Writing Fiction: 4 Things You Need to Prepare For

Well this has been a few interesting weeks in my writing fiction life and many lessons have been learned. Before I get into the things I was unprepared for, I must make a confession: I just started writing my story. That’s right! I had no idea where I was going with it … well, not beyond a concept anyway. I didn’t lay everything out and honestly I know nothing about style!  (The writing kind of style is what I’m talking about here so lay off my leggings and flannel shirt!)

Now that I have that out of the way, here’s what I’ve discovered I should have been prepared for:

There will be days you feel unqualified to write fiction.

I’m going through a little phase of I have no idea what I’m doing! I have scenes popping into my mind – usually when I’m not near my laptop to take dictation. And, the structure of the story keeps changing. For example, now my characters are playing with their order of appearance in the story. It’s interesting to watch but it gives me a twinge of impostor syndrome. I mean, don’t real writers know how their story is going to go before they start writing?

So, for the most part I’ve taken a little pause in the writing process to think things through a little more again. I’ve even purchased this book to help me structure the story line. The planning I did from this post has proven to be a pretty good start and still more thought is required now. I feel as if I’m too deep into it to stop and go back to school now so tally-ho and here we go!

At some point you will be doing research.

Maybe I was naïve going into this. Okay, I was definitely naïve going into this. Somehow I imagined that I could so loosely describe things that they could take place anywhere. W-R-O-N-G! I’ve discovered that it’s really hard to describe an event or place in enough detail to satisfy no only the reader but myself without choosing a real setting. And I suppose it’s probably a little insulting to the reader to say an event is taking place somewhere that has no connection to what the event might be about. I mean, what if my reader is actually FROM a place just like I’ve made up no such institute there?!

So, now it’s research time! I tried to convince my husband to come on a research trip to Hawaii with me but I couldn’t sell it. Darn Google gives me all the information I really need! I remember the smells and sounds of Honolulu from my many visits there when I worked for an airline, so I think I can describe that well enough without taking a week off work – sadly. I wonder if he’d be up for a trip to Minnesota! hahahah

Speaking of research … If you know of anyone who writes music for movies, I’d love to have a brief chat with them!

Your characters will run amok with the story and your life!

My characters have so far created scenes I had no intention of writing, and they’ve flipped the order of the story on its head a number of times. One particularly crafty character even changed a detail that I had previously woven into a number of spots. As a result I had to back up and change it just to be sure I didn’t mess up the congruity.

Another character has given me a wild case of heartburn in the middle of the night that would only go away when I got out of bed to write for her. I wrote by hand, in the dark just to get it out! I didn’t want to turn on lights nor disrupt even more of my sleep with the glow from the screen, so I pulled out my notebook and started writing. My only light was from the street below … well, that and one moment of opening the fridge to see where I left off after looking up from the page briefly. I’m not even sure now if that character is staying in the story! If she does go missing, it’s probably payback for interrupting my sleep!

Are you asking why the heck am I still writing this darn story? I’d understand if you were … I ask myself that same question. The answer is always …

The process of writing fiction is magical!

If you are writing simply for the joy of writing and not for the sake of production, the process is like a love affair. This isn’t any dysfunctional affair either; this is the real deal! When my characters and story line are flip-flopping on me it doesn’t feel like torture; it leaves me curious. My characters have become playmates in the corners of my mind. When I’m at work, they’re somewhere in the background weaving the next scene for me. When my mind is relaxing over coffee and a crochet project on a Saturday morning, they come to me and demand to be written.

And when I sit to write? Well, sometimes they go into hiding. Usually my characters show up like old friends just wanting their story to be told. Whether I’m researching, coming up with scenes to write or actually writing, my story is right there with me patiently yet persistently guiding me.

Writing can be uncomfortable … in a strangely comforting way.

Yes this is stretching me. Yes the process is making me feel incredibly daft at times. So far it hasn’t driven me to drink! And so far, I’m grateful for and invigorated by it all.

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