He got up and sat on the edge of the bedstead with his back to the window. “It’s better not to sleep at all,” he decided. There was a cold damp draught from the window, however; without getting up he drew the blanket over him and wrapped himself in it. He was not thinking of anything and did not want to think. But one image rose after another, incoherent scraps of thought without beginning or end passed through his mind. He sank into drowsiness. Perhaps the cold, or the dampness, or the dark, or the wind that howled under the window and tossed the trees roused a sort of persistent craving for the fantastic. He kept dwelling on images of flowers, he fancied a charming flower garden, a bright, warm, almost hot day, a holiday—Trinity day. A fine, sumptuous country cottage in the English taste overgrown with fragrant flowers, with flower beds going round the house; the porch, wreathed in climbers, was surrounded with beds of roses. A light, cool staircase, carpeted with rich rugs, was decorated with rare plants in china pots. He noticed particularly in the windows nosegays of tender, white, heavily fragrant narcissus bending over their bright, green, thick long stalks. He was reluctant to move away from them, but he went up the stairs and came into a large, high drawing-room and again everywhere—at the windows, the doors on to the balcony, and on the balcony itself—were flowers. The floors were strewn with freshly-cut fragrant hay, the windows were open, a fresh, cool, light air came into the room. The birds were chirruping under the window, and in the middle of the room, on a table covered with a white satin shroud, stood a coffin. The coffin was covered with white silk and edged with a thick white frill; wreaths of flowers surrounded it on all sides. Among the flowers lay a girl in a white muslin dress, with her arms crossed and pressed on her bosom, as though carved out of marble. But her loose fair hair was wet; there was a wreath of roses on her head. The stern and already rigid profile of her face looked as though chiselled of marble too, and the smile on her pale lips was full of an immense unchildish misery and sorrowful appeal. Svidrigaïlov knew that girl; there was no holy image, no burning candle beside the coffin; no sound of prayers: the girl had drowned herself. She was only fourteen, but her heart was broken. And she had destroyed herself, crushed by an insult that had appalled and amazed that childish soul, had smirched that angel purity with unmerited disgrace and torn from her a last scream of despair, unheeded and brutally disregarded, on a dark night in the cold and wet while the wind howled

The Blog

  • 16 Writers Who Break Storytelling Rules image of tag icon

    Any time some well-intentioned writer tells you, “You can’t do that” in your story, please send them this article. Because this article celebrates breaking the rules! Here are more than sixteen writers who deliberately break the rules of narrative to make their book better. The twenty writers below gleefully and blatantly shatter the most fundamental […]

    September 7, 2022

    Read More
  • 5 Glorious Ways to Use Lists in Your Fiction image of tag icon

    There’s nothing fancy about a list. Lists are the vanilla flavor of fiction, the most basic tool the writer can have in their toolbox. It’s the simplest way to organize information — no fancy frills, no tricks, no complexity. What you see is what you get. 1, 2, 3. A, B, C. Yet in its […]

    July 12, 2022

    Read More
  • 11 Examples of Fight Scenes image of tag icon

    One of the best ways to learn how to write is to learn by imitation. So if you want to write a fight scene, you should look at writers who have come before you. Below are a variety of fight scenes: some just with fists, some with weapons like swords, spears, and knives. All of […]

    May 19, 2022

    Read More
  • 21 Rules to Write a Fight Scene image of tag icon

    It’s time to write a big fight scene in your novel, but you don’t want to botch it. That’s understandable. I’ve read enough badly written fight scenes to know that it’s truly easy to write a boring, predictable fight scene with nothing at stake, where the reader doesn’t even care who wins by the end. […]

    May 12, 2022

    Read More
  • 4 Ways to Write Summary in your Fiction (and avoid Scenes) image of tag icon

    Everyone tells you to write scenes. To show, not tell. But what if that was … bad advice? Or at least limiting advice, because virtually every great book in history uses summary and “telling” in at least a few places in the book. And surprisingly, some books use summary for MOST of the book. And […]

    May 6, 2022

    Read More
  • How to Write Characters on Drugs (33 Examples from Novels) image of tag icon

    When one of your characters is on drugs, you want to accurately portray the thoughts, actions, and speech of what someone would say on such a drug. But some of you might not want to take Ecstasy or Cocaine or Toad Venom in the course of your casual “writing research.” This post will rescue you! […]

    May 2, 2022

    Read More
  • 9 Ways to Describe Scents in your Book image of tag icon

    Smell is the best sense to use in your writing. Yes: it’s better than sound, better than sight, better than touch. There’s something about smell that bypasses all of the normal roadblocks in our brain and goes straight to memory and animal instincts. It’s primitive. It’s elemental. If you want to really immerse a reader […]

    January 21, 2022

    Read More
  • 8 Ways to Write a Dream Sequence image of tag icon

    It’s easy to hate dream sequences in a novel. I mean, how many bad dreams sequences have you read? I’ve read a ton, and that’s why for so long I was resistant to teach other writers how to use dreams, and refused to use them in my fiction. But after continuing to see dreams in […]

    November 9, 2021

    Read More
  • 50 Incredibly Written Sex Scenes in Books image of tag icon

    Articles about sex scenes in books usually fail in one of 3 ways. They often: Give such a short love scene that you’re begging for more Feature novels with busty men or bodice-rippers on the cover Offer sex passages from the classics (D.H. Lawrence, anyone?) that everyone knows and has already read. The sex scenes […]

    August 18, 2021

    Read More