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.

3 comments:

  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.

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  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.

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  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

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