hone the power of story in your professional career.

Lifestyle and Wellness

Writing Circle Workshop: Writing for Happiness, Healing, and Health (Tuesday/Saturday) (January 11)

with Susan Vespoli | 6 Weeks | $395

Expressive writing can be a powerful elixir for what ails you. Learn and practice tools for writing expressively, including two virtual writing circles each week, turn raw writing into poetry or prose, and come away with a better understanding of how writing can lead toward wellness.

Poetry

Browse full course calendar

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