Writing Fiction is Easy and Very Difficult
Putting pen to paper and describing the scene in our head is easy. Stringing dialogue based on the way we speak is not challenging. However, forming everything together into a cohesive, compelling novel that publishers will consider publishing is quite a different matter, indeed.
Countless people aspire to write fiction and dream of accolades and glory. Friends and family read their offerings and praise their efforts. They start building houses in their head and plan the outfits they will wear to book signings.
Confident in their mastery, they send their masterpiece to someone knowledgeable about writing and hear that their manuscript is filled with mistakes and inconsistencies. They either become angry, crushed or ambivalent about the advice.
Why does this happen? Because writing fiction is easy and very difficult at the same time and the sooner we realize this, the better. Anyone can tell a story but doing so at the highest level takes an incredible amount of work.
Those of us who are writing their first novel should come to this realization at some point. We need to study the craft and be brutally honest with what we are trying to do. Becoming a relentless editor, we see behind the words to the patterns that are developing in our plot. We begin to see our characters as the reader will and our level of honesty will allow us to see the reality or remain behind the shield of rationalization and denial.
If we will do the work, develop the correct mindset to produce quality material, we will soon realize that writing publishable fiction is gut-wrenching. It is like tearing ourselves apart as we work through thousands of decisions. The more we study writing, the more ignorant we feel. Instead, we keep working and learning, so we can grow.
Eventually, we see past the simple story to voice, tense, chapter transitions, grammar, themes, foreshadowing, minor and major characters, linear details, and hundreds of other crucial components.
What once was just a casual hobby becomes a life-changing event where we have truly given birth to something magical. Cheap, pulp fiction is ubiquitous in the book world. Yet, if we aspire to produce something that will last, we will turn ourselves inside out, if necessary, to elevate our writing to the highest rung we can attain.
If we will strive for that level of quality, we will realize that we are 10,000 miles from where we began with a pen, paper and a sliver of plot. Creating a world is exhausting but when we can behold its evolution, it will all be worth it in the end.
When our story consumes us, our characters become real and our mind can’t stop working on the plot, we have been reborn and we are ready to produce something special. Now the real work begins.