Sunday, April 14, 2013

James R Johnson – Practical Advice for Beginning Fiction Writers

Practical Advice for Beginning Fiction Writers

by James R Johnson

When it comes to playing baseball, there are rules.  There are also techniques that separate the superstars from the wannabes.  Veterans of the game know the ins and outs of the workflow while rookies need guidance in how to play the game well professionally.

Writing is no different from baseball.  There are the rules of the game.  Then there are the subtle techniques and strategies that make for a winning player and a winning team.  Fiction is a beast that needs to be respected and honored before it can be conquered.  Think of a rookie facing the New York Yankees, the heavy hitters of Major League Baseball, as a new writer facing fiction.  You just can’t walking into the batter’s box and expect to hit a home run without doing a little homework first.

First, know your story.  Know it inside and out.  Write out what happens, how it happens, who it happens to, and how they respond.  This is the beginnings of plot structure.  Your plot is the backbone of your story.  Once your plot is set, you can begin to build on this spine.

Next, know your audience.  You have a plot. Great, why should we care?  Know who the audience is for your story and find out what they care about.  Now tailor that plot to align with the audience.

After you know what your audience wants, choose a point of view.  What perspective on the topic you have chosen do you want to convey?  For instance, take our baseball analogy; would a perspective of performance-enhancing drugs and its effects on the purity of the game be in order?  Or maybe how the greats of baseball’s history view the modern changes to the game like instant replay and the advent of the designated hitter?  So many different perspectives to tell your story from, but it is essential to choose wisely.

Lastly, what is the issue?  The issue is an argument that is debated throughout the story.  In the end you answer the question of the issue with your perspective.  Again, looking to the guiding lights of baseball, what debate could you swing for?  Perhaps the fact versus the fantasy of being a major league celebrity is apropos.  Or maybe the issue of skill versus the experience in the game is a hot topic.  Are kids with raw talent better or worse off than the veterans with the experience of years?

So, as you step up to the plate, facing the giants that are the Yankees, take the best swing you can having done your homework.  Chances are you’ll strike out a few times before you make contact with the ball.  Remember that Babe Ruth, one of the most iconic players to ever where a Yankees jersey, struck out 1,330 times in his career.  Compare that to his career home run number of 714 and you can begin to see the picture.  Strike outs only serve to teach you how not to hit a home run.  Keep swinging and you’ll eventually take one out of the park.

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Genre – Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG13

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