My Struggle With Fiction Writing

I am a writer and a pretty good one. Heck, I’ve been writing all of my life and I have a good track record of success. BUT that’s with my history of journalism, column writing, and other non-fiction writing endeavors. Not fiction. Fiction writing is a whole different animal.

With non-fiction writing I can lean back all the way to high school days and probably even further than that. I was taught how to write and edit my work by some of the best teachers on the planet in my Philadelphia schools as well as in undergraduate school (Howard University). Could I be better at what I do? Of course. I am always working on my craft. For instance, I am a horrible speller (thank God for spell check!) That’s why I occasionally write about my grammar blunders on my writing tips blog and frequently seek the help of sites like Grammar Girl.

So when I ran across this excerpt of a podcast with Creative Penn’s Joanna Penn and writer James Scott Bell, I was like “YES!” Somebody finally put my specific struggle into words. This was Mr. Bell’s comment:

One common mistake that new writers make is a tendency to start off slowly and not get into a scene where something happens. Characters alone and thinking, starting their day is not a good opening. The story begins not when you lay out the kindling, but when you strike the match. The opening disturbance is critical to engage the reader in the story.

I definitely do this ALL the time because I am a linear thinker. I have to start with scene 1, chapter 1 and I’m pretty sure it is the main reason why I have been struggling with getting my first book finished. When I’ve experimented with starting my writing where the “action” or “emotion” begins in my story I have written 3x as much and I’m so happy:)

My New Writing Goal

So with all this new self awareness (ha-ha!), I’d like to set my new novel writing goal to 5000 words a week. This schedule pretty much allows me the weekend off or some leeway if I miss a day of writing. At this rate, I should be able to complete a 120,000 word book in 24 weeks. Of course that’s the latest I’d like to be finished. In reality I’d like to be done a lot sooner, hoping that some days I get in “the zone” and write a few thousand words in a sitting. We’ll see:)

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