Thursday, February 10, 2011
Writing Fiction by Deborah Reber
Guest Post by Deborah Reber
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As a writer who’s focused most of her career on writing nonfiction self-help or journalistic fare for teens, the thought of writing fiction was, plainly put, scary. It was something “real” writers did – writers with fantastic imaginations, a great command of language, and the ability to connect a kabillion different dots in the form of plot points and interesting character flaws into one satisfying package.
Truth be told, I have written fiction for young children before – about a dozen Blue’s Clues books to be exact – but that’s not quite the same. Those books had a set of predictable and well-established characters, and the parameters for what they could do and how they could do it were very clearly established before I even got started.
But fiction? As in a real novel? Scareball city. Which is why it took me more than a year and a half to actually sit down and come up with a three-sentence “pitch” for my idea after my editor at Simon Pulse first suggested I might try writing something for their Romantic Comedies line. That’s not to say I didn’t like the idea of writing fiction. It’s something I definitely wanted to break into, especially because I love the idea of writing books that aren’t tied to a trend or a specific issue or that have a hard time finding their way onto the shelves at bookstores the way my nonfiction books do.
So, after months (and months) of doubt and hesitation, I finally emailed my little synopsis to my editor, and I’m thrilled that I took that plunge. After tweaking the synopsis a bit, I was given the green light and I went for it.
I loved the whole process of writing Language of Love, relying on things I could make up on in my head as opposed to carefully researched facts. When I write nonfiction, I always work from a very detailed outline, which stems from a very detailed book proposal. But with my novel, though I did have an outline for the story, there was that feeling of flying by the seat of my pants half the time. I didn’t necessarily know how circumstances were going to unfold or play out, and that was, well, thrilling and fun.
And now? I’ve got the fiction bug. So I guess it’s time to start working on that next idea…