I’m now halfway through the 8-week course Start Writing Fiction that I have undertaken as part of an initiative to gain more insight into the craft behind my writing, and it’s been going quite well!
It’s weird, but on reflection I definitely feel that I’ve penned myself into a corner as a “sci-fi writer” – it’s too much of a comfort zone! Part of the challenge I feel this course is opening me up to is that fiction can be the genesis of even small and seemingly-insignificant situations, and it’s the writer’s job to interpret those as the basic planks of a story to which to attach a convincing plot and dress with their personal cares and beliefs. Thusly, some of the exercises I have undertaken have had me drawing on even fleeting details to create mini-stories and characters.
To me, this is quite refreshing and enlightening, and this revelation alone – that I can indeed stitch a story together that is out of my comfort zone of science fiction, the otherworldly and outlandish where I am cocooned from a sense of reality – means the course has achieved its desired purpose. I’ve been quite surprised to learn that crafting characters is actually quite easy once you have a mantra behind how you do that – are they just names in a situation or is the situation centred about them?
One thing the course has really drilled home is the sense of a “writer’s notebook” being a source and repository of ideas. I still find this notion a little romantic for my liking – sure, I’d love to sit and draw ideas for characters for an afternoon but unfortunately life has a certain regularity that does make this a bit impractical. I will definitely be investing in a brand new notebook after the course concludes however, as I feel that despite my latent reservations, nothing ventured, eh?
Week 5 of the course gets to the real “meat” that I’m interested in – creating vivid and believable characters! I plan to post a couple of the pieces of short fiction I’ve written so far as part of the exercises this coming weekend, so keep an eye!
Actually, an afternoon people-watching isn’t such a bad proposition now I think about it…