1. The95Writer
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    The95Writer Active Member

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    Academic/Formal writing in fiction

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by The95Writer, Feb 27, 2014.

    I am better at writing non-fiction and I am also more comfortable writing with formality but with some simplicity also for easy understanding. But when I write my novella I try to be less formal, which then interferes with my non-fiction where I aim to write formally. So, can I use formal writing in a novella?
     
  2. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    There is no question that writing fiction is very different from non-fiction, academic or otherwise. The only writing of mine that's been published have been advocacy pieces. Readers of instructive or advocacy pieces have different goals than readers of fiction. So, if your goal is to write publishable fiction, I don't think you're going to forward that end by lapsing into a more formal style in your fiction writing.

    You need to immerse yourself in quality fiction. Like a musician training his/her ear, you need to adjust your approach to fit what you want to write. And, like the musician, you need to practice, practice, practice. When you write, go back and compare it with quality fiction and see where and how you fall short.

    Best of luck.
     
  3. Peter Werme
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    Peter Werme Member

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    Personally, I prefer a little formality in language. I do, however, agree that the level must be kept at such a level that it does not interfere with the reading experience.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't think there's anything wrong with having an academic style, though it does have its limitations. Because it tends to be formal, it can be very hard to write passages involving, for example, the human thought process (stream of consciousness). That being said, if you're comfortable with this style and its limitations in fiction, then go for it.
     
  5. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Worked ok for H.P. Lovecraft and E.A. Poe. I'd say it might be a bit of an antiquated style for fiction, but if that's your thing then ... why not? It's your writing after all.
     
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  6. Foxe
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    Foxe Active Member

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    I'm like you with my writing expertise. Writing formally comes naturally to me, so it means that I have to be more conscious of my fiction-writing. Keeps my brain in work mode. I think they're complementary though -- or at least for me they don't clash.
     
  7. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    Formal writing is fact-based and author-centric It reports concisely and dispassionately because the goal is to inform.

    Fiction for the printed word, on the other hand, is emotion-based and character-centric. The goal is to entertain, paragraph to paragraph.

    Formal writing is, in general, determinate. The events being reported are immutable. But fiction is filled with uncertainty, which makes a reader wonder and worry. In fact, a reader, who stops and says, "Oh my god...what do we do now?" is a happy reader.

    So the answer is no. We can't use the techniques of formal writing. And it's a bitch to change over because all our trained writing reflexes will howl in outrage when we abandon facts for emotion. But it does come, and become as automatic as the nonfiction techniques. And like every other field. The more you know the greater the options.
     
  8. The95Writer
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    The95Writer Active Member

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    If I find myself writing fiction academically, then I might just keep going and alter it in the editing process. What you think?
     
  9. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    The whole issue with fiction isn't 'what' you write but 'how' you write it. So unless you want to be left with one massive story synopsis by the end of first draft, which will basically need a complete re-write, I'd say it's important to adjust your writing to suit your fiction in the first draft as well.
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, you can use formal writing techniques in fiction. Go take a quick look at House of Leaves if you want an example of a successful first novel that does so.
     

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