Can you make the switch from writing nonfiction, to writing fiction? In fiction, you’re making stuff up. This is a no-no in nonfiction, so you need to train your brain to run along a different track. It’s an adjustment, sure, but it’s EASY.
Please take this to heart. You’re a writer. You can write anything you choose, because you’re comfortable with words. As with anything new, there’s a slight period of adjustment. However, since fiction is constructed, you’ll find that your skills are easily transferable. You’ll get set to entertain, rather than persuade, or inform.
Let’s look at some fiction tips which will help you to make the switch.
1. Let Your Imagination Out to Play.
Everyone has an imagination. Sadly at around seven years of age, we’re taught (unless we’re really lucky), to rein in our imagination. But we’ve all still got imagination; if you doubt yourself, consider dreams and nightmares. You’re creative, you just need to let your imagination out to play.
Although the right brain/ left brain theory has been debunked, your “creative” right brain seems to think in images. You can use this tendency. Start paying attention to images. As I said in this article on outlining:
Start With an Image.
I like to start my fiction with an image, rather than a bunch of words.
Pay attention to the images which pop into your head, and also, images as you go through your day. Look at photos, and images from Pinterest and art galleries. Think about what an image makes you feel, and why. Fiction is all about emotion.
2. Use What You Know: Your Skills Are Transferable.
If you write nonfiction, you’ve trained your brain to write. But, just like other forms of training, you can get out of practice. I write all the time, but in the years before it became a habit, I noticed something strange. Missing a couple of days of writing made writing harder. The more you write, the more you can write.
Expect that training yourself to write fiction will take a little time until fiction becomes comfortable. Know this: your fiction writing will IMPROVE all your writing. I don’t expect you to take this on trust, but you will be amazed to find that your nonfiction improves when you write fiction.
3. Have Fun: Practice Creating Plots and Characters.
Do you like to people watch? The next time you’re in a restaurant or bar, amuse yourself by making up stories about the people you see. You can tell a lot about someone from their body language.
Deliberately search out locations. (You’ve got to set your fiction somewhere.) Bestselling authors are bestsellers because they match their stories, and characters, with locations. One of the best uses of location I’ve read is in John Sandford’s Bad Blood. In the opening scenes, a man’s bludgeoned to death in a grain silo. It’s creepy, and that scene’s stayed with me. Remember, you’re an entertainer when you write fiction. Make readers feel.
4. READ What You Think You’d Like to Write.
Dean Koontz once said that the primary pastime of a writer is reading. He’s right.
Read, and think about what you’re reading. You’re looking for genres you know you could write.
5. Outline What You Read So You Learn How Stories Are Constructed.
Fiction is constructed. Scenes are your building blocks.
When you’ve read a short story, novella, or novel, go back and read it again. Make notes. List the scenes in a chapter. Each scene is like a little story in itself. When you do enough reading, and scene outlining, you’ll see how stories are crafted, and you’ll be well on the way to writing excellent fiction.
Making the switch from nonfiction to fiction is easy for most writers. The best advice I can give you is read the kind of fiction you enjoy reading, and practice writing it yourself. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be with it.
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