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Fiction-Writing Modes: Eleven Essential Tools for Bringing Your Story to Life

Fiction-Writing Modes: Eleven Essential Tools for Bringing Your Story to Life

Автором Mike Klaassen

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Fiction-Writing Modes: Eleven Essential Tools for Bringing Your Story to Life

Автором Mike Klaassen

4/5 (1 оценка)
271 pages
3 hours
Oct 3, 2015


Are you thinking about writing fiction? Writing a novel? Trying to improve a manuscript? Then you need to know all about fiction-writing modes. Eleven fiction-writing modes comprise all written fiction. If you don't know what they are and how each works, how can your story reach its potential? Writing fiction isn't easy, but trying to write a novel without a solid understanding of fiction-writing modes is an exercise in frustration. You can learn about fiction-writing modes in three ways: (1) just start writing and hope you learn over time, (2) read lots of books and attend a bunch of seminars, or (3) study a book devoted entirely to the subject. Mike Klaassen has already read the books and attended the seminars. Combining his copious notes with his own writing experience, he's identified and defined eleven fiction-writing modes that comprise all written fiction. Save yourself a ton of time, money, and frustration with one comprehensive, concise book. Inside "Fiction-Writing Modes," you'll discover: all eleven modes, a definition of each mode, the nuances of using each mode, practical examples of how to use each mode, which modes are the most effective in fiction-writing today, how combining modes can magnify your writing power, and much, much more. Why spend countless hours doing your own research? "Fiction-Writing Modes: Eleven Essential Tools for Bringing Your Story to Life" is a treasure of straightforward, practical information that you can use immediately. Unlock your full potential with "Fiction-Writing Modes" today!
Oct 3, 2015

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Fiction-Writing Modes - Mike Klaassen




Four fiction-writing modes may be classified as interiority, as they reflect the inner workings of your character’s mind: sensation, emotion, introspection, and recollection.



… the fiction-writing mode that evokes the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste).


Verbs of sensation




Other word choices




Character emotion

Physical reaction

Relative power of senses

Intimacy of senses

The sixth sense

Choosing sensations

Sensation is the fiction-writing mode that enables a reader to see, hear, feel, smell, and taste the world of the story, helping him experience fiction as if he is living it himself.

Sensation provides the vivid detail that brings action to life, creating verisimilitude. For example, the taste and smell of blood during a battle scene. Sensation can stimulate recollection, which may be useful in communicating backstory. For example, the smell of perfume may trigger a character to recall fond memories of a lover.

Sensation can be a powerful tool for character development, especially regarding a character’s emotional responses to particular stimuli. The sight of a puppy may generate feelings of happiness, while the touch of a spider may engender revulsion or fear. Likewise, a character’s reaction to sensations may provide a common thread for the development of one or more of a story’s themes. For example, the recurring sound of distant drums may remind the reader of the presence of danger.

As a fiction writer you have a variety of issues to address when conveying sensation: syntax (verbs of sensation, action verbs, adverbs, adjectives, onomatopoeia, and word choices); figures of speech (comparison, and symbolism); emotional connections (intensity, character emotion, reader emotion, and physical reaction); and others (hierarchy of senses, sixth sense, and choice of sensation).


The basic verbs of sensation are see, hear, feel, smell, and taste. For any particular passage involving a character’s perception through the senses, you face the choice of whether or not to utilize the applicable verb of sensation.

Here’s an example using verbs of sensation (in italics):

Dirk paused at the back door of the livery stable. He smelled a mixture of prairie hay and manure. He could see horse stalls to his right and rows of saddle racks to the left. He heard a horse whinny and stomp its hooves.

An alternative to using the verbs of sensation (once the viewpoint character is established) is simply to describe the sensation. For example,

Dirk paused at the back door of the livery stable. The air reeked of prairie hay and manure. On his right stood horse stalls. To his left, rows of saddle racks. A horse whinnied and stomped its hooves.

Evan Marshall, in The Marshall Plan for Getting Your Novel Published, explains, "Though it’s desirable to make use of your character’s senses in your writing, it’s rarely necessary to use the actual verbs of perception such as saw, heard, and smelled. Ironically, these words distance the reader from your viewpoint character because they remind the reader that he is not actually living the story through the character."


As a fiction-writing mode, sensation is vulnerable to the overuse of modifiers. Adverbs, especially those that end in –ly, tend to dilute the effectiveness of description. For example (adverbs in italics),

A horse whinnied shrilly and stomped its hooves nervously.

Depending upon the context and objective, the adverbs shrilly and nervously may be unnecessary, even distracting. Here’s the same example without the adverbs:

A horse whinnied and stomped its hooves.

Omitting the adverbs presents leaner description that lets the reader fill in the blanks as to how the horse whinnied and stomped its feet. Sometimes an adverb adds just the right touch; sometimes it deadens the sensation. It’s a case-by-case decision, depending on a host of variables, including context, pacing, and tone.


Adjectives can provide interesting details that add realism, but adjectives can also dilute sensation. For example,

Pungent smoke filled the air, and Frank coughed.

The adjective pungent provides detail, but it isn’t necessary. Isn’t all smoke pungent? Would the character cough if the smoke weren’t pungent? Consider the sentence without it.

Smoke filled the air, and Frank coughed.

Depending upon the context and objectives, omitting the adjectives creates leaner description that allows the reader to participate by filling in the blanks.

Adjectives can also create an unintended sense of restriction. For example,

Frank coughed from the pungent smoke.

Was another type of smoke present? Did he cough at the pungent smoke but not at the acrid smoke or the putrid smoke? In many cases, leaner description words best. For example,

Frank coughed from the smoke.

These examples illustrate another pitfall of writing sensation—describing it. Rather than trying to describe the sensation, you might better serve the reader by establishing a context so the reader feels the sensation using his own experience. For example,

Frank tossed an old tire on the bonfire. Black smoke billowed skyward. That smell mixed with the stench of scalded chicken feathers. Frank coughed and gagged.


Hiss, murmur, boom, whir, buzz, plop, meow, gurgle, bang, hiccup, and slurp. Say each word aloud and note how the sound mimics the object or action represented. These words are called onomatopoeia. Say the words again, louder, and observe the movement of your lips, mouth, and tongue and how they contribute to the sensation of making the sound.

Onomatopoeia provides an opportunity to suggest sound and action with a single word. The use of such words adds richness to the depiction of sensation and contributes to making description feel real. Which of the following sentences provides the more effective description of sensation?

A fan turned noisily overhead.

A fan whirred overhead.

A fan creaked overhead.

See how the verbs whir and creaked suggest both motion and sound?

Onomatopoeic words may function as nouns or verbs. The duck quacked. The duck’s quack echoed across the valley.


Fortunately (even beyond verbs of sensation, action verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and onomatopoeia) a universe of words is available to portray sensation. The choice of one word over another can make a difference in effectively conveying sensation. For example, does a lover touch or does he caress? Should a smell be described as an aroma? A scent? An odor? A stench?

Does the word generate a positive or negative connotation? How does a change of words alter the emotional response? Which emotions are stimulated by each word choice? Sometimes the differences are subtle; sometimes they’re substantial. Your job is to pick the word that best accomplishes the desired sensory effect.


Stating what something smells, tastes, or feels like may be effective, but what if the reader is unlikely to recognize the sensation?⁶ For example,

Archie hesitated. The air reeked of rotten eggs.

Today, few of us raise chickens. Even people raised on a farm are unlikely to have smelled a rotten egg. Not too long ago, the smell of sulfur reminded many of the smell of rotten eggs. Readers today are more likely to recall the smell of sulfur from a high-school chemistry lab or a geyser in Yellowstone National Park.

When attempting to communicate a sensation that the reader may not recognize, comparison to a familiar sensation may be helpful.⁷ Similes and metaphors may be useful. For

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