Thursday, August 4, 2016 | By: The Write Way Cafe

How Not to Become a Fiction Writer... by Michelle Lord

The Write Way Café welcomes Michelle Lord, who shares her bumpy road to writing fiction.

I’m a writer and have been for years.  Whether it was school essays, letters to persuade a person or company to do what I needed, or nonfiction how to - that was something I could write well.  Though, after years of writing nonfiction I really wanted to write fiction.  I love good stories, action, mystery, thriller, whatever, that was the type of fiction I wanted to write.  I can tell you within the first 15 minutes who really was the bad guy or how things would end up, sometimes a red herring got me, but most of the time I was correct.  So when it came time to start writing fiction, in theory I should have been able to sit down and start writing.  Well, three years later I am still struggling to write fiction.  Why you may ask, well I’m trying to figure that out myself, and hopefully keep you from doing the same thing.

At first, I would start with a blank screen and try to be a “pantser” and just let my mind go.  Guess what, I would write a couple of sentences, get myself all confused and stop.  I would do this several times over the course of several months and realized that is never going to work.  So, next comes plotting.  I read books, took courses, asked other writers what they do and I was told to make an outline.  You need to know what happens at the end so you know where you are going.  That made sense, so I tried to plot.  I tried the Snowflake, Hero’s Journey, 3 act, 4 act, plotting wheel, whatever else I could find and I was getting nowhere fast.  I would sit and go blank.  So another year goes by and I still have nothing but starts of stories with no endings. I asked other writers what to do, as I couldn’t get past the first paragraph.  I would read it, then rewrite it, and rewrite it again and give up. They told me everything from drinking before I start (but I don’t drink), to just type and don’t worry about it, and then maybe fiction writing isn’t for me.  Talk about encouraging…

I then started getting emails about these premade plots.  They had a beginning, middle and end.  They had characters already thought out and all I have to do is change names, locations, and make a different twist or such and I could finally write fiction.  You just follow the plot and write.  I would go in and setup the plot to where I had separate pages for each chapter.  I even got those super “perfect” plots that break each chapter down into scenes to where you basically just write by numbers.  I can do that.  I used to do the paint by numbers so I should have no trouble writing by plot points.  Well, I felt too tied down by this method.  I would try to follow the story as it was outlined, but I just felt trapped.  My characters wanted to go one way, and I was trying to take them another.  Now another year has gone by and I have spent way too much money on premade plots, courses, books, etc., and I still have nothing for someone to read.

This brings us to now, the year 2016, the year I turned a speed limit – 55.  You know the speed no one can drive?  I have finally come to the decision that I either make this work or go in a different direction.  After analyzing where I was and what direction to take I realized I need to write short fiction, at least for now.  I’ve been studying the Lester Dent method of writing – pulp fiction – action, action, and more action and then the end.  Writing fiction is actually starting to click now.  If I can write several short stories, then I will have titles to publish, and finally start seeing results.

So, what is my point after all this?  Find what works for you and write.  Don’t buy every new “shiny thing” that comes along thinking you will find a shortcut.  If you need to, buy a couple sets of premade plots to get ideas flowing, but don’t buy every set that comes out, as you will never use them all and they will just get you confused.  Make time for writing, every day.  No excuses.  If you are staring at a blank screen and have no idea what to do start typing about anything.  Your day, your wishes, venting about something that is bothering you, whatever, just write.  Once you have all the mess out of your head then you can start to focus on your story.  Again, find out what works for you and do it.  If you need an outline, make one, but don’t spend so much time on it that you never write the story.  If you are pantser, maybe you just need to make a short outline of just how many chapters, where you are starting from, and then where you hope to end up.  You don’t have to end up there, but at least you have started writing.  The main thing is to quit making excuses.  Excuses of why you can’t write, don’t have time to write, or whatever else you tell yourself that keeps you from writing. Don’t be like me and waste years hoping to write fiction, remember to BIC HOK TAM, which means butt in chair, hands on keyboard, typing away madly… till next time.

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About Michelle:
     Writer, fiber artist, and Renaissance woman, that is how you would describe Michelle Lord. Born in Bloomington, Indiana, but has lived in Texas since 1976. She considers herself a Texan, even though her husband says you have to be born in Texas to be a Texan...oh well...
      Michelle is known for her art dolls, purses, and other fiber art projects. Her eclectic style comes through in her writing. She is currently working on a series of books on making an art doll from start to finish with Doll Artistry and Tips, Tricks, and Tools for Doll Making ready. She also has two different embroidery motif books, a other assorted nonfiction and in the near future fiction books in her portfolio.


HiDee said...

Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Michelle. Good luck with your writing!