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Friday, January 20, 2017

Capitalizing on 'the building blocks of fiction'

“Before the scene, before the paragraph, even before the sentence, comes the word. Individual words and phrases are the building blocks of fiction, the genes that generate everything else. Use the right words, and your fiction can blossom. The French have a phrase for it - le mot juste - the exact right word in the exact right position.” – Nancy Kress 
Kress – who was born on this date in 1948 – is an award-winning writer of science fiction who has made it a habit to do just that:  Select the right word or phrase.  A stickler for the “science” part of her sci-fi writing, she also is noted for her attention to research to make all her stories exciting, interesting and plausible.

She is perhaps best known for Beggars in Spain, her novella expanded to a full-blown novel and winner of both the prestigious Hugo and Nebula Awards.  She also won the Nebula for Best Novella in 2013 for "After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall,” and in 2015 for "Yesterday's Kin.” A school teacher and then college professor before turning to creative writing, she has written numerous short stories, novellas, reviews and essays and is a much sought after presenter at writing workshops. 

As for advice to new writers, she said to work hard                    
 on the conclusion so that it leaves questions answered and readers satisfied.  “The most-asked question when someone describes a novel, movie or short story to a friend probably is, 'How does it end?'” she said.  “Endings carry tremendous weight with readers; if they don't like the ending, chances are they'll say they didn't like the work. Failed endings are also the most common problems editors have with submitted works.”

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