I don’t know what to say about my fiction writing. I have won the NaNoWriMo challenge four years, and belonged for about eight years.
I can’t post my writing on site because then it is published. However as I get older that is less important to me. Excerpts usually are not as much of a problem.
One thing that would be useful to me is to build a reference source for working on NaNo, such as the writing sprints and helpful tips that I might forget year to year.
Fiction is a distant form of story telling, with lovable characters, problems to solve, a goal to reach and difficulty in reaching that goal. The writer enjoys the process of writing. The difference between story telling and fiction is one of structure and point of view. The story is written by and for the author, fiction is written for an audience.
To write a novel all you need is a character with a passionate desire. This year my character is a homeless young man who wants to get his old job back in the Technical Industry. Robots have made his original work obsolete. He encounters many problems in his effort to re-gain his job.
Genre Fiction – Romance, Mystery, Western, Science Fiction, Fantasy;
The usual focus is on a problem, with action scenes, and often includes side conflicts, conflicted but believable characters, and a plot with built-in tension.
Focus is not on action – In broad terms, literary fiction focuses more on style, psychological depth, and character. Genre fiction tends to be multilayered stories which wrestle with universal dilemmas. Plot is secondary. They provoke the readers beliefs and thoughts, often with an outcome of changing or altering readers’ outlook on life.
The “classics” (ie. novels written before the 1950s) would be termed literary fiction. Most of these books are character centered rather than plot oriented. They look at the human condition and provoke the reader into change. In literary fiction, the plot bubbles underneath the surface. The important factors are: what is happening in the thoughts, minds, desires and motivations of the characters as they move about and within the setting. Adding a further layer, the underlying cultural expectations and social issues which influence the motivations and actions of the characters are explained. Often a story is built on religious or mythological symbolism or incorporates archetypes from other types of literature.
Parts of a story – tools of the writer
An opening line that grabs attention
Point of View – decide whether one character will be an observer, or will you switch the point of view as the focus on one character switches to another.
Scene setting is done over and over and over again, raising the stakes repeatedly to the ultimate climax (highest points of tension) of the story.
Foreshadowing – the ending should not come as a complete surprise to the reader, provide hints along the way.
Character building – conflicted but believable, described in physical detail, keeping to three or less for short stories, usually changes in some way by the end.
Tropes, or frameworks – basic story-line, often seen over and over, evergreen situations like ‘boy meets girl, the quest or the marooned’ settings are examples.
Setting – does the location work, is the description putting the reader in the local? Location includes the scene where the action takes place. World building or Imaginary futures are located. Character pasts are researched for the need to provide believable and consistent details. The economy drives motivation, potential for hope in the characters, and the conflict in beliefs are shown. The social problems become obstacles for the hero.
Plot – something happens that moves the protagonist away from their overall story goal or objective. Obstacles are provided.
Conflict is something competitive, either physical (two armies fighting a war) or mental (the decision to abort or not). Conflict happens externally or internally, but the results are external (an army wins, she keeps the baby, he’s happy, etc.)! The bigger the conflict; the bigger the stakes. Life and death conflict is the has the biggest result. There is tremendous conflict when those life and death are at odds. They are in the vast majority of stories. The reader will be saying “what happens next” with eager anticipation.
Drivers – things that keep the story moving, sub-plots, ascent or descent, flashbacks, tension of internal and external forces. Characters learn new stuff, practice to get better and everything takes a toll of some sort.
Climax – the centre after removing all the layers
Often there are set ‘formulas’ to follow.
Speculative, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Popular Magic Avoid lumping all fantasy together. There are dozens of sub-categories ranging from high fantasy that requires a running summary-scorecard to track all the characters and sub-plots, to well written ‘hard’ science fiction novels that have plot and character constructions. The genre is similar to the other genres of fiction but with a requirement for authentic references to Physics, Astronomy, Biology, Ecology with believable extrapolations. Some genre are dated, such as SF stories around technology.
Romance novels are often about delayed happiness and the pilgrimage of the character. The character imagines happiness. Why the story is being told dictates its climax. If it’s a love story, it must end with the culmination of that love.
Thriller novels feature a race against the clock, lots of violence, and an obvious antagonist.
Horror is often implied rather than explicit. It is useful to tell the reader about a secondary event that occurred as a result of the graphic action that is taking place. Let the reader infer the primary action, and the horror will follow. E.g. watching a train coming towards him and describing his eye pupils dilating.
The pattern of the murder mystery is the same as the pattern of comedy. In an apparently orderly world, a disruption breaks in, and through a sequence of reversals and discoveries a fresh order is achieved. In mysteries it usually turns out that that apparent order was in some way corrupt.
Series – more than one book on a topic or about a story and theme.
You use a reference manual for characters and locations, research, or science. Every detail including the selection of names is documented. You reference it frequently during the process.
These are just a few of the definitions and descriptions used during creative writing exercises.