1. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    Returning to fiction

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Daniel, Jul 22, 2014.

    I used to write a lot of short stories and even had a few unfinished novels when I was in middle school and high school. Then I went to college and stopped writing fiction. I still wrote song lyrics, essays, blog posts, and freelance articles - generally more formal, argumentative, non-fiction, and topic-based material.

    It's been a long time since I've written fiction, but now that I've graduated, I'd like to pursue it again. I have a few ideas for novels I'd like to pursue, but frankly, it's a little intimidating after not writing fiction in so long. I'm basically a new writer as far as writing fiction goes (especially since I was so young when I wrote fiction). Though I've written a lot over the past few years, writing non-fiction, essays, and freelance articles is nothing like writing fiction.

    How do I get back to writing fiction? Should I treat myself as a new writer and "try to learn how to write", or should I just dive in? I was thinking of participating in our contests and writing prompts to get the feel for fiction. I also might read more fiction and evaluate the author's style and techniques. What would you do? How should I approach this?
     
  2. Domino355
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    Domino355 Contributing Member

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    I think you should just dive in. The way I see it, to learn how to write fiction you need to write fiction. As you write you will get better at it
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Reading and studying are always good things to do.

    In my early 40s, I started doing a tremendous amount of non-fiction writing - almost entirely advocacy pieces. Making the shift to writing fiction was difficult. I was in B&N one summer Sunday and saw a display entitled "Summer Reading". It was a collection of books typically assigned by schools for students' reading lists. I was intrigued by the number of titles that had been assigned reading for me, 25 years before, and I had an idea - go back and re-read titles I'd been assigned to read in school and either hadn't read (Cliff Notes) or had read and hadn't liked. It was a great experience, and while I didn't connect it with writing at the time, I think it actually helped me make the transition from non-fiction to fiction because it wasn't long after I started that I began banging out the first chapters of what would be my first attempt at a novel.

    @Daniel, you know from these forums that the biggest obstruction to a novice writer is often the writer's own doubt. My advice would be to read to charge your batteries and start writing - small and simple at first, like a short story or a character sketch, and then moving on from there.

    Best of luck!
     
  4. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I dived in. Then after some time, when I told immediately pressing stories and was facing a big novel I wanted to write, I went back to the drawing board and spend some time reading how-to books and educating myself anew about how to write fiction. During this time, I read loads, and I outlined. After some time I started to write my novel again, and I never stopped since. I feel much better equipped to tackle the long narrative on my terms now, before I studied it, I was sort of stabbing in the dark a little.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2014
  5. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I would probably treat myself as a new writer and reacquaint myself with fiction writing techniques. Come to think of it, I pretty much see myself like that every day even though T and I write our WIP almost every day, so maybe my advice is not all that sound. :D

    But in addition to that, I'd also dive in. Read up on techniques and try them out in my own writing. Get some feedback, participate in a contest...

    What I do find challenging is working on a novel length work and writing shorts on the side. Tried it with the Annual Sci-fi Contest last year, and it was a big distraction. Maybe other people can do it, but I can't. I hardly have the focus to participate in prompts when I'm super-immersed in the novel ms.
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Daniel,
    I'd pick up a couple of good novels and read them. Maybe one or two that you read and enjoyed in the past, and one or two new ones. Get the storytelling mode going in your mind.

    While you're reading, start planning and writing that novel or short story, realizing that what you're writing is a first draft. You may be a bit rusty, or tend more toward the structured of nonfiction, but that's okay. It's a first draft. You'll pick up speed and quality. By the time you finish the first draft your writing will have grown and transformed. Will it be perfect and absolutely awesome? Ummm, maybe not...not yet. That's what 2nd and 3rd drafts/revision and editing is for.

    And while you're writing, you'll be reading and what you might be struggling with--dialogue, pacing, POV, characterization and description--will be right there in front of your eyes and echoing in your mind, such that you can learn and apply that to your writing project and writing style.

    That's my two cents.
    Good luck as you move forward!
     
    EdFromNY likes this.
  7. criticalsexualmass
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    criticalsexualmass Active Member

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    The only way to do it in my mind is to put your butt in the seat, put your little fingers on those nipple-like thingies we call keys, and get to it!
     
  8. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    @Daniel
    You've already written fiction and spent time learning how to write non-fiction. The latter is tranferable to an extent from critically thinking about the words you use and the structure of sentences and paragraphs. You know your words, you know your grammar; that alone is more than many novice writers have.

    Just start writing, honestly, and finish a little quick ditty. If you feel rusty, pick up an instruction book and see what you did that it says to do and what you didn't. Then figure out how much of it is subjective or objective and try to figure things out from there piece by piece. A fiction writer generally has an odd background where he learned either strong communication or writing in a different style just like you always hear about your favorite rock stars who have bleedin' Ph.Ds in biology or something but spend their days playing around with a guitar on stage >.>

    And you got the most valuable resource at your disposal too!
    Us, WF.org, you own it :p
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Dive in, then see what the stuff you write needs. How do you know what parts of writing fiction you are deficient in unless you put some words on the screen/page?
     
  10. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Use your writing work shop. Whatever you do, don't write in vacuum. That means don't just write blindly and wait till you're 100k words in to find out exactly how bad your writing sucks. Write the novel , but work on shorts , critique, try to apply how to advice that seems sound. Keep getting people to read you crap until you get sincere praise(not vanilla praise)
     
  11. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Jump in with both feet and just go for it. I stopped doing fiction after college and just picked it back up this January and decided to finally write the freaking novel in my head (at least a six year break - and never finished anything long-form). I got myself motivated by joining a writing critique group and using that as motivation to crank out 4 pages per week to read to them (I later find out that they think I'm either nuts or gutsy for always presenting stuff that I wrote the night before - oh well).

    Overall I would say that's been a great experience and kept me going, and would highly recommend it. Only disclaimer is that I've now encountered a bunch of advice about "don't join a writing group until after you've finished the story, unless you do it just for motivation, because you don't want the story hijacked before it's finished". And, conversely, you can find a bunch of really frustrated posts by me here on when to trust or not trust your critique group - so six months into this thing, I'm now devoting a lot of research to elements of craft and specifically on strategies for how to take criticism without selling out or driving yourself crazy. So, get a solid grounding for what a group will or won't give you going in, but for motivation (and tightening your writing style), I would definitely say join one.
     

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