Why most fiction authors never get published or make it to the end of their first draft, and some lessons you can learn from that, even if you are not a writer.
Writing Fiction For Dummies
This is an Affiliate Review: Writing Fiction For Dummies
Why My Writing Sucked:
You plod along with this constant imagination. You are seeing things in weird ways nobody else sees. You have have these stories that just won't go away. You have to write them down. You start with the movie playing inside your head and you write. You write furiously...
Then somewhere along the way you lost the inspiration to write, but you push ahead anyway. You figure all writers must go through this, so you plod along. Somewhere along that path you lost the picture in your heart and started writing what you thought would be a logical next step. You took the leap from heart to head and lost the heart of the story.
It became linear, boring, bland.
You don't even like reading it.
So you gave up. Maybe that was days, weeks, maybe even years ago.
That is my story. Until I started writing more on my blogs and doing more consistent non-fiction writing. That I can do. In fact, that I can do and it seems to come painlessly. I write from what I know and it flows. It's not perfect, it's getting better. I'm learning about SEO and little things to make it more professional. But non fiction works easy for me now.
I discuss banking 50 calls a day for a major financial institution. In fact, I've processed more than 96,000 phone calls regarding banking and finance. So I can write on banking without hardly thinking about it. It flows out of me like a memory, because it's nearly auto pilot in my mouth on a daily basis.
But I didn't start there. I started not knowing anything about banking. I came to work for the bank to learn about money and how to handle. What I teach now so effortlessly I did not know in 2005 when I was living with my wife and child in my van.
How how did I learn it? Practice. One conversation, one article, one situation I had to dig in to find the answer to through research, one at a time. I've now taken more than 96,000 phone calls for the call center and spent an additional 1.5 years in the branch. That's why I know what I know.
The other reason I know what I know is because I wanted to know. I spent breaks reading internal news feeds and reading through policy sites. I picked up books and blogs on the topic of money. There are people who have worked here for five years that knew less than I did in my first five months. I was motivated to know more, so I pushed and learned.
How does this relate to Fiction Writing? It correlates exactly!
I never grew as a writer because I:
- Didn't write
- Didn't push to learn more about writing.
It's that simple. If you want to know something about something; go learn about it, and then put into practice everything you learn. If you find a new technique about how to make the perfect sentence, go try a bunch of those sentences in your fiction journal.
Now my fiction journal is AuthorFun.Blogspot.Com. I find blogging the easiest way to keep notes. Some of my journals are private but not this one. I WANT people to read that one and critique and learn. I want them to grow as writers and help me grow as a writer too!
Well, I started that journey to writing more. I'm writing semi-daily. I haven't been as perfect about my schedule there, but I'm writing more this month than I did in the last few years combined, so that's progress.
I needed to learn more. So I picked up: Writing Fiction For Dummies (Affiliate Link) by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy. GREAT book! It really broke down the craft of writing in a way I hadn't realized existed. It honestly never occurred to me that if a Guitarist or Painter needs to study their craft to get better, so should a writer.
I know the reason I don't play guitar as well as I could, even though I've played since 1993, is because I play what I know VERY well, but I don't know what I don't know. I stopped learning more so I only play to the level of my learning.
You can't just practice, you have to learn more and put new skills into your practice! Tweet That!
If you want to develop your craft as a fiction writer I would definitely start by reading Writing Fiction For Dummies (Affiliate Link). I read three books so far this year on writing fiction and this is the only one of the three I'd actually buy.
Not only am I going to buy it, I'm going to keep it handy and pull it out every time I get stuck on one of the many topics they covered. I'm going to keep it as a guide or handbook! It's that good!
Four Life Lessons, from learning about fiction writing.
1. Take Action. Learn Your Craft
You can't just assume that you are going to be great at something because you have a passion or talent for it. People often say that Michael Jordan was rejected from his high school basketball team. But instead of giving up, he practiced more than anyone else. That practice led to him becoming one of the best of all time.
It's not just practice though. If you practice the wrong things you will ingrain bad habits. And if you only practice what you know, you'll only get better at what you know. You have to try new things to get better at the craft as a whole.
Study the greats, learn from others, get feedback. Put into practice everything you can regarding the passion you have. If you are wanting to be a photographer, then don't just take more pictures. Take better pictures. Try new angles, new lenses, new settings. Read, Read, Read, Read... Read more about your craft. Find publications or blogs on your topic.
2. Create a Powerful Emotional ExperienceIf you want to be successful in any real endeavor in life. You will need to be able to craft powerful emotional experiences. People don't buy the iPhone because it was the first or the best, even though it was the first and with some debate may be the best.
They buy it because it Apple, under Steve Jobs, knew how to create a powerful emotional experience. The very packaging speaks to fine lines, and high class. It's a status symbol.
I ran a tire shop for several years and heard often how badly put together Jaguars were from a mechanics perspective. But they create an emotional response in the buyer that overrides other "Facts".
If you are doing anything worth while. Starting a Church, Business, Blog, or just answering the phone for a company, or ringing up groceries... Whether you are the cart pusher or CEO... If you will make a point to create powerful positive emotional experiences for your clients they will come back because of you.
3. Stories have structures
If you want to write a flowery description of an event that occurred, it could make great non fiction writing. If you want to write fiction you must introduce structure. Stories have a begging, middle, end, plot, and purpose (story line). There is a mission to accomplish.
I can't believe I never saw it before. Every movie or TV show I watch now; I see these structures in the story. Even watching a simple sitcom, I see these structures running through it. Actually knowing what I know in this book has helped me to appreciate Movies and TV more, and watching those has helped me understand what is going in in the written form too.
Life has structures too. Look for the patterns that God has frequently shaped your life with. When you see a pattern start to emerge listen for God's voice in it. If you are missing the structure, the pattern, the cadence, the rhythm... it may because you went off script and you need to return to His path.
4. Story Goal
About 1/4 into a story, be it a 20 minute sitcom or 3 hour movie, you will see a set up for "The Story Goal". The story goal is the thing your character(s) must accomplish in that story. Some major event or tragedy interrupted their life and caused them to pursue this goal to it's bitter end. During the next sections, 2/4 and 3/4, of the story you will see two major set backs (at least) and more commitment from the characters to keep up, with temptation to quit. The last part, 4/4, of the story the character is "all in" and must complete the story. The ending may be good or bad. But the story goal will not be unanswered (unless it's going into a two parter!)
Our lives are never so simple. And yet... I feel as though this does play out in our lives. That series of events in senior year of high school that seemed all consuming then, are but a memory now. My story goal changed. You see. In the movie the character existed before you came in and (usually) lives after you end. They keep going. The story, although captivating for a time, isn't meant to go on and on.
I feel like out lives are lived as a novel series. Each book is a portion of our lives, each chapter plays out. Maybe all of High School was one book, with four parts. For me, I think my last two years was one book.
Learn to recognize the ebbs and flows of your life. When a story goal is ending, another will be soon to follow.
In Review:So watch for your Story Goal (it will change from time to time), look for patterns and structure in the way God communicates with you, and remember to fully engage, create powerful emotional experiences for those around you, and in doing so, for yourself. If you have a desire to do or be something. Take action. Don't just wait for it, learn about your craft and put it into practice.
What patterns do you see in your life?
How can you create positive powerful emotional experiences for the people around you?
* If you are a writer, or just interested in behind the scenes type information. I suggest you buy this book. If you click my affiliate link I will get a commission from that sale from Amazon. I thank you for your support. Writing Fiction For Dummies (Affiliate Link)
By Darrell Wolfe
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* Information here is As-Is. These are the opinions of a fellow traveler and seeker of truth. I am not a doctor, lawyer, licensed financial advisor, tax preparer, etc, etc... I'm just one guy, sharing what he's learned. As such, the information may be as true or faulty as the guy on the buss stop giving you directions. If you need accurate information I encourage you to seek the help of a professional in your field.
* I do make money from this blog. 1 Tim 5:18 says the worker is worthy of his wages. I do earn affiliate commissions or freebies from some of the products I discuss at various points on this blog. Regardless I only suggest things that have personally helped me, or someone I know. If you click on an "Affiliate Link" and you buy something I'll get a cut. Thanks for your support!
* I am a conservative Christian. I write from a bible-centric point of view. I welcome people from other points of view to jump into the conversation. If you don't like bible-centric writing: I encourage you not to read my posts.... Unless you want to learn something new.
* In all you do: Live Long and Prosper, with GOOD SUCCESS!
Thank you, Darrell Wolfe