This amazing sculpture is called “Breaking Free!” It expresses completely how I feel about writing fiction again! How I feel about being able to write one novel after another–as I yearned to do when I started writing novels (learning how) more than 20 years ago. I wrote one novel after another–none of them good enough to publish.
But writers have to LEARN how to write, just as doctors have to learn how to be doctors. You wouldn’t just decide you wanted to be a brain surgeon and hang up a shingle and ask, “Who wants to be first?” Yet, thousands of aspiring writers do exactly that. They decide that being a professional writer would be fun, sit down at the computer, type something, print it, then mail it to a dozen editors, essentially asking, “Who wants to be first?”
Writing has to be learned, just as any other profession has to be learned. It takes YEARS of study, trial and error, and getting thousands of words on paper to master the skills required to be a master writer.
Does it take years to be published? No. But a bestselling author once wrote that a MASTER writer controls the emotions of the reader. If the writer wants the reader to laugh, the reader laughs. Or the reader cries, or runs screaming from the room, as in the case of MASTER writer, Stephen King. And, that same bestselling author wrote that in order to become a MASTER writer, it’s necessary to get a MILLION WORDS on paper.
When my first novel, GABRIEL’S HEART, was published in 1998, I added up the words from all the practice novels I’d written, then estimated the word count for the stories and articles I’d written to date. I had just passed a million words. I had learned how to write well.
I still don’t consider myself a MASTER writer, but I’ve learned how to include deep emotion in my stories, and even though romance editors often say that my stories have “too much plot,” my readers seem to like having a strong plot along with characters who seem like real people. My characters seem like real people to ME. And, I love books with plots that carry me along, wondering what’s going to happen on the next page or at the end.
Romances always have happy endings. But how two people overcome the differences between them isn’t automatically known to the reader at the beginning of the story. And that’s the plot. My goal, when I plot a story, is to keep the reader guessing until the end.
Writing nonfiction means hours and days and weeks of intensive research, quotations, end notes, glossary words, timelines, lists of books, websites, and other sources of information to “Read More About It,” bios, fast facts, and an extensive bibliography of sources.
Fiction also requires research, but with a different purpose. The research I do for fiction is done in order to help the reader believe that the characters are real people, living in a real place. Research inserted into a story creates a picture in the reader’s mind that’s just enough to keep the reader grounded in the story’s setting, but that leaves enough to the imagination for the reader to fill in the blanks.
You may see some crossover among our non-fiction book topics and my novels–research that finds its way from a purely factual presentation to the setting or plot of a love story.
By writing fiction again, I’m BREAKING FREE!! I hope you’ll come with me on the journey.