What’s the best way to write fiction?
What’s the only way to write fiction? It’s one word at a time. But, it’s difficult to express complete thoughts in single words. So, then, we must string these words into sentences. These will form paragraphs, which hopefully will form a coherent narrative that forms upon the page before us. Then, we continue to write paragraph, after paragraph, one page at a time.
And, yes, reader, I must involve you in this process. After all, writing is a very intimate, personal experience. Truly good writing can’t just be for the self. Yet, some writers clearly do not involve the reader. Indeed, this is a tragedy. Still, the act of writing shouldn’t produce a sermon unless you are a bona fide preacher. No, it's all about connecting with you, my dear reader.
Many authors are obsessed with trying to know who their target audience is and to know them inside and out. In some cases - say, with children's books - it’s a tactic which you may take to construct your narrative. But, some authors take too many assumptions into account on the part of their reader.
The author's job should be to not bore you. In my humble opinion, too many authors bore so many readers. Yes, maybe you'll know this or that when you come to reading my piece. You'll feel like I should already know that you know these things. But, there's a simple way around this. It's on me, the writer, to make sure if something is brought up that should be generally common knowledge that it is directly involved with what I'm getting at.
I must give you, the reader, a trail to follow. My thought process must be made somewhat intuitive through the writing. Many artists get really artsy, and this artsiness can become distracting. While there is nothing wrong with taking artistic liberties, it’s the job of a good writer to draw the reader into the narrative. Even if you may be unfamiliar with all or most of the individual points, you must be able to see a thought process behind all of it. This is the challenge that all writers face.
So why should you care? I could ramble on forever about the half-million things that go across my mind on a daily basis. It's actually rather incredible how many things actually are on one mind at any given time. The conscious and unconscious minds are so often not in sync. It's why sometimes we just get distracted and we don't really know how. Somehow, though, the act of writing actually can give one access to the nether space between the conscious and unconscious.
When a writer really applies one's self to the task of constructing a narrative, things tend to appear on the page that seem a bit unfamiliar. At times, they seem out of place within the conscious realm. The human mind is really an incredible machine. There are so many things that it can process that often get shoved aside by the conscious mind. A lot of that is simply because of how cluttered "modern" daily life has become.
It's no secret that meditation techniques can help one write better. There is often just too much clutter in our heads to be able to construct anything incredibly interesting on a regular basis, even for dedicated writers. You can't force creativity. It just sort of has to happen.
I hate to reference a cliché. But my prefacing tidbit "one page at a time" is very much like "one day at a time" in that you have to take each challenge as they come. Even if you’re not a writer by profession, you are still the scribe of your own life's story.
You may think, how can I be the author of my own life story if so many things are out of my control? I’m not here to offer you self-help or reveal some special secret to being an amazing writer. No, I am simply saying that many different aspects of life are not as disparate as they at first seem.
You may think, life is non-fiction and fiction is a way to escape that often grinding daily existence. Well, to be fair, there is a very startling similarity between fiction and non-fiction. Fiction is often compelling because of how colorful the settings and characters can be. But in non-fiction, that can also be true. You may say you like fiction because what you're reading you may be convinced couldn't really happen.
Truth is, anything is possible. Nothing is truly impossible, only astronomically improbable. So when you hear "nothing is impossible" it's not false, but it's only a half-truth. No fiction is totally made up. Fiction is always based in some bit of truth. We integrate plenty of fiction into our own lives. If you tell someone a "real-life" story, and don't have your facts straight, it's not completely true. So, guess what? It's fiction.
Am I saying that life is just a world of part-truths with more fiction than fact? Not exactly. But, daily life sometimes can seem that way. Many people I see function in such a way. We live in a world full of so many possible avenues of escapism. As soon as we step outside of what is considered "serious" there is a lot of grey area that you can play with. This is the writer's playground.
There are cold hard facts of life that need to be accounted for, yes. But, what if we play around a bit and pretend that these cold hard facts were instead fiction? How do you rearrange things in such a way to make them more interesting? It's all about making your reader look at things from a different perspective. From a certain perspective, all of our lives are just a fiction that we create in our own minds.
If you're ever stuck, remember perspective. Twist things just a little bit to make it more interesting, without losing sight of the heart of the matter. You may discover things you wouldn't have otherwise. Then, so won’t your readers.
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