Writing Fiction

The first dictum of writing fiction, any fiction, is getting the story down first.  the world of fiction writers is divided into two groups: the first love to outline a story from the introduction to the end; the second love to start with an idea and let it take them on an adventure.  The division is really about the writer’s personality.  I’ve read Stephen King tell us that he comes up with a what if scenario first, then writes down the various characters, and then creates a sort of outline for the narrative.  We can’t argue with that, it works for him.

But what of the second group, the writers who come up with a theme or general idea and let it flow without forcing the ending?  I would believe there is more creativity for this second method.  Why?  Because it is a journey that offers many possibilities for the writer to explore.  I believe it more true to life for most individuals for the simple reason that few of us are capable of planning our lives in such detail and with such purpose.  Yes, there are many people who do just that and chance is with them all the way.  And yet there are a great many more individuals whose planned life never lives up to the expectations that are expected.  So I must say that the second method, the “Shit Happens” is the better method.

Imagine then that you have spend all your time in school from kindergarten knowing exactly what you want to do with your life.  All the learning you do is geared to that end.  the friends you make, the possible partners you will consider for marriage, the possible employers for whom you will work.  Man, that takes a lot of planning, a lot of detail.  Sounds like the old War College dictum that with the first contact with the enemy your battle plans go out the window.  Life is really about exception handling.  That is, we are aware that the usual course of business policy is that nothing goes wrong.  When something does go wrong then we must have exception handling.  Few businesses are good at exception handling since the process is suppose to work all the time for everyone, except why it doesn’t and we need to figure out how to handle this exception.

In the same way, fiction is about exception handling.  One goes to work every day on time and puts in an honest eight hours work and then one day one is laid off or fired.  Exception, what do we do about this situation?  What possible complications can occur?  Ah, chance kicks into play and there is less certainty to life.  Call it playing god, if you like, but I would believe this is closed to real life.  You see, fiction wants to be as close to real life as it can without being boring.  Think about that for a minute.  How many of us lead lives of sheer boredom?  How we yearn for that variation in our lives, that break from the monotony of living that gives us a brief glimpse of being different.  How many of us get up at the same time every morning, go to work and at the end of the day come back home and have our meal and watch our television sets and then go to bed as if nothing extraordinary had happen?

This is why we get the story down first.  We want to tell of some event in life, some time when something happened and caused some outcome.  The story is raw, as all stories start.   Then we worry about the editing for mistakes such as misspellings and usage and syntax and so forth.  The creativity of writing is inventing the story, the craft is the perfection of that story through editing, rewriting, word changes, additions and subtractions, well it continues on.  One thing that the reader may have noticed is that my fiction is in raw form.  I hope to spend next summer going through the considerable number of stories and doing the rewriting, the refining if you will, so that there will be stories worthy of reading by the general public if they have such a desire.

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