Writers write, yes? Yes, certainly ... but at the same time, no. As a person who has made her living writing articles for government publications, R L Morgan has vast experience of writing for both sides of the coin. In today's How to be an Author guest post, she outlines the challenges in switching writing genres from factual commentator to writer of fiction.
There are some of us who have enjoyed writing since we were a child, and each year by writing something in school it improved. For some of us, it continued until we graduated college and began working. Some of us entered the work force taking jobs which required us to write, whether it was procedures, handbooks/manuals, or news stories. But all of these are non-fiction, and each one has a set of "rules" which need to be followed to write something well enough to be acceptable.
As for myself, while my regular job did not require me to write, for eleven years I wrote articles [commentaries/viewpoints] of what was happening in my community and my feelings about it. When I started to write these items my writing skills were not honed, I didn’t have my ideas organized in a tight manner, although my writing had been informative. By the time I’d written my last item, I’d become quite adept at it.
When I started to write fiction, I somehow drifted to writing a contemporary romance story with a paranormal element running through the storyline, but after almost 9 years I still hadn’t completed it. That is, until someone suggested I should write for a much younger audience; which is what I did, cumulating in my first YA Paranormal/Time Travel/First Kiss romance novel, entitled “I Kissed a Ghost.”
A New Set of Rules
Anyway, making the transition from non-fiction to fiction I've had to learn a new set of rules in how to write. Most of these involved dialogue, showing not telling; where before I just told. I now had to learn about the use of tags. I had to learn not to be overly descriptive of something, but allow my reader to create the image for themselves in their minds. In the beginning I found it hard to break my old writing habits. Now I'm finding myself with these habits essentially gone. The biggest issue I still have and am trying to get a good handle on, is POV [Point of View]. Regardless of what's happening or being said it has to be in one's character's perspective, and you can't flip-flop between two characters within a scene, there needs to be a transition from one character to another.
All these things have helped me mould myself into the author I’m today. I've also learned there are additional rules within a genre depending on the sub-genre you've decided to write in. These rules apply to the dialogue spoken which needs to be true to the time period you're writing in, as well as how your characters are dressed, and their titles if any, as is the case with the regencies sub-genre of romance novels.
So as you can see writing is not mere a string of words you put together, there are rules which need to be followed if you’re to be well received by your readers.
A very informative post from Robin Morgan. Share any thoughts and feedback in the comments below - and share this post with your friends, using the buttons liberally sprinked around the screen!