1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

How did your idea of writing fiction change when you actually started doing it?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by DylanRS, Jul 20, 2018.

  1. DylanRS

    DylanRS Dreamer

    OR: What surprised you about writing fiction?

    I'll have to think about this question more to really cement my own answers, but one thing I can offer as an example is that I should stop waiting to be "perfectly ready" before I start a session of it. And when I did start buckling down and actually writing some things, I'd always tag every sentence with "maybe" or "perhaps." It was to keep a distance from what I was brainstorming, and there was always that illogical but strong sense that someone might be reading over my shoulder, or that someone might very soon read my private notes. It was like I was leaving them messages to protect my ego while I churned out some basic ideas and thoughts.

    Eventually I started leaving the "maybe"s and "perhaps"s out, and just trusted myself to keep that distance and freedom to whatever degree I wanted. Then something fun happened. I started getting into more of a rhythm. I even started getting into "character" and brainstorming like I was already telling pieces of a story.

    There was an article here recently about the merits of the writer's notebook. There were two pararaphs in particular that specifically addressed this sketchbook-like idea and the importance of simply generating something for the sake of it. Perhaps somewhat egotistically, this type of advice could never resonate with me properly until I "came up with it" myself.

    So that's what this thread is supposed to be about. From the early days of your practice, what are some of the things you've internalized better about writing fiction? What concepts did you end up abandoning or reworking? This thread could serve as inspiration for those of us who are still in those early days, or even those of us who are still developing our determination engine. And for those of us who focus too much on reasons not to write, it could serve as a collection of evidence that writing could be quite different from what we expect.
    Heliotrope likes this.
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    >this type of advice could never resonate with me properly until I "came up with it" myself.

    This is a really important aspect to all writing advice; indeed, to pretty much all advice everywhere. It has to come at the right moment. This is why I don't believe in "basic" versus "advanced", and least not in the arts. You can read the same tip at different stages and it will resonate differently. So, here's my tip: only listen to the ones that speak to you and don't worry about the rest. At the same time, don't figure your learning is linear. Always go back to previous advice and look at it anew.

    I've been writing all my life, and many hundreds of thousands of words have been about medieval history. I understand that exposition differs from fiction, but mostly writing just feels like writing. Whether it's a point or a plot, I'm still trying to persuade the reader. ("persuade" is a lovely word, btw; its original root means to make sweet)

    I'm not sure it was a lesson learned, for I knew it as a hsitorian, but writing fiction certainly drove home to me the fundamentally different process of editing.
    It's one of the reasons why I don't hold much truck with muses and inspiration. The muse comes up with ideas and moments. The storyteller is required to turn that into a tale. And it takes the editor in me to make that into a finished work. The muse has the easy part.
  3. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    “Almost all writing is re-writing.”

    Like Skip, this is the biggie for me.
    zoey, Taniwha and Laurence like this.
  4. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    One of the biggest, and most difficult lessons I've had to learn is that no one cares.

    Okay, so that was overly melodramatic, but it also sums things up quite nicely.
    What I mean is that it's not enough just to write a story. You also have to make your reader care about the story and its characters, and you have to make them care more about it than about whatever else they could be doing instead of reading your story.

    That was a pretty rough wakeup call.

    Fortunately, I also learned that I don't have to write my story in such a way that everyone cares. It's enough that the people I write for enjoy it (middle-aged ex-goths).
  5. FifthView

    FifthView Vala

    Before, I had this idea that, because I had read so much in the genre, the writing should come easily. It was just a matter of sitting at my desk and writing.

    It's still a matter of sitting at my desk and writing, but I quickly learned that extensive reading over years and years made very little difference on the quality of my own output.
  6. argentquill

    argentquill Scribe

    Taniwha likes this.
  7. FifthView

    FifthView Vala

    Another thing that surprised me: The devil really is in the details.

    I've always had Big Ideas (tm), been able to feel an overarching theme, have an interest in certain types of characters, and so forth. I've always been able to visualize various types of plot/story. Having a general idea for the world of the story.

    But when it comes time to writing, what fills those smaller spaces becomes so very important. Each paragraph, paragraphs combined, scenes and chapters. Just knowing that a character is intelligent and witty and lovable doesn't provide me with all the instances of this I'll need for the book. As for the world of the story, I come to realize I'll not need just a general view but will need some idea of the smaller details like the types of food that are eaten, the building materials for various structures, the granular effects of a particular philosophy or religion, etc.

    And another: Narrative prose is not like other forms of prose.

    By this, I mean that just because I've written numerous essays, blog posts, office memos, emails, reports, many poems in different styles, and so on, this doesn't mean narrative will simply require a slight tweak. It's a whole other ballgame.
    TheCrystallineEntity likes this.

Share This Page