As many of you know, I began an in person fiction writing class recently. I love being back in a classroom, doing homework, sharing my work in progress, and critiquing the work of others. This is totally working for me on all levels.

I’ve taken classes before, to varying degrees of success, and I used to have a writer’s group but COVID kind of put the brakes on that, but I feel I need the urgency of deadlines and people watching over me. Writing is very solitary, and even though I tend to be a loner, writing is the one time I really feel the need to be surrounded by other like minded souls. I need to get out of my head and show my work.

But this isn’t really supposed to be about my class: this is supposed to be what I finally learned, not from class, but just one of life’s lessons that I finally understood.

For the past five years I worked on a book, that was vaguely about an incident in my life that I wish had played out differently- basically I wanted to write about the incident but control all the players so I got a desired ending. I finished the novel. The actual novel was a piece of crap. I mean, really really bad. However, by writing the book I cleared up my headspace. I got something out on paper, and now I am free to actually write fiction.

I had lunch with a friend recently and when I told her I tossed the book, she was all- but did anyone read it, how do you know it was bad, and I just smiled and said that I didn’t need anyone to read it or tell me if it were good or not- it was something that I needed to do in a cathartic way in order to forge ahead to a new place.

But anyway…

I have an idea for a new novel, and I’m five chapters in. I have an outline and settings and ideas for scenes, and I feel really good about this. But do you know what the best feeling is? My characters are entirely fictional. Sure, I might put in a quirk or trait from someone I know, but their story, their actions, their words: all made up. Do you know hoe freeing it is to write characters that I can just let fly off the page? To not see myself on the page of the novel?

First off- it’s so easy to share my work now, because when someone critiques it, I don’t feel like they are critiquing me personally- they’re critiquing a story that I MADE UP- so it’s all about the craft. And I can see that my writing is strong- my voice is strong. I’m not saying this book will ever be published, but I am proud of what I am putting on the page.

So there you go. Who knew that when you write fiction you should actually focus on fiction?

43 thoughts on “Anything Can Happen Friday: Writing Fiction

  1. I understand the clearing head part. In actual fact, I just dumped most of what I’ve written in the past simply because it no longer serves me. But writing about it cleared my head. 🤷‍♀️

    That’s fantastic how you’re taking this class! Keep writing! I’ve been thinking about doing the same thing and will look at my community catalogue for night classes for the upcoming winter semester. So thanks for the inspiration and the reminder. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the sound of all of this, LA. You’re so right about writing sometimes being cathartic. And it’s always a learning experience. But it sounds like you’re in a great “space” right now, what a good feeling. You go, girl!

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    1. Thank you!! I almost want to tell all the people in my class, who are writing thinly veiled memoirs disguised as fiction, to just write it and put it aside. Look how long it took Steven Spielberg to put his story out there!?!

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  3. Isn’t there a saying about “write what you know”? So I hear you saying that’s not the best advice unless you really want to relive your life as therapy? That makes sense to me!

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    1. Parallel to the class, I’m reading a book on novel writing, by Graeme Simsion, an author I enjoy. He says something that makes sense…1) sometimes what happens in real life doesn’t make sense in a book and 2) write what you know can be locations, hobbies, favorites, etc. it doesn’t have to be “you” as a character. But however you look at it, your voice will carry through to. Certain extent

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  4. What a great lesson! I know some authors use aspects of their personalities, taken to extreme, to create characters, but very cool to invent entirely new people. And good for you realizing that your first work was catharsis, not for public perusal.

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  5. I’m sitting at home recovering from surgery earlier this week, and I’m reading this blogpost.. First of all, congratulations! I’m so happy for you. First that you were actually able to finished your trial novel and that you could evaluate it and realize it was a learning experience and that perhaps it wasn’t up to the quality of writing you now demand. That takes courage to admit. I think it’s something all writers go through. I remember being so passionate about my first novel. I was sure it was superb.. yes, There were narrative and descriptive sections that were good. But there were also a great many things that glaringly screamed “inexperience”.
    So you’ve been set free and now you are ready to run with it!! Bravo!

    In regards to putting yourself into characters. What I learned is that I don’t always have to be the protagonist. I was never in all of my characters.But I definitely was the protagonist in most of my early stories. But the rest of my characters I imagined and created as beings un to themselves. They existed outside of me. And that’s what you are feeling. You are creating three dimensional human beings. That’s wonderful! I used to do exercises with my students on creating characters. Not just their physicality but their inner hopes and dreams, their “tragic flaws”, their educational background, childhood experiences etc. pretty much you are creating an entity totally out of nothing and giving them life. And that has to be done for every single major character in your story. It’s exciting to do. If you conjure up a believable characters your story lives and becomes believable . I still put myself in a character now and then. But knowing you don’t have to be the heroine all the time is a huge accomplishment. But… there’s nothing wrong with putting a bit of yourself into a character. You’ll figure it out on your journey. LA I’m so happy for your new writing adventures. Be free and run with it! Enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You can’t help but put pieces of yourself. My main character drinks tea. Her relationship with her bestie is a combo of my daughter and her bestie and me and mine. My character loves a tree grows in Brooklyn and the botanic garden, but I’ve given myself the room to create a character. It’s freeing

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  6. Shirley Jackson said the first book every writer writes is about their mother. I don’t know the exact quote, but she said you throw that away and move on to write better books. I’m so thrilled you’re enjoying your writing class.

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  7. Love this! ❤ This is why I write fiction, it is so freeing to have characters come to life on paper and use your imagination. If you decide you don't like them, welll … they go to be with Igor the bull. LOL!
    Good Luck on your novel!

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  8. That was a very interesting perspective LA and congratulations! It’s an accomplishment to have even finished a book even if you don’t ever show it to anyone. My local library asked if anyone wanted to start a writer’s club and I’m contemplating it if they get enough people interested.. I have one friend who will go too, but it would be a really big step for me to let someone else read my stuff. Other than here on the blog of course, that is just fun writing that doesn’t matter. It’s good you are enjoying the process.

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  9. Congratulations! And yes. That’s a thing, actually. Many people write fiction, but it’s really nonfiction with names changed lol I’m glad you got this lesson early, so you can actually write a fictional piece now.

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  10. I spent the better part of a year working on a novel I ended up throwing away because I knew it was bad. The interesting thing is, that one was extremely autobiographical – basically me, but with a different name. Ever since, I too have focused on fiction that is truly fictional.

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  11. Hurrah LA! That sounds both a fantastic experience and a brilliant lesson.

    I really enjoyed the creative writing class I took a way back and learned so much. I planned to sign up again, but you know what happened. Having moved area, I’m back to checking out more local writing resources which are affordable. That said, I’m not putting as much effort into my fiction at the moment due to marketing the coaching business, but I am dying to get back to it.

    Bravo you – onwards to that book 🙂

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