Bryant Park has a special event “Word for Word Series”, and one of them is especially for writers.

Miranda McLeod, a 28 years old writer, gives a workshop on fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir, and poetry in 4 consecutive weeks.

Today, I started the first fiction workshop.

5 things to bring magic to your writing:

1. Write all the time. Truth is essential to fiction, though fiction is not true, but it should feel true.

2. Relate to details Specificity of details makes fiction convincing. It should convey expertise, and it comes out of experience and imagination.

3. Characters have to be flawed. Flaws of a person make a person a human.

4. Dialog should always review the characters and result from the character. Avoid exposition in dialogue. And remember characters are always thinking while talking.

5. Rewrite. Especially read dialogue aloud. And expand magical part to other clunky parts.

The following is the list she suggests to read to write fiction:

  • On Writing                                         Stephen King             Craft
  • Writing Fiction                               Janet Burroway        Craft
  • Elements of Style                           Strunk & White          Craft
  • Runaway                                           Alice Munro                Short stories
  • Unaccustomed Earth                  Jhumpa Lahiri            Short stories
  • The Things We Carried               Tim O’Brien                  Short stories
  • Lolita                                                 Vladimir Nabokov    Novel
  • Song for Night                                Chris Abani                  Novel
  • Mercy                                                Toni Morrison             Novel
  • Straight Man                                   Richard Russo              Novel
  • Out Stealing Horses                     Per Petterson                Novel/Norwegian
  • The Dumb Waiter                          Harold Pinter               Play —great dialogue
  • Motherless Brooklyn                   Jonathan Lethem       Mystery/detective fiction
  • Lonesome Dove                            Larry McMurtry          Western

Then this is my exercise in twenty minutes to create a scene with details:

“Here we are, Mum”

She pulled over in front of a 3-story town house, newly-furnished in the front but pretty old in the rear. The neighborhood was crowded with the similar houses and the street was fully packed with cars. I climbed out of the car and waited for Stella to find a parking spot, which seemed to be almost impossible within the nearby 3 blocks, at least.

Finally I was led into the door but could hardly see anything in the sudden contrast from sunlight to the darkness inside. She turned on the corridor light and a steep stair covered with a not-known-what-color carpet, was leading to the upstairs.

“My room is on the third floor.”

I tried to put my foot on the first stair, expecting it to send out a cricking groan, and it did. I hesitated, though momentarily, and kept stepping on to the next, grabbing the greasy rail for assurance, which instead gave me more shakes than support.

I looked back to see Stella attempt to climb the stairs with my big luggage in one hand, holding the rail with the other.

“Oh, no, wait, till I’m up there.”

“The shaking rail resumed to rest, but my 79-year-old legs could no longer stand all of these and I finally sat down on one stair, another loud, noisy crack.

“I don’t understand why you have to live like this.”