Nancy Kress is a prolific author, having written more than sixty short stories and more than a dozen sci-fi novels. It was her book on the elements of fiction writing, Beginnings, Middles & Ends, that caught our eye. The book, said by some to be the best in the Writer’s Digest series for fiction writers, contains a lot of practical advice for busting through the parts of a manuscript that trouble writers most. This writer, during a dragging middle crisis of her own, put Kress’s book to the test and was very happy to find her techniques to be like a guiding light, a reminder of what the focus should be. Kress has written other well-received writers’ books as well, including Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint and Dynamic Characters: How to Create Personalities t.hat Keep Readers Captivated. We’re pleased to bring you this interview with her–a taste of what she offers in her book on Beginnings, Middles & Ends.
Interview with Nancy Kress
Q: What are some of the most common problems writers face when writing the beginning of a book?
A: There’s no one answer to this. Some writers (I’m one) start books easily, dashing into their idea and characters like surfers into a good ocean. Others are overwhelmed at the start because they have so many things to get down on paper: the characters, the setting, the history, some tense dialogue – that they’re not sure which should go first, second, etc. The mistake I see most often is starting with pages of expository “background.” It’s much better to get characters onstage, doing something, as soon as possible.
Q: How do you know you’re starting your story in the right place? [Read more…]