About Writing, Life and Writing About Life

I didn’t quite get to do my usual Tuesday post about writing in some shape or form. So slightly delayed, here it is today. This is also slightly momentous in a ‘that’s interesting to me, but probably no-one else cares at all’ way as it will be my 100th post on this blog. Things have changed quite a bit since I started working on my third book as I started this blog a few months ago. The progress on that book has been slim indeed, as Be An Author and all that goes with it have claimed much of my attention. There has also been the diversion of making plans and beginning the research for my first foray into fiction, which will be a historical novel based on one of my husband’s ancestors.
In order to reflect where I’m up to now, I thought I would begin a series of occasional posts with what I learn about writing fiction. I hadn’t written any fiction since school until I dipped my toe into the water though the wonderful Friday Fictioneers project begun by Madison Woods and now hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. I am gradually thinking about what is important to learn about writing fiction, so would be really happy if you can offer me some suggestions. My intention is to try these things out in my Friday Fictioneers stories, and to make notes that I can use when the research is done and the writing begins.
My third book is still important, and the writing of that will begin in earnest soon. And of course I will report on any progress here!
For now, then, I need to know what it is important to learn about when writing fiction. The topics that have come up so far are:

  • Show, don’t tell.
  • In Media Res/Backstory
  • Making believable characters
  • Dialogue

What else should I add to my list? Are there any great resources that will help me learn?

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Comments on: "Lessons in Fiction – Where to Start?" (6)

  1. Be careful of overloading your sentence beginnings with gerunds. (One of the things my editor of my first book zeroed in on). Too much passive voice, ie was going, was pretty, was doing such and such gets tedious.

    • Thanks Rochelle – I just had to Google what ‘gerund’ means. I did miss out on a lot of learning of sentence structure due to a mentally unstable English teacher, but have always got by so far. Sounds like it is time to take my education a bit further now. So I have two more topics – gerunds and active vs passive voice. I also think there is something to consider about writing in first vs third person, and present or past tense, but I don’t know if there are technical names for these.

  2. Point of View or POV. Sorry, I shoud’ve clarified gerund so you didn’t have to look it up. I had to do the same thing when my editor pointed that out.

    • Thanks Rochelle. Amazingly I went to see an old friend today who I haven’t caught up with in ages. She teaches creative writing and says she wants to turn her handouts into a downloadable resource! Needless to say I volunteered immediately to be a beta-reader 🙂

  3. […] Any visitors who also want to weigh in with the essential elements of fiction writing can do so here in order to help me […]

  4. […] Last week I was thinking about what I needed to learn in terms of writing fiction. The first one I want to talk about is In Media Res, which literally translates as ‘Into the Middle of Affairs’. This is all about where the story starts, and involves jumping right into the middle of the action, then usually telling the beginning of the story in one or more flashbacks. This is a very common technique in movies, for instance. I had a try at using this technique in one of my Friday Fictioneers stories, which you can read here. Some (for instance Stephen King in his book On Writing) would say that In Media Res is over-used, and not a good technique to use. But I think it is only an extension of what every story does. They don’t generally start with something like ‘Anne was born in Yorkshire, the second child of Barbara and Jeff Lomax’, so there is always a lot of story that comes before what you write. This is called the backstory. This can be introduced in flashbacks, by characters referring to events that have gone before or internal musings of the main characters. I think different techniques probably work for different books, but you might have to make a decision before you begin writing. I think the opening lines of a novel are very important, and using the technique of In Media Res can help to set up a very intriguing beginning that makes the reader desperate to know how this point was reached. This is all relevant to me as I consider where to start the main part of my novel. Does it begin with my character’s life spiralling into poverty and deprivation, or with her standing in the dock (or at one of the other eventful moments in her life, such as this snippet which formed another Friday story) and then proceed to tell how she got there? It is possible that I don’t need to know when I start, and that this can be developed in the rewriting. I would be very interested to know how other authors make these decisions. […]

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