The Journey Towards Fiction

Guest Post by Stephanie Rose Bird

Transitioning from writing nonfiction to being a novelist is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my creative practice. With nonfiction I think so structurally.  I use an outline for chapter development and do copious research.  Then I integrate personal vignettes and stories into the more objective text. This process goes on for months, sometimes even years but eventually I end up with a book.  I have published 5 adult nonfiction books over the past decade.

With fiction, I am in unknown territory.  As a child I was drawn to academics, hence my predilection for nonfiction. My creative writing always consisted of poetry and sometimes prose.  Making up stories seemed the domain of others.

As I mentioned my books are for adults, so how did I come to be writing Young Adult fiction? I can’t really explain it.  They say your characters and story will speak to you and as strange as it sounds that is exactly what happened for me.

If we leave enough quiet space in our lives characters and stories will come to us because within all of us there is a deep story. Like many novelists, my book has elements and motifs drawn from my life.  When I embarked on this journey towards fiction I pulled directly from my unpublished memoirs.  Quickly though I found that material wasn’t enough to create a novel.  A novel needs characters, plot and a setting that brings your words to life.  While memoir and fiction can have a brief relationship, marriage is not in the offing.

I read novels by others as I write being careful not to read something too directly related to my story. I want my book to stand on its own merits and to have a unique voice.  So far, I am able to accomplish that goal by understanding and admiring the story structure, plot of storytelling of others, while at the same time focusing on my inner story, muse and the voice that speaks to me—that of my protagonist.

With my nonfiction I can pretty much predict the estimated time of delivery.  The birth of fiction, at least for me, is completely unpredictable.  It is however a merry ride and I am enjoying the journey.

Stephanie Rose Bird is the author of five adult nonfiction books which you can read more about here:  She blogs here about the artistic life and writing process: Follow her on twitter @stephanierosebi.

Posted on May 16, 2013, in Blogging Authors, Writing & Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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