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Fiction: The Facts - Introduction

This is how it happens for me: I see something - a picture in a museum, or a photograph. Or I hear something - a snatch of angry conversation or a piece of juicy gossip. Or perhaps I just feel something - a rush of sudden and breathtakingly powerful emotion. These are the things that get me going, give me the urge to make a fictional world and people it with characters. It's an urge I've had for as long as I can remember and it's no accident that it keeps happening again and again, that act of seeing and then reflecting, because it is a habit: one I was lucky enough to fall into by accident.

I can remember the very moment when I became aware of it. I was eighteen, sitting on a swing in a dilapidated but very picturesque garden of a country hotel in Cheshire. It was high summer and the red walls of the garden were groaning with monster roses. So like every eighteen-year-old should, I enjoyed the delights of the moment - a warm day, a swing, being on holiday, my exams behind me, university and life in front of me. But I also realised that the place and the moment was useful to me as a potential writer - it was a setting I could one day use in a story, and the person who sat on the swing could be anyone I liked. So I took a special mental note of it all, photographing the place with my mind. I realised then that life was more than just for living. Life was a material to be reprocessed and reformed into art by writers and painters and - well, yes, apparently by me. That was what I had to do.

Nearly twenty years and half a dozen novels later I still feel that. It's a constant challenge in the back of my mind to be struggled with. It can't be ignored. The craft doesn't come easy, and the necessary concentration and energy - and sometimes the will - can just fail, like an engine dying. But the desire to do it never leaves me. And I think this is something all writers share. That impulse to transform life as they experience it into a world of their own making; something that might, with a bit of luck, delight, enchant, or move another person.

About this e-book

This e-book has been written as a basic guide to the process of crafting well-made stories. It is a distillation of concepts that I have found helpful in the course of my writing career, but it is not intended to be the last word on the subject or to promote a particular theory of story. Like Writer's Café, it is intended to liberate your creativity rather than strangle it with particular forms or patterns.

I hope you enjoy the book and the software. Good luck with your projects!

Harriet Smart, Edinburgh

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