By Rachael Teelander
Being a writer in the world of fiction takes a lot more than one would normally think. Not only does it involve a lot of writing, but it also involves many different types of writing. Fiction writing encompasses many different genres, such as novels, short stories, screenplays, etc. Though this is not a chosen career for many, due to the fact that most would consider it hard to make writing one’s sole job, but those that dedicate themselves enough to it may find success.
One step many fiction writers take is research. Depending on the subject or genre they are writing, there are many things that writers need to learn about in order to be convincing in their work. For example, if an author is writing a novel in which the main character is a doctor, that author would have to do some research on medical terminology and other related things so that their doctor character would be believable. This goes for more basic things as well, such as setting or time period that the piece is written in. If the author is writing a screenplay that takes place in a country they have no experience in, they will have to do research on the culture of that place so that they can give an accurate representation. As fiction author J.F.Penn said, “Pretty much 95% of what’s in my books is based on true locations, true historical objects, real research.” This is true for many authors.
Another thing many fiction writers start with is planning or outlining. When writing a longer work such as a novel or a screenplay, it can be very hard to just write it without having a plan in mind. Doing this may cause the pacing to be off, or cause the writer to get stuck and not know how to move forward with their piece. Planning out the sequence of events that leads to the climax, and then what will happen afterwards can help writers stay away from writer’s block. However, the writing process is different for every writer, and many have issues with planning their works out beforehand. New York Book Editors say making an outline for a novel can even make it harder for one to write. For some, having an outline makes the writing of the novel more like translating one medium into another, rather than just creating, and when a writer just starts their work without a precise plan in mind, it can give them more chances to uncover things as they write (NY Book Editors).
Next to actually writing a draft, revision is one of the most important parts of writing fiction. “Perfect first drafts don’t exist.” (MJ Hyland) For most writers, editing is the most time consuming and difficult part of the writing process. Many writers run into the problem of feeling inadequate or that their work is not very good when they reach the editing process, because they feel as if it should “sound like writing.” However, according to MJ Hyland, when he stopped trying to sound “like a writer,” his writing greatly improved, and it became a much more enjoyable experience. For many, the revision process isn’t a single step, but one that requires many attempts. It’s necessary to make sure each writers work is the best it can be.
Another large aspect of writing fiction, or any type of writing, is publishing. Now, many writers do this for fun and do not wish to publish, however, if one is doing this as a career, publishing is a must. Back in the day, there were not many options for writers when they came to the publishing stage of their work. There are basically two options: send the manuscript to a traditional publisher (which usually requires a literary agent), or self-publish. Both are completely valid and reasonable options, and each option has its pros and cons. When publishing with a traditional publisher, one can expect a few things. Some publishers require the writer to have an agent and are very choosy about what they publish. Secondly, it may take some time. With traditional publishing, books are usually published in either the spring or the fall. And lastly, they will do all of the editing, production, design and printing. The other option, self-publishing, has a lot more freedom for the writer. This option gives the author the option of when, how, and where to publish. There are also many places for authors to publish, such as createspace, lulu, or many more. Authors can choose to use ebooks, print on demand, or both. This option also allows the author to create their own cover for the book, or hire someone to do it for them if they’d like. However, with this method, it can be harder to ensure that the author will make a lot of money from their book.
In all, there are many things that one must, or at least should, do when writing fiction. There are many steps involved that most don’t consider. Writing in the genre of fiction requires lots of research in order to be convincing, it can involve planning, or not, depending on what works best for the writer, and it always involves lots of revision. Writing fiction, while fun for many, is a lot more work than initially thought. It’s easy to undermine fiction writing because most don’t know it requires more work than just the writing itself, but it can be just as legitimate and rewarding as any other type of writing in other fields.
Edited by Emily Chance