Thursday, 30 October 2014

Falling For Fiction

Here in Manitoba we're into the grey and dreary days of late fall. Our colourful leaves are all gone from the trees, and most have blown away or have been raked. So, there are not that many left on the ground either. All we have left is bare trees and right now grey skies. But there's beauty in shades of grey as well, just not as vibrant and striking as our eyes like. We've even had a hint of winter - snow flurries for most of the day, but most melted as soon as they hit the ground.

A few days ago one of our first graders came in to the school and announced, "The trees are just about all clean now." I never looked at it this way, but it somehow makes sense. At least it did for one little boy.

Dreary days are perfect for curling up with a book after school or in the evening. They are also superp for writing. I'm working on a book with Herald Press and right now am in the editing stage. I've never worked with an editor from a major publisher before. Besides finding it very enjoyable, I'm also learning a lot about the publishing process and about writing and editing, of course! I promise to talk more about that, hopefully in the not so distant future... I may even have a cover reveal soon. Yes, very exciting!

I've always loved reading fiction, but these days, I'm also dabbling with writing fiction. It all started after an interesting workshop with my local writing group. We have fiction writers in our group, so to hone our fiction editing skills, we had a former member and fiction writer come and share some fiction writing/critiquing strategies. We were then given an interesting assignment. All of us took two slips of paper and wrote a name and an occupation on each. We put them all together and drew one. From the slip that we drew, we're to write a fiction piece, which we'll share at a future meeting. I can't wait!

I've never written fiction before, at least not as an adult and have actually always adamantly maintained, "I don't do fiction," whenever someone suggested I try that genre. However, working on my first attempt at fiction, has me rethinking this. It's quite different than writing non-fiction, but it's fun. With non-fiction, of course, you know how the story goes, so you have a pretty good idea what's going down on paper. Not so with fiction, for one can never tell beforehand where your imagination will take you. Sure, before you start writing, you have the characters, a plot, and a general idea about what you'll do with it, however, some very interesting things happen once you start penning your story. Some unplanned characters show up and unforeseen things happen... which makes for some exciting finger dances on the keyboard.

I promise, I'm not going crazy... at least I don't think so. I'm just taking a trip down fiction lane and am finding it rather enjoyable. Where this will lead to, I have absolutely no idea right now. I will have to finish this piece first and then determine if there's some serious fiction in my future. Came across this quote today, and thought it's a good fit for this post.

All fiction has to have a certain amount of truth in it to be powerful.
George R. R. Martin

Your turn. What are your thoughts on writing fiction, or my attempting it? Would especially appreciate feedback from fellow Hutterites. Have you tried it? Perhaps you can even share some sage advice with me. Whatever your thoughts on this topic, I'd love to hear them!

4 comments:

tgg said...

your fiction class sounds interesting, but just a tad scary. :)

I haven't attempted fiction since graduating, since it's easier to get motivated with non-fiction; now that I'm not marked/critiqued for either form. Non fiction, ( meaning writing emails detailing all the crazy adorable things your toddler does, comes as easy as breathing. :p )

What I found helped me with fiction-writing, and it's endless, unlimited potential, was narrowing it down by having a theme in mind. Huge generic themes, like, say: change, gmo, games, hunger, but a bit of a theme nonetheless.
You speak of the activity your working on with your writing class, in which you write a story based on a random name and occupation. Argggh! A world full of options! I suspect it would take me till an hour before the next class to decide on what my story would be about. So as I read it, I was thinking, ....a name, a occupation, and a theme, please :)

Linda Maendel said...

Thanks, tgg! I don't find it scary, a little challenging to come up with plot, but also fun.

Monica said...

Well, not a Hutterite, but maybe a Mennonite can offer a few thoughts? ;)Like you, I just could never write fiction, and I don't read it either. The few times I attempted writing fiction (many years ago) I found it to be so much of a challenge for my small imagination that it was easily some of my worst work. When I do write good, credible fiction, it's only because I'm basing it on an event that I heard actually happened. One thing that I think does help with writing fiction is having very defined and interesting characters. I also once heard an author say that you should take the protagonist and put them in the worst situation you could imagine. That's pretty true. Some of the best fiction does just that!

I'm very interested in hearing more about the book you are working on for Herald Press. Best of luck with it!

Linda Maendel said...

Thanks, Monica. I believe in many fiction books there are parts that are based on things that really happened, that's what makes the story believable and in some cases powerful. It's precisely why I used the quote in my post.