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Archive for the ‘creativity’ Category

Most writers dream of writing and publishing a novel. In our collective mind that’s exactly what writer does.
But should you dismiss non-fiction writing: journalism and online articles?
In this post I’ll try to make it easier for you to choose between those two, or maybe mixing them.

Creativity

This is something everybody associates with creative writing (as the name clearly shows). But come to think of it, one needs a fair amount of creativity in non-fiction writing as well.

When writing fiction, you need to be creative about the solutions you want to implement in your plot, about your characters, plot twists and dialogue. You need to keep it fresh, so the potential readers want to read your novel only after reading the summary.

With non-fiction, keeping it fresh is even more important. Every time you write, you need to write about something new. And you need to put your own twist on subjects already covered by others. Here, creativity turns into a more technical skill. It’s all about writing good headlines and using good keywords.

Word count

Your fiction piece can start at 100 words and go on indefinitely.

A good article (especially one published online) is usually between 300 and 800 words. Anything less will get dismissed as not being noteworthy and anything more tend to be skimmed through and forgotten.

Therefore people who prefer to write short stories and get quickly to the point tend to write better non-fiction pieces (word count wise; but I’m generalizing here, so no offense to anyone).

Publishing

Nowadays it’s far more difficult to get your novel published than it was few years ago. So many people are writers that publishing houses can afford to have high standards. Nonetheless, you can still find publishers around, if you know where to look and are patient enough.

Finding a publishing place for your non-fiction is far easier. Especially if you’re thinking about publishing online. Anybody can have a website or a blog, and use those venues to publish their articles or essays.

It’s finding a paid gig that’s more of a challenge. You need to find those sites that work for you. Sites like Helium, Associated Content, Review Stream or Suite 101 seem to have both their fans and supporters and people who claim it is impossible to earn there. In my opinion it’s a matter of good and proper research that can result in finding a place that works best for you.

Fan base and getting readers

In the simplest words: fiction writers get bigger fan base but non-fiction writers get readers easier.

What I’m trying to say is that in the world of fiction you follow the authors while in the world of non-fiction, you follow the subject and the information.

If you write a good article on a subject of your interest, it’s very likely to get new viewers every day. But while that one article may prosper, your other articles can be overlooked and ignore.

And if one of your novels becomes popular, almost always your other works gain popularity as well.

Readers of fiction are more prone to become regular readers of their favorite author. Non-fiction readers only care for the information and not for the person that provides it.

Overall

I won’t tell you that one type of writing is better than the other. Both of them will affect your writing skills and hopefully improve them. I know that there’s nothing in the world that can compare to the thrill of getting your novel published. But I also know that getting feedback on my articles and see them impact my readers is also very satisfying.

What’s your take on the subject? Fiction or non-fiction?
And should AllWrittenDown cover non-fiction writing as well?

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Photo by vieuxbandit

1. Ten Things That May Indicate You’re Writing a McNovel – it’s almost like a Mary Sue test for the whole novel

2. Internet-Resources.com – Writers’ resources on the web

3. NotWriting – stuff one writer does when he should be writing

4. Notebook in Hand – mingle with other writers in forums

5. Storyist – software for writers with Macs. Makes you want to buy a MacBook

6. Seventh Sanctum Generators – Random fun for those who need inspiration

7. Story Spinner Online – gazillions creative writing exercises

8. Fiction Factor – online magazine for fiction writers

9. 10 Things to Write in Your Notebook

10. A Dozen Online Writing Tips – written by a journalist but also useful to other writers

11. BBC Get Writing – mini-courses to improve your writing

12. Writerisms and other Sins – A Writer’s Shortcut to Stronger Writing

13. Language is a virus – huge resource page originally designed to help you with NaNoWriMo

14. Writing-World.com – impressive list of articles on how to write a good novel

15. 50 tools which can help you in writing – lifehack’s take on the subject

16. Writer’s Resource Center – targeted at US writers

17. TOC about Writing – serious and humorous articles from sci-fi and fantasy writers

18. National Punctuation Day – mark your calendars

19. Creativity at Work – quotes

20. Cliche Finder – pick a word and the site will find all cliches using that word

21. Writers Online Workshops – Instructions on how to improve your writing whithin weeks

22. SoYouWanna – how to publish a book

23. Gnooks! – find new reading material

24. Common Errors in English

25. Guerrilla Press – free independent publishing resource site

26. Word Perhect – a new way of writing

27. Hit Those Keys – site for creative encouragement.

28. NewPages.com – News, information and guides to independent bookstores, independent publishers, literary magazines, alternative periodicals, independent record labels, alternative newsweeklies and more

29. 110+ Resources For Creative Minds – List of must-visit sites and articles

30. BetterEditor.org – online resources for editors and writers

31. Wikimedia Foundation – Links to all official Wiki sites

32. The Care and Feeding of Writers – funny approach to little quircks typical for writers

33. Non-errors – Those usages people keep telling you are wrong but which are actually standard in English

34. Dictionary of British slang – for those non-British authors who wish to use Brits as their characters

35. Q10 – Free Word Editor for writers.

36. One Sentence – true stories, told in one sentence

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Photo: inspiration-journal2 by french-skits

I already wrote about a relationship between the writer and his or hers muse. And deep inside you already know who’s in charge in this relationship. But what if your Muse leaves the country and only drops an occasional e-mail? Where to find a new one? How to bring the old one back?

Well read on, because Dr Jane is about to give you advice on how and where you should look for ideas.

Stop waiting for things to happen

If you’re going to wait for this huge, amazing idea for a story that will blow everybody away and will make you famous… STOP! If you simply expect the inspiration to come over to your house and hit you over the head with a shovel… err, I mean with an idea; then you will end up having a regular job and a dream to become a writer one day.

The muse left you for a plumber? Well instead of waiting by the phone (or in this case the computer) either fight to get her back or go out and pick up someone new!

Ready? Good writer. Have a cookie.

Seek Inspiration in random places.

Look at some photos. Or, if you have a camera, take some random photos. Don’t try for anything ambitious. Hell, set the camera of a series of photos and just walk with it. Let the machine take pictures. Don’t interfere. After you’re done, just look through pictures your camera took. Maybe they are telling a story. Maybe there’s a plot hidden in one of them.

Listen to some music. Jeffrey Baumgartner recommends Bach. Me, I say simply turning on the radio will be just fine. If you can’t stand the newest ‘hits’, Turn on MTV or VIVA or any other music TV station and watch the video clips on ‘mute’. Each music video tells a story. Maybe one of them will spark something for you. Hell I know I have at least three versions of what really happens during, before and after ‘Sk8ter Boi’.

Read some children’s books. They are often simple and operate on some basic themes you can use for any story. It sounds silly now but for me, the Snow White can spark at least three types of stories and don’t let me start on the whole debate or whatever or not the Evil Queen was a sociopath.

Everything I know I learned from TV.

If you actually watch a lot of TV, you realize that some ideas are used in more than one TV production. Therefore, TV might be a great source of ideas for a writers currently looking for inspiration.

Create a Mary Sue for your favorite TV show. Yes. I know I said Mary Sue is bad. And it’s difficult to explain in theory so I’ll just give you an example

I’m a huge fan of the CSI franchise. And because I tend to create a Mary Sue for every show I watch it was just a matter of time for it to happen in the CSI universe. In my brain I created a huge crossover between CSI, CSI: Miami and CSI: NY. I wanted my Mary Sue to show up in all three cities. And because it would be difficult to work into the storylines I created three sisters, triplet. All looking the same. All pursuing careers in different places. Body of the first one was discovered in Miami. The evidence leads the investigators to New York where the second body is discovered. With two sisters dead, the investigators go to Vegas where the third sister works as a waitress. There’s even a plot twist and the revelation that there is also a fourth sister trying to make sure she’s unique. See? A bit of crack, I know. But it’s a summary. All I have to do is to place the events in different cities. Give the whole case one detective, probably FBI since it’s happening in different states and give all characters some original treats and I’m set with a usable story idea.

Try to figure out the next plot twist. Every episode has a certain structure. Everything is leading up to that one plot twist at the end. Well, try to figure out what’s the plot twist. It turns out to be different than what you anticipated? Well even better because you are left with an idea for a story. There is a cliffhanger at the end of the season? What do you think would happen? How does your idea work with completely different characters and background?

Read a summary for a TV episode or a movie. They are often one or two sentences. So it’s a great way to spark some ideas without actually copying the whole movie plot. Let’s face it. How many stories were about bunch of teenagers trapped in the woods, chased by a serial killer? I can bet everything that you can write that story better. Mission to Mars that went wrong? Oh come on! You know you would pen the awaiting death better than all those amateurs!

Art imitating real life.

Look around. The world is full of ideas that simply wait to be turned into stories. You just need your brain to play along. Those ideas are locked inside you and maybe you just need to break in.

Pick a person in a coffee shop you frequent. What do you think he does for a living? Who is he waiting for? What could be going through his head when he typed on his laptop? And of those questions might be a beginning of a plot. All those people around you can serve as a blueprint for a brand new, amazing character. Why let such an opportunity pass?

Read/watch some news. Someone was killed. Someone was kidnapped. There was an Earthquake. Two gangs have a war. Serial killer is out there killing blonde college students. Yes, all those news are terrible and world can be a scary place. But you can make it all better. Your detective can find the killer. Your FBI team can find the missing kid. Your characters can survive the Earthquake. Your college student might escape the murderer. Nothing limits you here. Write the happy ending to the gruesome truth. Or not. However you like it.

The question isn’t how to find ideas. They are everywhere. You’re tripping over them on your way to work. You just need to try and see them. Good luck! And if you have your own ways of finding ideas, share them!

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