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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

5 Ways to Become a Fiction Writer if You've Only Written Non-Fiction

Is it easy to switch from nonfiction to fiction?

I can only speak from personal experience and say a resounding "NO!"

They require different skills--at least the kind of nonfiction I write does. My nonfiction books are health-related and many are textbooks. It's hard to be breezy and free when you're writing about menopause or bladder spasms. I try, but, like I said, it's not easy.

So, I've racked my brain to come up with 5 ways to become a fiction writer if you're used to writing technical or scientific stuff.

  1. Start reading poetry. It is filled with wonderful descriptions of things I never even thought about. It will give you great ideas for describing people, settings, and situations.
  2. Read more fiction in the genre you hope to write in. While you're reading, take notes in the book (if you own it or it's digital) or in a separate book. Look at things like: how much dialogue is there? How much action? How much internal dialogue? By whom? How often? This will give you a feel for how much to put in your book.
  3. Read more fiction bestsellers. Yes, I know, bestsellers aren't always the best written books, but they have things called hooks that you'll need to use to attract readers to your book. 
  4. Develop a genre of your own. Dan Brown is used all the time as an example of a writer who sells lots of books despite not being in say Ross Macdonald's or Mary Stewart's class. How does he do it? He invented a genre of his own and people who want to read religious thrillers flock to him. 
  5. Get a tough beta reader or join a critique group who will be honest with you about what needs to change. Besides reading, being critiqued by tough judges is the fastest way to jump from non-fiction to fiction. 
That's it for now. I've got to go and work on #4 above.