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10 Reasons Fiction Writers Should be Considered Superhuman

Updated on February 14, 2013
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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....

What angle are you telling your story from?
What angle are you telling your story from? | Source

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.

Is your story action compelling - you know - like these two hippos over here!
Is your story action compelling - you know - like these two hippos over here! | Source
How developed are your characters and their relationships?
How developed are your characters and their relationships? | Source

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?

It's hard.

Battling your own fears and questions can deprive you of the energy you need to get through the book.
Battling your own fears and questions can deprive you of the energy you need to get through the book. | Source

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.

It's exhausting work!
It's exhausting work! | Source
Cheers to the superhuman fiction writers in the world!
Cheers to the superhuman fiction writers in the world! | Source

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.

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    • patchofearth profile image

      patchofearth 4 years ago from somewhere in the appalachian foothills

      Does all of this mean your giving up? I hope not. I suspect not anyway as you mention that you are still working on it. And just think, at the end, pay check or no paycheck you can count yourself as a member of the superhuman as well.

    • RBJ33 profile image

      RBJ33 4 years ago

      Julie - after reading your hub, and the comments I had to lie down and rest. Good work, but makes me wonder why anyone would tackle such a task. is it in hopes of success, fame and fortune, or just because you want to?

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      What a wonderful read and I vote up,across and share.

      Have a great weekend.

      Eddy.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      You did such a great job with this topic. I definitely have a new favorite article. :) For many many years, I wrote fiction exclusively and am now in awe at how much I was able to churn out most weeks. You're right that it is so much more time-consuming and draining than non-fiction. I'm not sure what I'll ever be able to make a full switch back. I'm so in awe of people who produce high quality fiction on a regular basis.

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Julie, I have never yet been able to complete a full novel--not even a complete rough draft...So I agree that fiction writers are amazing! The whole "point of view" is so tricky! I start off writing in second person, but then accidentally slip into first person, or third person. I appreciate your breakdown of the different point of views also, it helps to clarify what I know I'm already screwing up! It sounds like you have put a lot of work into your novel and I'm sure it will end up being great. Please let us know once you publish!

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      I share your pain Julie. I'm working on my first novel, having published two non-fiction books. IT IS HARD, much harder than non-fiction. Because it's a historical novel, I'm doing as much research as if it were a history book because I want to be impeccably accurate. I'm not feeling very super human at the moment. Thanks for sharing - I look forward to reading your book. Russ

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Sounds a challenging task but if you want to achieve your goals you got to go ahead and keep on thinking and writing creatively.

    • profile image

      Ghaelach 4 years ago

      Morning Julie.

      An excellent article on the problems of the wanna be writers. Although I enjoy writing on HP and other sites, the fiction side of writing for me is so awesome. I wrote a short story, sometimes called flash fiction, and left the end open for a follow on, and now I'm struggling with it. I think the best thing which is oft suggested, is to leave it for a few weeks and come back to it with open eyes.

      From reading this hub I've actually learnt a lot, and although I think I will never be up on the level of Wilbur Smith, Steven King, and J. K. Rowlings and all the other members of that elite club, I'm happy with what I do on HP with such wonderful friends.

      I will keep my fingers and what ever else it takes, to wish you great success as a writer and that you accomplish your goals

      LOL Ghaelach

    • M. T. Dremer profile image

      M. T. Dremer 4 years ago from United States

      Fiction writing really is a thankless profession. I spent eight years refining a two book story arc into what I thought was publishing gold. Forty rejections later and I'm starting to think self publishing is the only option left. Most publishers won't accept a manuscript with out an agent, and most agents couldn't give a crap about us. It's all business, which means if your story is intriguing, but hard to sell, you may never be able to get it published. Writing is a wonderful and challenging career, but the publishing side of it is grotesque. It will take every opportunity to clobber the fun out of writing. I think we are a little bit masochistic to put up with it. But it is encouraging to know that our love of writing trumps the heartless business world. We wouldn't be able to persevere if it didn't.

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 4 years ago from UK

      Well, Julie, since I see myself as primarily a fiction writer, I am delighted to be classed as superhuman! Thank you! (Though I am not as yet a best-selling author - fingers crossed. ) I do agree that writing fiction can be hard, and for a while I almost stopped, but I'm back working on a novel again and really enjoying it.

      It took me 12 years to write my first novel, and I've been working on another for a couple of years now on and off.

      I wrote a hub a while ago about how writing fiction can be frightening, and in some ways I think it can feel more personal than some non-fiction - though memoirs of course would be even more personal. I think it's because of using your imagination that it can feel as if you are putting more of yourself in than when writing articles.

      Incidentally, when I wrote my first novel I got stuck because I needed to know the ending, so I wrote that and then it was easier to find the route it needed to take to get there. So my suggestion to you would be to get that ending down and then see what happens.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Hi, Julie....Yes, writing fiction is definitely hard work. I've mainly written short stories, but am at work on a novel, have another (half-finished) one languishing until I'm motivated to return to it, plus a completed play that needs a thorough re-write.

      Will I get these all completed, much less published (or, in the case of the play, mounted onstage, even in community theater or off-off-off-Broadway) before I get too old and creaky (or lose too many of my brain cells) to finish them? Who knows?

      I've learned that I am not Superwoman, a role I attempted with limited success during my "real" career. Now that I'm retired from that exhausting and stressful endeavor, my main goal is to enjoy the writing I do. Yes, I would like to have everything that flows from my brain to the computer screen be published and read, so I remain hopeful and keep trying.

      Point of view is an especially tricky aspect of fiction writing. I've used third person limited, third person omniscient and first person. I've also tried writing with multiple points of view--not successfully, I'm afraid.

      I salute those writers who persevere in the writing of fiction until they complete a novel that is imminently readable. Good luck with yours, Julie.

      Voted Up++

      Jaye

    • Briana Faye profile image

      Briana Faye 4 years ago from California

      This hub is so honest! I was chuckling throughout because I am struggling with the same things in my work. It is refreshing to be reminded that "it's not just me." Thanks for the hub. Voted up, and useful.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      You are a rock star! My editing is languishing!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Not just bestselling authors. Being a bestselling author simply means you have some talent and you were in the right place at the right time. Anyone who takes on the task of writing a fictional novel has a major task ahead of them. I have done both, fiction and non-fiction, and by far the hardest is fiction...by far. I'm on my second novel now and I'm struggling daily with it, and I suspect that struggle will continue for the next six months.

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