10 Reasons Fiction Writers Should be Considered Superhuman
A new writer weighs in...
Back in November, I took on the challenge of writing a novel for the annual NaNoWriMo. I chose a kid's middle reader chapter book because I figured those average around 60,000 words and any more than that seemed a tad ridiculous.
My memoir is about 55,000 words but that was an entirely different situation. I retold a story that actually happened from my perspective.
This fiction stuff is kicking my ass.
Here is why I think bestselling authors must be some other version of human....
10 Writing Principles that Make Fiction Authors Superhuman
1. Point of View - I never realized how much there was to the whole idea of who's telling the story. First person is simple. I, me, etc. 2nd person is usually for online writing, not novels. In that POV, you are speaking directly to your reader (this blog post is 2nd person). 3rd person can be done several different ways - limited or omniscient. Limited means you use she, he, etc. but you only tell the story from one person's line of sight. Omniscient means you have a narrator. I've started another manuscript (that's currently on hold) and I chose that one to be 3rd person limited (the easier of the two).
This book I'm on now? I chose 3rd person omniscient and it's killing me. I have to be so careful about head hopping (when you jump from one person's thoughts to another and jar the reader). Choosing to tell certain pieces of information is so taxing on my brain!
2. Action - How much action is too much? Too little? I haven't written the climax yet. I know the ending of the story and I've got all the characters lined up to do the "BIG SCENE" and my brain can't formulate how that big scene unfolds. I have an ending but no route to get there. So I keep reworking the beginning and middle until something comes to me. My book is pretty plot heavy (which I've never tried before) so I need a good sequence of middle-grade kid thrill.
3. Characters - I want characters with depth, but it's hard to develop a whole town's worth of characters! I feel like I need to make posters of each person...with their story goal, their quirks, etc. I frequently forget what people look like and what their last names are. Then I write stuff and wonder if the person would actually say that in real life?
4. Protagonist - Funny thing happened. I wrote the whole story with the idea that Annalise (the girl living on the island) was the main character...and then I realized that her sidekick Lexie was actually the better protagonist. Since the story is about the both of them together, they both need to be developed well - but I am rewriting the whole damn thing with a new protagonist. Can I tell you how hard that is?
5. Perserverance - Editing is such slow work. On a good day I can get through about 5000 words. There are so many types of editing too! Structural editing, plot work, character development, line editing, grammar, proofreading, etc. It's a miracle there are any books on shelves. How do people do it?
6. Self-doubt - It's not easy to give something so much time when you must battle the thought, "This sucks!" If I knew my manuscript would be a best seller, well then I would plod along. But the truth is, most first, second, even third manuscripts are garbage. The desire to quit is strong. But then I refuse...because I know that finishing this script so it is the best it can be, will ultimately make me a better writer. I have to stop seeing it as wasted time just because it isn't going to be a #1 hit.
7. Fiction is harder than non-fiction - I knew this intuitively, but now I KNOW IT. Fiction requires so much imagination...coupled with organization. Just because you can dream up whimsical lands doesn't mean you can turn it into a working story that readers will follow from beginning to end. At least with non-fiction, you are dealing with facts, topics, research, and evidence. For me? I know my imagination is the weak spot. I am fairly organized and can write a tight storyline (I think) but I struggle with the more creative side of fiction writing.
8. Fatigue - At the end of the day, who wants to spend a year on one story? It's hard to look at your script with fresh eyes. I've been working on this (in bits and pieces) since November and I'm already tired of it. There's nothing new and unpredictable. I know every inch of the book, which makes it hard to have perspective.
9. Rejection - After all the blood, sweat, and tears, you may never get an agent. People may never give you the accolades you deserve. I'm starting to think authors are some strange masochistic version of an artist. It doesn't seem fair or right. If authors are going to slave away for months, there should be paycheck at the end of it.
10. Repetition - Every story has been told already. The author's job is to bring a new version of it to life with fresh characters, ideas, and twists. This is not easy. Like walking a tightrope, at any minute - you may fall into someone else's book. "That sounds too much like Harry Potter or the Hunger Games." How do you create something new when every tale is already in a book somewhere?
Let's raise our glasses to fiction authors
You people are incredible. I salute you. Thank you for bringing us fantastic stories that require so much time, energy, and thought.
I hope one day, I can write a book that moves people the way I've been moved by so many wonderful books.
About the author
Julie DeNeen is a full-time freelance writer and wanna-be author. She has self- published a memoir on Amazon called Wanted - a chilling tale of her adoptive reunion with her birth father.