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Follow the online continuing education series for fiction writers of all levels: The Mechanics of Fiction Writing. Links to video forms of each lecture are available via the thumbnail in the appropriate section heading. You can support this series and future productions by purchasing a copy of the accompanying book of lecture notes and skill-sharpening exercises for yourself or as a gift to a fellow writer.


Lessons 1 & 2

Laying the foundation for Mechanics. Learn why fiction gets taught the way it does, how Mechanics changes the game, and how we can construct a functional definition of fiction as a target to aim at as fiction writers.


Lessons 3-14

Build a comprehensive understanding of how plot works in fiction based on decades of scholarship in narrative theory, breakthroughs in cognitive science, and a thorough grounding in narrative craft.


Lessons 15-25

Develop a bulletproof framework for understanding the narrator. Learn how the narrator's posture in relation to the story affects the narrator's attributes and functions, and how these characteristics shape the story each narrator tells.


Lessons 26-30

Learn how your readers form their impressions of your characters from the cues your writing presents them. Explore major attributes from reliability and agency to likability and roundness: access the keys to building characters readers will see as vivid human avatars.


Lessons 31-36

Discover how cognitive science shapes our understanding of how readers construct storyworld space in their minds: everything from how readers map space and even feel a "sense of a place" to how you can craft lasting images, you will enhance your ability to create vivid and immersive storyworlds.


Lessons 37-46

Sharpen your ability to convey your stories clearly, accurately, and beautifully. Heighten your awareness of rhythm, style, and sentence structure, and learn how reader-focused prose can more effectively and artistically convey stories worth reading and sharing.


Lessons 47-51

Survey both the abstract and more concrete elements of stories that exist between the lines: explore everything from metaphors (small and large) to the implicit rules of conversation to the symbolism and epiphanies that give stories their emotional force and meaning. Build a framework for understanding how and why stories are meaningful for readers.


Lessons 52-54

Cover a wide range of ground beyond the pages of the book itself. Consider useful advice on how to adapt well to a life as a fiction writer, from effective ways of approaching a blank page to protecting your mental health and well-being. Also examine the comprehensive list for further reading on the topics covered in Mechanics.

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Lesson Notes

References for each of the sources discussed in the individual lessons are on the attached PDF file, organized by section (unfortunately not by individual lesson) But all lesson references are listed through the button below.

The Mechanics of Fiction Writing is the most comprehensive, original, skills-based method yet created to instruct the art of fiction writing. Drawing from the diverse fields of Narratology, Cognitive Science, Linguistics, and established traditions in craft, this series offers accomplished and aspiring writers alike the best body of knowledge available on the crucial elements of fiction writing. Through this series, writers will deepen their explicit understanding of narrative techniques and sharpen their ability to apply them in their own writing.

The companion volume (available through the bookstore linked to the image on the right) offers writers a vehicle for practicing the specific skills presented in each lecture above. Every exercise follows a specific lesson, challenging writers to sharpen each facet of their writing in a unique and useful way. The notes and exercises encourage a mastery of plot, narration, character building, storyworld construction, sentence-level prose, and symbolic meaning. This is where knowledge meets function.

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