5 Tips For Writing Vivid Fiction From Edgar Allan Poe


'How many good books suffer neglect through the inefficiency of their beginnings!' ~Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe was an American author, poet, editor, and literary critic. He was one of the first American short story writers. He is known as the inventor of the detective fiction genre, and for contributing to the emerging science fiction genre. 

Poe was ahead of his time in his writing. Born on 19 January 1809, he understood that less is more. He had a critical plan for each piece that he wrote. In his essay, ‘The Philosophy of Composition’, he explains the elements that make up a good story. 

Poe takes us through the creation of his poem, 'The Raven'. He says he selected this well-known work to show that nothing is in it by accident. He writes '...that the work proceeded, step by step, to its completion with the precision and rigid consequence of a mathematical problem.'

5 Lessons I Learnt From Reading Poe's Analysis

  1. The work should have a vivid, original effect. He writes ‘Of the innumerable effects, or impressions, of which the heart, the intellect, or (more generally) the soul is susceptible, what one shall I, on the present occasion, select?' He says that tone and incident should be worked together to have the desired effect on the reader, 'whether by ordinary incidents and peculiar tone, or the converse, or by peculiarity both of incident and tone'.
  2. Do not overwrite. To have the desired effect, it should be read in one sitting. He says, 'if any literary work is too long to be read at one sitting, we must be content to dispense with the immensely important effect derivable from unity of impression.' Obviously, novels do not necessarily fit this rule, but he believed this was essential for effect. Perhaps our modern unputdownable novels with shorter chapters have the same effect on the reader. The ideal length for a poem, he says, is one hundred lines.
  3. Know the ending before you begin. He believes you need to know this to be able to plot effectively. He says, 'Nothing is more clear than that every plot, worth the name, must be elaborated to its dénouement before any thing be attempted with the pen. It is only with the dénouement constantly in view that we can give a plot its indispensable air of consequence, or causation, by making the incidents, and especially the tone at all points, tend to the development of the intention.' I agree with this. Read 7 Extremely Good Reasons To Write The Ending First and 5 Really Good Reasons To Outline Your Novel - before you write a word.
  4. Choose a setting that works for the story. Poe first decides what he wants to say in the poem, or rather what he wants the characters to say, and only once that is in place, does he decide where to set the poem. He says he needed to bring the lover and the Raven together in a specific way, '— and the first branch of this consideration was the locale. For this the most natural suggestion might seem to be a forest, or the fields — but it has always appeared to me that a close circumscription of space is absolutely necessary to the effect of insulated incident: — it has the force of a frame to a picture.'
  5. The tone should reflect the theme. He says the choice to allow the raven, a bird of ill omen to repeat one word, 'Nevermore',  in a monotonous, melancholy tone at the end of each stanza allowed him to ask: 'Of all melancholy topics, what, according to the universal understanding of mankind, is the most melancholy? Death — was the obvious reply.' The melancholy tone echoes the theme of death.

Follow the link if you want to read the complete essay and follow this link to read a selection of Edgar Allan Poe quotes.

Happy writing.

 by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on Facebook,  Tumblr,  Google+,  LinkedIn,  Pinterest,  and  Twitter.

If you enjoyed this, you will love:

  1. e.e. cummings - on being nobody-but-yourself
  2. 7 Writing Tips From Roald Dahl
  3. The Man With The Golden Pen — 5 Writing Secrets From Ian Fleming
  4. 6 Things Alfred Hitchcock Can Teach You About Writing
  5. 10 Elementary Tips For Writers From Sherlock Holmes
  6. 6 Lessons From Jane Austen's Novels - On Love, Life & Writing
  7. 17 Things You Probably Never Knew About Arthur Conan Doyle

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

27 Inspiring Gift Ideas For Writers (& Readers)

Most of the writers we've met love coffee (or tea), cats, and rainy weather. Real books ground them, and being surrounded by pens and pencils and paper makes them feel safe. 

They love word play, ideas, sentences that are properly constructed, and sentences that have the power to change their minds. They like readers and thinkers and philosophers. They also have a sense of the absurd. 

With this in mind, we put together a selection of bookish gifts for writers in December 2011 and December 2014. We've updated it for 2016. We hope you find something that you like.

6 Mugs (& A Spoon)

500 Word Mug by SparklyPrints

Committed Relationship Mug by Books & Cupcakes

Mr Darcy Mug by Miss Bohemia

Writer Mug via Amazon

Please Do Not Annoy The Writer via Amazon

Grammar Mug - Too, To, Two by Bookish Gifts

Caffeinated Writer by Bon Vivant Design House

Jewellery

Write & Edit Earrings by Michelle Mach

Punctuation Ring by Michelle Mach

Etc. Ring by Michelle Mach

Stationery

To Be or Not To Be pencils by CouldYouPlease

Pencil Set for Writers by IceyDesigns

Novel Ideas Pocket Journal by IceyDesigns

Notebook Journal by IceyDesigns

Textiles

Sorry I Can't Right Now I'm Busy Introverting Bag by Look Human

Oxford Comma For Life T-Shirt by BrainCloset

Alice In Wonderland T-Shirt by TeeRiot

Sherlock Holmes Opaque Tights by Coline Design

Text Appeal Pillow by IDefineMeProject

Alcoholic Options

Writer's Tears Cask Strength Whiskey by Walsh Whiskey

Writer’s Block Pinotage by Flagstone Wines

Prints

Writers Write Art Print by TheDreamyGiraffe

F Scott Fitzgerald Quote Poster by ObviousState

Odds & Ends

Soap for Writer's Block by Whiskey River Soap Co

Antique Books Scented Candle by Werther & Gray

Pride and Prejudice Loose Leaf Tea by FirstEditionTeaCo

And The Best Of All

Writers Write Gift Vouchers by Writers Write

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 by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on Pinterest,  Facebook,  Tumblr,  Google+,  LinkedIn, and  Twitter.

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

37 Fictional Drugs And Substances - Infographic

If anyone offers you Moloko Plus or Morphling, you'll know to say no after you read this infographic of fictional drugs and substances.

Source: J.Adler and Associates 

If you enjoyed this infographic, look at these:

If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme. If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Which Shakespeare Play Should You See?

Created in 2013, Good Tickle Brain is the world's foremost (and very possibly only) stick figure Shakespeare webcomic.

Mya Gosling, the creator of Good Tickle Brain says: "My father introduced me to Shakespeare when I was eight or nine years old, and I've been addicted ever since."

In this flowchart, she gives you some ideas about which Shakespearean play you should see if you're unsure.

Good Tickle Brain posts updates on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also subscribe to a weekly email digest newsletter.

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18 Beautiful Words With No English Equivalent

Source: Grammar Check

If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme. If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

e.e. cummings - on being nobody-but-yourself

Edward Estlin Cummings, known as e.e. cummings (born 14 October 1894, and died 3 September 1962) was an American poet, painter, essayist, and playwright. His work includes more than 900 poems, several plays and essays, numerous drawings, sketches, and paintings, as well as two novels. 

He was one of the most popular, pre-eminent poets of the 20th century. In the mid-1900s, he was the second most widely read poet in the United States (Robert Frost was the first). In his life, Cummings received many honours, including an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and a Ford Foundation grant.

He explains, in this reply to a letter from a high-school editor, what it meant for him to be a poet.

Source: Journal of Humanistic Psychology Source: Image

 by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on Pinterest,  Facebook,  Tumblr,  Google+,  LinkedIn, and  Twitter.

If you enjoyed this, you will love:

  1. 7 Writing Tips From Roald Dahl
  2. The Man With The Golden Pen — 5 Writing Secrets From Ian Fleming
  3. 6 Things Alfred Hitchcock Can Teach You About Writing

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

How Long Did It Take To Write The World’s Most Famous Books?

Have you ever wondered how long it took to write some of the world's most famous books? 

Printerinks analysed 30 of the world’s most famous books to compare how long they took to write. They created this infographic that shows John Boyne wrote ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ in 2 ½ days and J.R.R. Tolkien took 16 years to write ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. 

How long did it take you to write your book?

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If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. Please email news@writerswrite.co.za for more details.

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    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

    Banned Books Week 2016 - The 10 Most Challenged Titles Of 2015

    25 September - 1 October 2016 is Banned Books Week

    What is Banned Books Week?

    Banned Books Week is the book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read

    Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookshops and libraries. 

    The ALA (American Library Association) says: 'A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. The number of challenges reflects only incidents reported. We estimate that for every reported challenge, four or five remain unreported.'

    More than 11 000 books have been challenged since 1982. Have a look at the most frequently banned titles of these years:  2014,  201320122011

    The 10 most challenged titles of 2015 were:

    1. Looking for Alaska by John Green. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
    2. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James. Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, 'poorly written', 'concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it'
    3. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings. Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
    4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin. Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, 'wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints'
    5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, 'profanity and atheism'
    6. The Holy Bible. Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
    7. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. Reasons: Violence, 'graphic images'
    8. Habibi by Craig Thompson. Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
    9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter. Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
    10. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. Reasons: Homosexuality, 'condones public displays of affection'

    If you want to find out which books were the most challenged over the past 15 years, follow this link: The Top Ten Challenged Books Lists

    If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.

    Bookmarks: Quirk Books

     by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on Pinterest,  Facebook,  Tumblr,  Google+,  LinkedIn, and  Twitter.

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    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

    The Man Booker Prize Shortlist 2016 - How Many Titles Have You Read?


    Do you enjoy reading winners of literary fiction prizes or do you avoid them at all costs? 

    The winner of The Man Booker Prize receives £50,000, which makes it one of the world's most lucrative awards. All the shortlisted authors receive £2,500 and a designer bound copy of their book. The winner and the shortlisted authors enjoy a dramatic increase in book sales worldwide.

    The prize, launched in 1969, promotes the finest in fiction by rewarding the best novel of the year written in English and published in the United Kingdom. Judges are chosen from a wide range of disciplines, all with a passion for quality literary fiction.

    Up until 2014 you had to be a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations or the Republic of Ireland to enter. In 2014, it was opened to any work published in the United Kingdom and in the English language.

    The shortlisted authors 2016, clockwise from top left: Madeleine Thien, Paul Beatty, David Szalay, Ottessa Moshfegh, Deborah Levy and Graeme Macrae Burnet (source)

    The 2016 Shortlist (announced 13 September 2016)
    David Szalay (Canada-UK) All That Man Is (Jonathan Cape)
    Deborah Levy (South Africa-UK) Hot Milk (Hamish Hamilton)
    Graeme Macrae Burnet (UK) His Bloody Project (Contraband)
    Madeleine Thien (Canada) Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Granta Books)
    Ottessa Moshfegh (US) Eileen (Jonathan Cape)
    Paul Beatty (US) The Sellout (Oneworld)
    2015 Winner
    Jamaican author, Marlon James won the prize for A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld Publications) in 2015
    If you want to see a list of winners over the years, click here

    Read our posts from 2013: The Man Booker Prize - 12 Quite Interesting Facts and Eleanor Catton becomes youngest winner of Man Booker Prize

    If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.

     by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on Pinterest,  Facebook,  Tumblr,  Google+,  LinkedIn, and  Twitter.

    © Amanda Patterson

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    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

    Leo Tolstoy's 10 Rules For Life

    Leo Tolstoy wrote novels, short stories, plays, and essays. One of the giants of Russian literature, he is best known for War and Peace, Anna Karenina, and The Death of Ivan Ilyich.  He was born into an aristocratic family on 9 September 1828, and died 20 November 1910. 

    What were your rules for life when you were 18-years-old?

    Tolstoy originally wrote his "Rules For Life" when he was 18-years-old. However, he did not necessarily always stick to his rules and added more and refined others as he grew older.

    Faena Aleph says: 'His “rules of life” aimed to create an ethical and intellectual set of ideas that would allow him to make the most of his best hours and lend flexibility to his restless spirit, as well as keeping him on the ball.' (source)

    Source: Visual.ly

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    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.