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Writing fiction | Inspired

Sandwell Valley and Milky 040

Fiction can be inspired by many things. It can be inspired by a photograph, a person, an outing, television or just a random thought. We have to keep our minds open to new ideas and new perspectives. I have just downloaded a new font, will it inspire me to write fiction? It could!

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time… That is how stories used to start; children’s stories anyway. We tend to think we can write something much more sophisticated than a simple fairy tale. All fiction is simply, what we can imagine, put into words. We can think of magical lands, of different times, the past or the future. We can write comedy and make people laugh or horror to scare them. We play with their emotions. We can excite them with a thriller or even with a work of erotic fiction. The finished work might make money, but most writers simply enjoy writing and enjoy sharing the vision. The story is a vision in the imagination of the writer and it takes words carefully crafted, to share that vision with the reader. It needs vivid and startling descriptions of places and events to bring the story alive. The writer must see those places, people and events in his or her imagination and it must be a vivid image; a clear image that can be shared with words.

My picture today is of a lake and looking at it reminds me of the day, but although you can see the picture, you don’t know how that place felt.

It was quite warm that day, but the place felt quite lonely compared to my previous visit. The sun was still high in the sky, despite it being late afternoon. It hid behind a black cloud, only to appear for precious moments at a time. The path runs along the edge of the lake and separates it from the river. When the river is high, it floods into the lake, but it was quite low that day. The farm is on the other side of the river and I saw water flowing into the river from the brook that probably powered the water mill, in days gone by.

Words can describe a place, just as they can describe people and events. People tend to be more important than places. The most important person in a work of fiction is the protagonist, our main character. I prefer to keep the story focused on the protagonist, after all it is about him or her. If you wander off onto other people, you risk boring the reader. Creative writing courses tend to tell you to, show not tell. Don’t tell the reader what the events are, show them with vivid descriptions. That will make it more vivid, but don’t make the descriptions too lengthy or describe every trivial event; it’s boring.

When you start writing your work of fiction, whether it is a short story, novella or novel; tell  people about it. You might be surprised how interested they are and how much they would like to contribute ideas. One of the doctors I see, asks about the writing, before we talk about my health! Whether people’s perceptions of you change for the better or are made worse when they learn you have become a writer, will depend on many things, but their perceptions will certainly change. I think they usually change for the better, if you take it seriously and  work hard at writing the story.

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