The Complications of Writing Fiction

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Article by Wendy McCance

On Writing, by Stephen King is a book I have wanted to read for a long time.  I was thrilled when I saw it at the library, and grabbed it up.  For anyone that hasn’t read this book, it is incredible.  It’s one of the best books I have read in a long time.

Stephen King describes a typical day, how he feels about writing and what types of things to look out for as you are writing.  He even gives you his formula for the length of time it takes him to write a book.  He writes 2,000 words a day for 3 months and then the rough draft is complete.  He goes into more detail and you can visualize how long the entire process takes for him from beginning to end.

I was so inspired by the book, that I decided to try my hand at some fiction myself.  Just a test run to see how I felt about writing in that form and what would pop out of my head.

The first night, I wrote 1,551 words in about an hour and a half.  The story came pouring out and I thought it was easy.  The second night, I couldn’t get a handle on the story until I read what I had already written.  I then ended up tearing it apart and only added a few words to what I had on paper from the night before.

What I began to realize was that fiction is hard.  It’s so very different from the non-fiction writing that I am used to.  When I write, the words just fly out of my head and onto the page.  Fiction frustrates me.  It slows me down.  I have to consider descriptions, he said/she said’s and it takes a lot of effort to get through a scene, a thought, a backstory etc…

I am not used to writing at such a slow pace.  It feels unnatural and a bit forced.  My story, the idea of it was interesting in my head, but bored me on the page.

I know this might sound crazy, but my opinion of what a REAL writer was, had to do with their success as a fiction writer.  I hadn’t realized I even felt that way until I started trying to write some fiction.  Growing up, I read constantly.  I always dreamed of writing fiction.  At the time, I wanted to write teen fiction like my favorite author, Judy Blume.  I never considered someone a “writer” unless they were an author, and a fiction author at that.  Now I am reevaluation the whole meaning of what a writer is.  Am I really a writer or not?  Based on my own prejudices of it, it would appear that I am not.

So even though this revelation of my own thinking process has made me stumble, I know that I will keep working on the fiction, not because I believe it will ever be bought up, but because I need to challenge myself and see how far I can take my abilities.  I realize that some people are poets and others are novelists.  Some people can write technical papers and some write pure fantasy.  I get it, but I guess I am stubborn.  I need to understand what areas I excel and what areas I bomb out in.  I want to push myself to the limit and see if the learning process of writing in such a different form evolves or is just not what I was meant to do.

So, I’m curious to know if my experience is similar to one you have had?  What have you learned from changing directions?  Any advice or sharing of your story would be well appreciated.

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Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 9 local papers online, including the Oakland Press. The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]

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17 thoughts on “The Complications of Writing Fiction

  1. I can really relate to your struggle with fiction writing. My husband has tried to get me to try and I haven’t yet just for the reasons you’ve mentioned.

    It takes a different creative mindset and I can see where it could be exciting as it takes a life of its own. I would probably enjoy it at that point.

    I think what deterred me from trying fiction writing versus nonfiction was in writing my manifesto, which was a different style. I finally finished it at almost 4,000 words but it took me forever.

    Good post. I’ll have to go back and revisit this again.

    • Pat, your comment made my day. It’s such a relief to hear from someone who really gets what I struggled with. I don’t want to give up only because I want to see how far I can push myself. But, I have to admit I just don’t enjoy it. Non-fiction is so much more comfortable to me.

      • I agree Wendy but it’s always worth the try to learn new things. It only makes you more valuable and offers your followers more.

  2. I agree with Daya. I always wanted to be a writer, thought I would be someday, but then “Doubt” moved into the picture and has complicated things. My thoughts and ideas are so all over the place that when I think of doing it I become overwhelmed… but right now I can’t anyway cuz my mom is still very sick and I am the only one in town who can do anything for her. You just do what you’ve gotta do… 😀

  3. I’m right there with Daya… Doubt has crept in and now I’m actually afraid to try for fear of failure. The organizing of all the thoughts in my head is hard for me.. My thought’s are all over the place. I’m such an (ADHD) thinker, and writer. LOL Great article though Wendy and I will certainly try to read this book!

  4. I’ve had three short stories published and all of them were fiction. I really don’t have a formula or strategy for that type of writing. The ideas and story line(s) sort of presented themselves and I somehow ended up with saleable, well-crafted weird humor pieces. I hope to reactivate that aspect of my writing in the future. It certainly is a fun way to write and very satisfying.

  5. I would think writing fiction would be very difficult because you’re making it up as you go. I would think you’d have a basic concept of what the story is or would be but then putting it on paper and have it to be interesting enough for someone to enjoy would be a serious challenge. I applaud your efforts:-)

  6. If I may say so, I think you started at the wrong end. When I write fiction, I think it through first. I “see” a scene. Then what follows? Another scene. I work the the transition out in my mind. Then the next scene.

    For me, writing fiction is more like watching a movie bit by bit out the kitchen window or in the shower or wherever and this goes on for days as the plot unfolds.

    THEN I sit down and retell it, just like I’d relate a movie I’ve seen or a book I’ve read. I have to fill in what I can’t quite remember and there’s still some working out for scene transitions. Sometimes the plot takes an unexpected turn, but I don’t know if I’ve ever sat down to write fiction without having the thing mapped out in my head first.

    • Aha, that’s it!! I think you’re right. The type of writing I have always done has been so free-form. I hadn’t thought of it as writing like you are describing a movie scene. That’s the genius advice I needed. I know at some point a writing class will be in my future to smooth out the process. Thanks so much for your thoughts.

  7. I haven’t had much success with fiction, nor does it appeal to me at a deep level. I claim that it’s because I’m a control freak. I don’t want to relinquish that control to my character. Not yet, anyway.

  8. Your thoughts are almost verbatim to my own. I grew up always reading books, short stories and feeling as if writing fiction was what I was meant to do. Then, I started doubting myself because my thoughts are out there but trying to organize them is a really slow process for me. How do you deal with that slow process yourself?

    • That’s tricky. This is all so new to me. I have done so much non-fiction writing and it just comes so easy and feels like a natural part of myself. Fiction writing really threw me because it was the reverse. It feels so unnatural. I have no answer yet on how to deal with the process.

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