ON WRITING FICTION

 This blog is about writing fiction. It`s about the experience of becoming a fiction writer, and about the technical aspects of the craft.  The purpose is to share my experiences and challenges on my own journey, and to hear and learn from others.

If you’re a fiction writer, the themes that I’ll raise will probably be familiar. If you’re not, you may find some amusement in reading about those of us who spend untold hours slaving over manuscripts, re-writing and polishing, with a slim hope of ever being  published through the traditional publishing route. Whatever your interest in writing, I’d love to hear from you.

WHY DO I WRITE?

When I started writing, it was purely for fun. The thought of publishing never entered into it. (Marketing and publishing will be dealt with in future posts) I loved hunkering down over the computer, writing a scene, never quite knowing  what my characters would do. I later learned that that style of writing is òrganic`.

Hour after hour, day after day the story grew until I had a novel. That first draft was rough, but it was all there. I’d done it, I’d written a novel. It was a feeling of achievement, not unlike the way I felt when I completed my first 200 km cycle ride. The time wasn’t as important as the fact that I’d finished.  Of course, once the original goal is reached, a new one emerges. My new goal was to take a more critical look at my pride and joy – and to have others look it over. Having others read your work for the first time is intimidating, even if it is family and friends, but it’s the  necessary first step. You don’t learn anything by writing something and just throwing it in a drawer. Writing needs to be read.

My wife, daughter,son, sister, brother-in-law and  friends had a look at it and provided varying levels of critiquing – along with lots of encouragement. My daughter and sister gave the work close reads and offered specific written suggestions and edits. Talks with my son and my son-in-law were also very helpful.  I’m forever grateful to all of them. Their input provided valuable learning and certainly resulted in significant improvements in subsequent drafts.  A writer need not take all advice, but being open critical examination, of your work, and being open to suggestion are keys to improvement.. 

The Bloody Words Conference in Toronto in 2010 gave me the opportunity to have my work critiqued by a published author and was another valuable experience. More recently, I had a novel professionally edited, and a good editor, as mine was, helped take me to the next level.

From the feedback I received and from reading about writing I realized that fiction writing was a craft, and  that I had a lot to learn. My bubble of blissful ignorance was forever popped. My learning curve has been steep, and has included taking three writing courses, joining  a writer’s society critique group, doing a lot of reading about writing on my own, and more recently joining  on-line discussion groups. Of course, the main learning comes from writing itself.  The only way to incorporate the new knowledge that you gain is to writer regularly. As I learned more about the craft, I had lots of material to go back and improve.

FOR NEXT TIME:  How many drafts are enough – when is a work done

 John R. Paterson – Writer, Author

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