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Feedback Q&A on Fiction Writing

by Ron Kurtus

Readers have sent in a total of 25 comments and questions on Fiction Writing issues. They are listed according to date.

You can read them to further your understanding of the subject.

List of next 10 letters




Elements of Stories How do you plot a good fiction story? USA
Owl Creek Bridge Questions on this story USA
Motivations I have great love for fictional writing Nigeria
Elements of Stories What are main themes of memoirs of prisoners? USA
Jobs Are there any paid jobs for fiction writing? USA
General Who started writing the fables? Phillipines
Random Story Random plot was very funny Bulgaria
Developing Characters How can reader learn about a character? USA
Dictation Professional transcribing more accurate USA
Dictation How good is Dragon Naturally Speaking? USA

Next 10

First 10 letters

How do you plot a good fiction story?

Topic: Elements of Stories


April 1, 2009

How do you plot a good fiction story?




Start with a simple plot for your protagonist main character, starting with a goal, problem, action and resolution. That is the theme of your story. Then develop subplots for other character that will intertwine with the hero's plot.

See the Simple Plot Generator to get an idea of writing plots:

The story outlines are silly, but you can get an idea about developing a very simple plot.

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Questions on this story

Topic: Owl Creek Bridge


January 5, 2009

-Why does Peyton Farquhar have the last thought he has before he dies?
-What is the Union soldiers' reason for hanging Farquhar?

Mariela - USA



People are thinking all the time. The story shows how in the few seconds before a person dies, he or she can have many thoughts.

Peyton Farquhar was a a Confederate sympathizer during the United States Civil War and considered a spy or enemy by the Union soldiers.

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I have great love for fictional writing

Topic: Motivations


December 11, 2008

I have great love for fictional writing. Though i have written some unpublished work which i hope to publish soon, I still need to develop my skill more. How do i do it.

chioma - Nigeria



One nice thing about what you write is that it lasts forever. Thus, you should hold onto your unpublished writing. Continue to write and experiment with new ideas. You might go back to an old story and refine it or add to it to improve the story.

But also, you need to know who your audience is. Who do you want to read your stories? You must think of them when you write, because you are communicating ideas and adventures to them.

If you can find other fiction writers, you can meet on occasion to critique each others stories. It is good to have someone carefully read what you have written so that you can learn about lapses in logic of the story, grammar errors or ways to improve it.

The big thing is to keep on writing. Write, write, write.

Best wishes on getting published soon.

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What are main themes of memoirs of prisoners?

Topic: Elements of Stories


November 12, 2008

What would be the main themes of memoirs of prisoners?

Is it a given that we observe some fictionality in memoirs?

Birhan - USA



A memoir could be any memories of a person. A prisoner may tell about his road to crime or tell about his happy childhood. An autobiography would be a summary of most of the person's life.

Certainly, people will exaggerate some portions of their lives, while minimizing other portions. A prison inmate might exaggerate how clever he was and minimize the harm his crimes did to others.

Just about all memoirs have some fiction in them.

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Are there any paid jobs for fiction writing?

Topic: Jobs


October 16, 2008

I would like to know of any websites or links, where there are paid jobs for fiction writing, available. I have a great passion for writing to express any thoughts, whether objective or subjective, based on a variety of subjects and materials. I would like to perfect my writing skills to the highest degree, in order to, become more eloquent and extremely creative, as most "page-turners" are. Please reply to my request at your earliest convenience! It would be greatly appreciated and HAVE A BLESSED DAY!

Karen - USA



Some magazines that have short fiction stories pay their staff to do the writing. But most get stories from freelance submissions. A job writing fiction is extremely rare.

Consider magazines that you enjoy to read and see if they include short fiction stories. If not, look for some that do. You can see a listing of magazines that purchase fiction in the Writer's Market and Writer's Handbook books. Check your library or bookstore for one of these books. They also give good information on how to make your submissions.

I believe the best way to start is by writing short-short fiction stories, which are only 300-500 words long. Often they are the easiest to sell or get published. Then progress to short stories and finally to writing a book.

Note that it is good just to get published, even if it is for free. There are websites that will publish stories and you can write stories for you own blog, but that does not have the credibility as a story published in a magazine.

Best wishes on become a best-selling fiction writer.

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Who started writing the fables?

Topic: General


August 26, 2008

who started writing the fables

jennelyn - Phillipines



Fables were originally only told verbally many years ago. After writing was discovered, they were written. There is no one person who started it. Fables were written in many countries.

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Random plot was very funny

Topic: Random Story


June 12, 2008

I will just show you the random story I got and you make your own conclusions :)
I couldn't get myself to stop laughing for at least 10 minutes :D

Introduce protagonist and setting

A long time ago in an old castle, a handsome boy named Freddy was walking along, minding his own business. Freddy looked and dressed like Mother Theresa.


Suddenly, he saw Bevis, who was weird and looked a little like Homer Simpson.

Point of tension, conflict or problem

Bevis proceeded to eat a huge boy's hat. The boy's name was Saddam.

Effort to stop antagonist

"Stop, you jerk!" Freddy yelled out. But Bevis started to run away.

Seem to fail

Freddy chased Bevis for 3 minutes. Bevis could run fast and seemed to be getting away.

Happy outcome

But then in a final great effort, Freddy ran as fast as humanly possible and surprisingly caught the scoundrel!

Saddam was so happy, that he offered to buy Freddy a banjo.

Thus ends a good story.


- Bulgaria



Yes, that was a funny one. I'm laughing too. But of course, it does show a very simple plot that can be recognized in many stories.

Best wishes in your writing.

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How can reader learn about a character?

Topic: Developing Characters


April 26, 2008

give three ways by which a reader may learn about a a character in a story

nona - USA



In a story, the reader can learn about a character by what he or she does and the reactions to events. Also, other characters can talk about the person. The author can describe the character and tell what type of person he or she is. One other thing is that many stories tell what the character is thinking, which is also way to learn about the character.

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Professional transcribing more accurate

Topic: Dictation


February 9, 2008

For years, I've tried voice-to-text software-only solutions. In business applications, none compare with what a trained professional transcription secretary can produce. They are good for drafts. For years, industry statistics have failed to account for user training time and correction time.

For accuracy you can't top a professional transcriptionist.

Good luck.




Thank you for your feedback. Over the years, I had tried the software but was also dissatisfied. But the recent versions are so improved that they are well worth looking into. Training time is typically 5 minutes and corrections are not that much of a problem. But also, you must speak clearly to get accurate transcriptions.

For a beginning author, hiring a professional to transcribe the dictation might be too expensive.

Whatever method is used, writing by dictation is something worth trying.

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How good is Dragon Naturally Speaking?

Topic: Dictation


January 18, 2008

Enjoyed your article on using a tape recorder.

What is the accuracy in translating your audio files which you have downloaded from the recorder using "Naturally Speaking" to text. Did you use the standard version or the professional - is there a difference?

What is the best tape recorder to use to hook up to "naturally Speaking" - are there format issues for recording the audion on a Windows PC



ninan - USA



I use Dragon Preferred version. Both Preferred and Professional allow input from tape recorders. Professional has a number of features that I would never use, so I purchased the less expensive Preferred version.

See: for a comparison of features.

I use an Olympus Digital Voice recorder WS-300M. The big advantage of this recorder is that fact that it has a built in USB plug that goes directly to your PC. Other recorders, such as Sony, require a cable and installed software to download your dictation.

Naturally Speaking accepts MP3 and WMA audio files.

Using the recorder with a lapel mic improves the Naturally Speaking accuracy, but it still is not as good as the 99% accuracy when sitting at your PC. I'd say 80-90%. Also, you can't make corrections on the fly, as you can at your PC.

Still, it is a great method to get your spoken words into text.

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