Writing Fiction By Example

Learn to write fiction by reading and analyzing excerpts from published novels.

Write Like You're Baking Cookies

If you were to mix up a batch of cookies to share with friends, would you want them to eat them? Absolutely.

My wife made cookies for me to take to a gathering of friends yesterday.

Did Anyone Eat Them?

When I came home she asked, "Did anyone eat them?"

She was very excited to learn whether or not people had enjoyed her work.

I told her that everyone had at least one and they were almost gone when I left. She smiled and said, "That's great."

No baker wants his/her work to be ignored.


Baking Without A Recipe

When we begin to bake cookies we may not use a recipe. We may just jump in and bake. There's a lot we haven't learned, but we feel confident that people will like our cookies.

We go into the kitchen and mix up a batch of chocolate chip cookies which come out looking like petrified wood.


"Try these," the young baker says and pushes a plate of them toward his closest relatives. "I just made them."


The baker's mother takes one and bites into the dry burned lump and wonders if the crunching sound is a tooth breaking. She quickly washes the cookie down with some milk.


"Uh, those are delicious, honey. Next time though, how about if I give you a hand?" She lays the cookie down.


The young baker looks at the cookie laying on the plate. "Aren't you going to eat more?"


"Well, uh...they are a good try, but they're a little dry," mother says. "I have some recipes--".


"No, no, these are great," the baker insists. He picks up the cookie and pushes it toward her. "If you eat some more, you'll see how good they are. The beginning isn't always so good until you eat more."

Weeks later he can't understand why no one has eaten any more of the cookies.

Eaters and Readers Have Expectations

Eaters expect chocolate chip cookies to taste a certain way. If they do not taste as expected, then it is possible that we have not made chocolate chip cookies.

Same thing with writing. Is it possible that if people are not reading my work it is because it is something different than they are expecting? How do you fix that?

Start With A Recipe

You start with a recipe. Write [bake] in an expected way. Once you learn the recipe, you can alter it in [certain] correct ways, to make it your own.

Do Recipes Limit Creativity?

At first recipes may limit creativity, because you are just following instructions that someone else has done before you. But, later, when the recipe becomes a part of you, because you've made it so many times, you are able to innovate. You are able to make changes that transform the recipe something new. Then, you own it.

 Probably Innovation, Not Creation

Most likely the new writing you will do will be innovation. Innovation means taking something that exists and altering it so that it is a new thing.

Since you are taking something that exists and altering it, you will need to know -- thoroughly -- all about common techniques, processes, and tools that currently exist.

Once you learn enough of these basics and make them a part of you, you'll be empowered to see beyond the recipe. True creativity will erupt.

Why Not Creation

True creation would be an entirely new type of writing. Maybe creating a new language or something.


Here's a totally new creation of a new type of writing I'm making up right now called a Faiku (fay-ku fake-u).

Fillix manung dollia impf

Seecue trollid anka salf

exim impid affle dar

How many people do you think will read that?

Probably only me.

That's because readers have expectations of what they'll be reading.

How does knowing all of this help?

A Plan

It helps you create a high-level plan.

Now you know the importance of learning the basics of good writing.

Once you learn how to implement the basics of good writing, you're writing will become clearer, more digestable. As your writing follows common expectations your possible audience will grow. As your possible audience grows, your readership will grow.

No More Petrified Biscuits

Your readership will grow, because you understand the importance of giving the reader what she wants, instead of cramming your petrified biscuits down her throat.

Empathy For Readers, Transforms Writing

Understanding the balance of author's creativity versus reader's expectations will cause you to write with empathy for your readers. Your desire to write things that people want to read, driven by care for your readership will totally transform your writing.

Ultimate Writing Success

That care will feed your readership and drive your ultimate success.

Ultimate Creativity

Once you've established your readership and they know who you are, you will again be able to innovate and do new things that your readers will be more likely to swallow.

 Starting with a recipe becomes the ultimate plan for success and creative freedom.

Keep on learning, keep on writing.