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Monday, April 23, 2012

THE KEY TO WRITING FICTION by Susan Frances


“I write books that I like to read.” – J.K. Rowling

The impulse to write fiction can be overwhelming; yet many fiction writers face the same dilemma: “What kind of story should I write?” Unlike most non-fiction writers who base their books on facts and tangible figures, fiction writers have no preconceived blueprint for their book. They must create their own blueprint, but before they can conceive a storyboard, they must face the challenge of deciding what elements to put into their story.

Since the success of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga series, many fiction writers have jumped on the bandwagon to write paranormal stories. Of course, there are those fiction writers who have no interest in the paranormal world let alone write a story involving paranormal activity. I have to admit that when I think of paranormal stories, my imagination drifts back to the Ghostbusters movies. In particular Ghostbusters II when Bill Murray’s character, Dr. Peter Venkman hosts a TV cable show that puts the spotlight on people who share their paranormal experiences with its TV audience. In one scene, a female panelist shares a story about being abducted by an alien at a Holiday Inn and taken on board a spaceship. Of course in the movie, it becomes obvious that the panelist had been inebriated and imagined being invited by an alien to go on board a spaceship.

Alien beings from faraway lands possessing supernatural abilities are characteristic of the paranormal world. In movies like Ghostbusters II, it borders on the absurd and fantastical; and yet, today’s young adults seem to be soaking up stories about vampires to the mass level of grade schoolers collecting silly bands to show off to their friends. Ironically very few of these young adults have ever read Bram Stokes’ Dracula, the forerunner of the vampire cult and paranormal/goth fiction, which is the grist for the Twilight Saga.

I’m more inclined to prescribe to J.K. Howling’s philosophy to write stories that I like to read. It was the philosophy of Bram Stokes, Mary Shelley, and Jonathan Swift. This, of course, goes against what most publishers may ask of their authors which is to write stories that follow the trends currently set by the marketplace. Writing for audiences that are presently buying books is the objective and gives publishers a sense of security to generate sales; and yet, most fans of paranormal fiction have never picked up Dracula. It’s like being a fan of democracy without knowing anything about the US Constitution.

Fiction writers have one of the toughest jobs in the world having to decide what kind of book to write. Their choice determines whether their stories will resonate with audiences or not. The trends currently set by the marketplace act as a barometer informing fiction writers what kind of stories attract mass marketability, but as publishers give authors room to write outside of the current market trends, it’s possible to find the next Bram Stokes, Mary Shelley or Jonathan Swift. It’s not the audience who holds the key to writing fiction, but the author who must decide what kind of story to write.


ABOUT SUSAN FRANCES

Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in eastern Long Island, I always enjoyed writing making several contributions to her high school literary magazine, The Lion’s Pen. Influenced by writers of epic novels including Colleen McCullough and James Clavell, I gravitated to creative writing. After graduating from New York University with a BA in Liberal Arts, I tried her hand at conventional jobs but always returned to creative writing. Since 1998, I has been a freelance writer and have contributed thousands of articles to various e-zines including: Associatedcontent.com, Helium.com, Suite101.com, Jazz Times, Hybrid Magazine, Books and Authors, and Musicdish.com. My latest romance novel The King Maker has been published by Champagne Books and can be found on the publisher’s website [champagnebooks.com].

1 comment:

  1. Points well taken. If we don't like what we write, who will?

    ReplyDelete