September 21, 2013

Wanna-be Fiction Writers- Sulo Moorthy

In recent months, an interest has sparked in my head to dip my toes into the unknown waters of fiction writing.  Unless a book is based on a true life story, it's hard for anyone to convince me to pick up a fiction and read till the end.

I was once an avid reader of fiction. Today, you wouldn't find a novel or any kind of fiction in my book collection. I've no clue how, when and what had caused the decline in my interest to read made up stories. .

Now that an interest has risen to venture into fiction writing, I did a little research on the topic and and learned some valuable tips that I'd like to share.

 The definition of fiction states that it is a made -up story told in prose with words alone. Because there is no storyteller to make gestures nor filmmaker to articulate lighting and camera for close-up scenes, the fiction writer has the challenge of interacting with the reader's imagination by his skill of words alone. That is the unique art and cleverness of written fiction.

Unlike non-fiction which is direct, fiction is indirect in its communication. It is the expression of the author's imagination. Some writers are so skilled in their craft that they could make even made up story to read like real.

Close observation of life is critical in good writing , said Hemmingway. The key is not only to watch the events, but also to take note of any emotion stirred within us. By doing so, Hemmingway thinks that we could trace back and identify precisely what had caused such emotion so that we could evoke similar emotion in our readers when they read our story.

By giving a title as quickly as possible and writing in the third person view could make the story flow easier.

" Never open a book with weather. If it's only to create atmosphere and not a character's reaction to the weather, you don't want to go on too long." writes Elmore Leonard. The reader is more interested in meeting the characters than warming up to the weather. Opening up with a dialogue or action would grab the reader's attention much faster.

In a dialogue, it's best to use the plain and simple verb,"said" than to modify it with an adverb like "cautioned"," complained," or "grumbled."
A dull rhythm in a dialogue reflects that the writer hadn't studied the characters well enough to write in their voices.

Exclamation points need to be kept under control; Use regional dialects sparingly as possible.

Readers seldom enjoy detailed description of characters. Keep it short and purpose driven.

Because bad writing is contagious, reading widely with discernment is recommended.

Writing is work. Fiction writing is like gambling. Autobiographical fiction requires pure invention.

Knowing about fiction writing wouldn't make me a fiction writer. Nobody is making me to write fiction either.  If I chose to do it, I must sit down and write down with no excuse or complain. Would I do it? That's still a big question!


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  2. Hi Sulo:
    I've received some useful tips from you in your previous blogs.
    Like you, I have traveled the same journey regarding fiction, and like you, I'm close to completing my first novel.
    I discovered that fiction writing requires more technical understanding than non-fiction, and I've sought help on those issues from several people.
    I've faced the same argument regarding "said" elsewhere, but my reaction is the opposite to yours.
    While I agree that "show, not tell" should be our guiding principle, and a question, for instance, does not require "asked" or "enquired." But these words are added for variety not explanation.
    It seems to me, that in heavy dialog, said, said, said must deaden what should be an animated form of writing.
    Just a thought, Sulo.
    Thanks for your input.

  3. Thanks Bryan for your helpful imput. I do agree that in a heavy dialogue, repeated "said" would become stale and deaden the dialogue. But, otherwise, it's something worth remembering.


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