I learned something new today, something that all you fiction writers probably already know, but I’m a non-fiction writer and I’ve always been mystified by the ability to write fiction.
How do they do that? I have talked to fiction writers and asked them how they do it and where do they get their ideas. One author told me that her fantasy series came to her in a dream. If I actually remember a dream, which is rare, it’s usually about my ex-husband telling me about his new car purchase or something equally exciting.
Another author told me the stories just “come” to him. Well, isn’t that nice?
A couple of other writers have told me that the characters for a book start talking to them and giving them the story.
Me? I’m lucky to make up a story for my grandkids about a little boy who likes to look for rocks.
For the longest time I thought maybe I had no imagination. Maybe I lacked a muse. Perhaps the fiction gene bypassed me when I was genetically composed.
So this term in my pursuit of an MFA, I took a class called Fiction Craft Foundations. I was hoping for some insight into this fiction writing thing. I was hoping that if I got some insight I could put it into action because I would love to be able to write fiction and expand my writing ability horizon.
This was my second week and I am already getting was I was hoping for from this amazing class.
Our journal assignment was four steps long.
1. Make a list of significant events in your life.
Well that was easy; now what?
2. Meditate about this list and think about which event has the best fictional implications then free write for 15 minutes.
Okay, this took some time. I really had no idea which event would be good as fiction and as I pondered this, an event that I hadn’t even listed popped into my head and I started writing.
Well that was cool!
3. Take 15 minutes to revise the free writing into some semblance of order.
Mine actually didn’t take much for revision because I don’t really think I’m that good at free writing. I have a hard time letting go and just writing and can’t stop thinking hard about what I’m doing.
4. Focus on the emotion of the scene and think of a parallel situation that is different than what happened to you and re-craft the scene as fiction.
What? I had never heard of such an amazing thing. How have I not heard of this before or thought of it myself?
I took my scene and as I was writing it as fiction more ideas just started coming out of my brain and into my fingers and onto the page. It was an incredible experience as Hawaii turned into Japan and the beach turned into the suicide forest. And it was FUN!
I now realize that writing non-fiction was my comfort zone and that I had been clinging to it. I took this class with the hope of learning more about fiction not realizing that it would take me out of my comfort zone. It was very hard to think of a life situation that could be turned into fiction but once I did, the words just flowed out of me.
This feels life-changing to me. I’m excited and terrified all at the same time. I’m also overwhelmed with all the possibilities as I add this new technique to my writing tool belt.
And on an end note, I’m still in complete awe of fiction writers!