Monday, July 29, 2013

Writing fiction

I've been writing for a long time.  I was an English major in college, and my current position requires a fair amount of writing.  I write and revise curricula.  I write resident and medical student evaluations.  I peer review for a couple of journals.  I've even published a few articles.

One of the things that I had always fantasized about writing, though, was fiction.  I am a decent medical writer, I think, and I figured that would translate to fiction writing at least a little bit.

Not so much, it turns out.  About a year ago I joined a local writers' group to try my hand at writing non-medical pieces.  And, even though I intellectually knew that I was in for quite a challenge, I had no idea just how much.  Writing fiction calls for a whole new skill set - developing believable characters, compelling plots, rich settings, and, strong dialogue.  I am having a lot of fun learning, though, and the other writers have been patient, honest teachers.

I learned to play the piano before I learned how to sing.  When I first started learning how to sing, I knew how to read music from playing the piano, but that didn't help me learn how to hit pitches and use vibrato.  Similarly, being a competent medical writer helps me construct sentences, but that hasn't made learning how to write fiction much easier.

For the first time in a while, I am new at something, and that newness is accompanied by nerves and humility. It is, perhaps, not a bad reminder about how all of those new interns feel this month. And though part of me wishes that I could fast-forward through the struggle of learning to write fiction, part of me is also enjoying the process of discovering technique and my own writer's voice.  

I hope that I can always find something to be "new" at.


  1. Very much alike to my English teacher. Much of her recent work is on commerical speech. Her book on commerical speech became popular online because of it's interesting content.

  2. I've missed you at group these last few weeks at group. I hope to be there next week, and hope you can come.

  3. Thinking about Chloe after last meeting. The essence of a story is a lead character wanting something. Someone or something stands in the way. The story is the result of the character's striving to overcome the opposition. There is always a dynamic tension between the character and her goal. We don't know what Chloe wants or what the obstacle to achieving it is. So she doesn't progress in a direction, she just floats along and things happen to her. We need to know what she wants and what the obstacle is. -Bob