Saturday, August 20, 2016

Writing Fiction, from WYBWM


You wouldn’t go to a movie without knowing the title of the film. If uncertain what the title implies, you would ask what kind of movie it is. Romantic? Comedy? Mystery? Drama? War? Horror? If you are not a fan of the movie’s genre, you’ll likely skip it.

Similarly, readers know what they want, and it is hard to get them to go far afield. Let’s see: romantic, comedy, mystery, drama, war, horror…so far similar to the movies, but also paranormal, fantasy, historical romance, young adult, etc. Go to and start to browse, and you will be presented with a smorgasbord of choices. [Metaphor, no food there actually.]

Evans (2015) classified novels’ genres as follows: mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, Westerns, horror, thrillers, romance, historical. Another classification he offers depends on word count: adult commercial (80 to 90 thousand), science fiction and fantasy (100 to 115 thousand), middle grade (20 to 55 thousand), young adult (55 to 80 thousand), Westerns (50 to 80 thousand), memoirs (80 to 90 thousand)…though memoirs are not supposed to be fiction.


Note the Foreword to this book, which is Stephen King’s Foreword to his own On Writing, Second Edition. He’s not sure anyone can tell another how to write outstanding fiction. Not having his skill and expertise, I will venture where he might not.

If you go to and plunk down $11 for the Kindle ebook version or $14 for the paperback, you will likely profit from Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy (2009), which, when I looked, had received a couple of hundred very favorable reviews at Amazon. Naturally, the smart “Dummies” to whom the title refers are the would-be-author purchasers of this easy-to-follow handbook, rather than the audience for whom the writers of fiction will be writing…at least I hope so.

As I do not have the Dummies book myself, I’ll lead off with advice from another source, which I do have. [A variation on the theme of “love the one you’re with.”]

Start with some good advice from novelist J.P. Kurzitza (2011) in a booklet So You Want to Write a Novel: “the story is everything. If you don’t already have that, then this booklet won’t be of much use to you.” Without an engaging story, great language won’t save you: “it’s like spraying a skunk with perfume.” [Notice that he avoids the over-used “lipstick on a pig” simile.] Later on in the booklet he offers three story templates to guide you. We’ll look at two.

You’ve got to develop characters, plotlines, chapters, scenes for each chapter. 


This excerpt from my magnum opus, Write Your Book with Me, is followed by a section giving details on Kurzitsa's formulas for three fiction novel types. You are invited to visit my writing-coaching-editing site.

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