Ron Carlson Writes a Story – by Ron Carlson


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This book was recommended by the online MOOC writing course conducted by The University of Iowa that I am attending now.

I had thought before reading the book that this is a ‘How to write a story” kind of book, with proper structure, plot idea, POVs, you know, the how to write fiction kind of book, but I was wrong.

As noted in the title, this book is all about Ron Carlson writing a story, the actual writing and inner author thought process, from the first sentence, right to the period on the last word. He took 1.5 hours to craft this short story, using his experience (write what you know), with explanation on why (a) new character(s) are added, all without an outline, much like how I write my 70K-word-novel.

In it, he very much articulated how I felt, as I forced myself to sit in front of my PC, typing out the next sentence despite the tonnes of ironing calling out to me. (For him, it’s the cup of coffee.) How often was I, like him, tempted to be satisfied as we finished the last paragraph, to just vacate the seat, yet we remain, pushing our limit.

He does give some ounces of advice, like how the outer story is just as important as the inner story, the choice of names of your characters (don’t use names of people you know), using time as a suspense, and how to refrain from checking the dictionary until the draft is completed.

I like how he warns that a sentence may mark the end of the story prematurely and how one could add inventory to go to the next scene. Pretty much how I did.

By the time you finished reading the process, you pretty much know the short story he had written – The Governor’s Ball, but he includes it at the end of the book so you could see the final work, where he regretted ‘the pot shot’, and how resisting the coffee gave him a leading line.

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About vickychong

Just an ordinary woman.
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