Hosted by: Cynthia Swanson & Andrew Swanson

Why Fiction Writing is Not Easy

Today was a good day. I lifted the spirits of a couple of people I know.  I spent the afternoon writing, and will continue this evening.  Some of my best writing comes to me in the late hours. (It’s really a pain when you have to get up early the next morning, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay to see a story of my own creation unfold on my computer screen.)

A lot of people think writing fiction is easy.  After all, we’re just making stuff up.  What’s so hard about that?

It’s not as easy as that.  In order for a fiction story to hold together, it has to balance between fiction and reality.  Swing too far one way, and you have a farce that people dismiss.  Match the conversations too closely to how we really talk, or describe real life too closely, and you risk boring them to death with what amounts to a network news report.

Fiction is about creating something that’s not real, but that feels like it could be.  Good fiction transports you, allowing you to live vicariously through the characters, experiencing things you might never experience otherwise (and that you might not want to in real life).  Good fiction — like good movies — makes you care, laugh, hurt, gasp, cry and feel every emotion in between.

My goal is to write fiction that grabs you from the beginning, then takes you on a rollercoaster ride of experiences and emotions, until you’re left breathless at the end thinking, “That was such a great ride, but what happens next?”

That’s what I like to read, and that’s how I want my writing to be perceived.

How is it going so far?  So far, I’m doing okay.  But I’m not done yet. 🙂

This is the first of a series of posts about my thoughts about writing and the writing process.  It may not be for everyone, but I welcome any comments or questions.

Am I an expert? Some would say because I haven’t published a novel yet, I’m no expert.  However, I’ve been doing this for a number of years, and I would like to think my writing speaks to the level of my expertise.  At my day job I’m considered the expert of many things, but really it’s a matter of knowing more than the next person, or having the capacity to question, learn, and apply new knowledge in different ways.

In any case, as with anything people tell you, you should accept what resonates to you, and put the rest aside.  And there’s always the option on not reading this.

Categories: Inspiration, Writing

6 replies

  1. Great post about fiction. Certainly a difficult task. But we endure the pain because we love it!


  2. I’ve been working on a novel since 2003. 😐 I talk and write all the time, so I thought it would be easy to write a novel. Ha.

    What’s worse is I chose historical fiction. So that required me to do a lot of research on the era (Victorian America) to get a sense of how people lived, talked, thought, etc. I might actually finish it one day, but it’s a huge thing to tackle.

    • I’m always impressed with people who undertake historical fiction. There is so much research to do to get it right. Kudos to you for keeping at it! You’ll get there when you’re ready.

      Me, I don’t like research. Or rather, research quickly becomes another excuse not to write. Especially the science stuff that will appear in my novel. Luckily, I married a man who loves research and is quite good at doing it quickly. I am a lucky girl. 🙂

      • There is a ton of research involved. If you don’t do it, your reader is going to know it and not continue reading. Luckily research is one of my favorite things to do.

        I’ve read some bad so-called historical fiction, and I think that’s why I chose it for my book. Some writers make the characters and situations too modern, which really aggravates me.

  3. Cynthia,
    I really enjoyed reading your post. Fiction is not easy. To all those people who think so I want to say, “You try it then you’ll see how difficult it really is.” I hope you get published. Oh, and I like your “Am I an expert?” at the end of your post. I totally agree with it!

    • Thanks for reading my post, Haley. Years ago, a writer friend who got their first contract told me I wasn’t an expert until I became a published author, but I never agreed with that. We all have valued viewpoints. It’s a matter for other to discern what is of value to them.

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