Non-fiction is as easy as falling off a piece of cake – excuse the mixed metaphor, compared to fiction………….in some ways. Particularly in one quite essential way………………. In terms of retaining your sanity.
I write golf books. Books about golf courses. I know. I know. How many ways are there to describe grass?. It’s a challenge. There is slightly more to it than that, but in terms of dramatic comedic effect let’s leave it at that. But once you’ve done the work it’s there. It’s pinned and nailed down. It doesn’t move.
However, writing a novel is like trying to nail water to a piece of glass. Every time you get something sorted – you write a lovely little speech, describe something mystical or marvelous – something happens with the plot. A character needs to be in two places at once, or they disappear, or the location is wrong, or they’re in the wrong century. Look, I’m not trying to write ‘The Time Traveler’s wife’ here. It’s not complicated. Well, it’s not complicated in my head at least. I’ve got the characters on cards, on ‘Scrivener’ and in numerous, numerous notebooks. I just wish these characters would just stay still instead of moving around all over the place. Whenever I want someone to just appear and say something pointed and plot-movingonly (it is a word), they are somewhere else. Sometimes they’re in Colorado having breakfast with a nun, or they may be dead or not yet born. All very, very inconvenient. So I change it and then the next crisis comes when the nun in Colarado turns up looking for someone to have breakfast with.
I hate it when people say that the characters ‘develop a life of their own’ as if that were a good thing. I’m on my 8th final draft at the moment and it’s driving me crazy. I want this done now. I want them to all stay where they should be whilst I finish the book. I can then go back to writing about grass, meadows, swards, pastures, weed, marijuana, green, mary jane, narcs and informants.
2 thoughts on “The Difference Between Writing Fiction and Non-Fiction”
Reblogged this on CL Pauwels at Large and commented:
Oh, when characters refuse to cooperate! The obstinate suckers have derailed more than one story line in my work. How about you?
Yes so true! I found writing my non fiction book about expat partner’s relatively straight forward. Like you say, once the words are down, they stay there. But writing a novel? The characters are up to all sorts. Sadly some of them will be meeting an untimely end at some point. Either disappearing altogether or losing their status as a central character….