No More Rules! – The Magic of Writing Fiction

What should I blog about? That’s the question facing anyone deciding to blog, and advice abounds. One blog on the subject listed an array of topics, which included writing. Blog about writing. What a great idea, I thought. I could use my own learning as a fiction writer, and why not start with Elmore Leonard’s rules?

Well, that generated some interest, but it really was about as exciting as reading an auto repair manual. Few people want to know about how to overhaul an engine – they just want one that works. So, I’m going o give up on ‘the rules ‘ and just talk about writing.

In my career with government, writing was always a big part of my job – everything from family and social histories in my social work days, program proposals, policy, legislation, a variety of reports, and on and on. So, you’d think that the change to writing fiction or creative non-fiction would be easy. It wasn’t. In fact, I had a lot of unlearning to do – and I’m still working on it. Old habits sometimes die hard.

When I decided to write a novel, I just sat down and wrote. To use another cliche , ignorance is bliss – and it was. I really enjoyed just writing – having the freedom to write what I wanted to write. It was a liberating process. I never really planned my novel. It came together from three or four totally unrelated ideas. It was mostly about creating characters, putting them in situations, and seeing how they respond. It really is an amazing process. Try it. Even if you don’t have a novel or a short story, in mind, think of a character, put them in a situation where something happens (the inciting incident) and go with it. Keep it simple. For example:

George is a thirty year old with a B.A. in English, but with the job market being what it is, he’s had a variety of jobs and he struggles to make ends meet. He has a girl friend and they’d like to marry but its not financially feasible. Then, George wins a ten million dollar lotto. Go with it. I’d love to hear what happens to George in your story!

 

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