CHALLENGES FOR WRITING FICTION

Man Typing on Laptop
The next scene is him throwing the laptop across the room.

I’ve spent lots of time this week trying to finish my new short story on the Deep Cove monster.  It will be the fourth installment behind Deep Cove, Deep Cove:  The Party Crasher, and The Deep Cove Lineage.  These sci-fi stories are written like a serial–a continuing story line.  It is almost finished and ready for others to proof.

As I’ve been working on this, and through the rollout of my new novel The Little Girl Waits, I’ve been pondering some of the greatest challenges for writing fiction.

1.  Deciding how much to leave out.  Fiction, because it exists entirely in the mind of the creator, can go as far as you want it to.  When I write about the woman being attacked by the monster, for instance, my mind sees the whole thing at once.  The problem is, the whole thing at once might bore the reader to tears.  I mean, seriously, does the reader really care what kind of shoes the old woman has on?  But at the same time I recognize these kinds of detail can give the story a rich, narrative depth.  It is always a struggle to know where to stop.

2.  Continuity in the story.  This is hard enough in a single novel, but it becomes increasingly difficult for me when the stories pile up, such as the Deep Cove series.  Many of the characters in The Little Girl Waits are from my first book or other short stories, and I had to really be careful that I didn’t change anything significant about their characters.  I almost did.  At one point I almost changed the gender and name of one of Butch Gregory’s kids.  Yikes.

3.  Continuity in the character.  I would like input from other writers on this one, because I find that maintaining a character’s voice is not the easiest thing in the world to do.  I’ve got a character, Colonel Crews, who in the Deep Cove Lineage has a certain demeanor and I am finding it hard to keep him ‘in character’ in the new story.  I don’t know why that is, because I wrote him the first time.  Why is it so hard to keep him in personality stasis?

4.  Fight scenes.  I love reading a good fight scene, and I think I understand the logistics of writing them and how they should work.  The problem I have is lack of experience in actual fighting.  The last fight I remember being in was in fourth grade.  A kid flicked my ear from the seat behind me on the bus and I lunged over the top of the seat, put him in a headlock, and pounded his nose with my left hand.  He never picked on me again.  However, not all fights can go like that.  I have to really work at writing these–even to the point of acting it out in the study to feel how the motion goes.  Oh I hope no one ever sees me fighting with myself through the window.  They will think I’m Edward Norton from Fight Club.

5.  Keeping the tension high.  Tension is the key to interest.  No one is interested if everyone is happy and the world is picture perfect.  Things have to go wrong and the threat of danger must be near.  I can do that fairly easily, but what I have a hard time is keeping it high.  As a human being, I want things to balance out cleanly before the next tension arises, but this linear mojo is not in keeping with life or good art.  It is far better when the tension swirls all over the place and never truly comes to resolution.  I find doing that to be a real challenge indeed.

There are many other challenges in writing fiction, but these are some that I’ve been mindful of on my most recent projects.  If you are a writer/artists, feel free to share what your major challenges are right now, or if you’re willing, share how you overcome some of these that I’ve mentioned.

 

 

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5 thoughts on “CHALLENGES FOR WRITING FICTION

  1. Relative to #3 I wonder if writing an extensive resume or bio or some such document that explains all that is important about the character. Or a list of his/her favorites: songs, books, movies, sports teams, etc. Of course you know that few if any of these background facts would come out in the the story, but they might give more of a 3 dimensional depth to him in your mind. You probably already do something like this.

    Just musing with you…

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    1. yes, that is helpful and it is vital to good writing. my problem is that the character’s personality can change too much in order to fit the plot i have if i am not careful. it is real work for me to do this.

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  2. … I had to really be careful that I didn’t change anything significant about their characters.

    Don’t we also often do this with the real people we know personally. A hard psychological tendency to shake.

    Nice post. Now tell me about the old woman’s shoes.

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    1. you’ll have to wait until my next ‘monster story’ comes out to find out about the shoes. i’m still editing it.

      as to the psychological tendencies, you are right on the money. the blessed thing about writing a story is i can make the characters do whatever i want. in the real world, that never happens.

      thanks virgil for reading and commenting.

      Like

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