So, you have decided to write a novel. Good for you! You are entering into a world that is full of excitement and adventure! When I finally (after five years) decided to write my first book, it opened a door to fiction, nonfiction and sooner or later, science fiction. Which one are you leaning towards? Well, let’s explore some of the options, and while we do that, I will try to answer some of your questions.
The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines nonfiction as: writing or cinema that is about facts and real events. In other words, if you chose to write a book about your life’s events, told by you, (an autobiography) then that would be a work of nonfiction. If you wrote a true account about someone else’s life, (a biography) that too would be a work of nonfiction.
The Nonfiction definition is pretty basic, and many people start their writing careers with works of nonfiction. My first book was an account of my twenty-two years in the Navy. I wanted to start there because I wanted my five children to one day read about what I did, and know me a bit better. When they pull that book down from the bookshelf after I am dead and gone, the name they read off the cover will be mine: Clay Westfall. In my book, that’s pretty cool!
The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines fiction as: something invented by the imagination; an invented story. In other words, you write a book with a story that was produced from your imagination.
Personally, I think these are the best kind of books! You have no restraints, no rules to follow… you just let your imagination run and enjoy the ride. The only book I ever intended to write was my autobiography. Once I was finished, I found that I really enjoy telling stories, and that I was good at it… at least I thought I was. Once I get up enough courage, I started writing my first fictional mystery story; Mystery, USA. With this book, I was able to run free with the story, and I even added some real life details, like the personalities of the three sons. I had such a good time writing it, I went on to write two more, and the fourth on is on its way.
I greatly encourage you to write a fictional book, even if you have no intention of publishing it. It will unlock those childhood fantasy’s that are just dying to come out of you! You can be your own version of Scarlet O’Hara, or Sinbad the sailor… or maybe even Captain America! I promise you… if you start writing fiction, it will open doors that you never thought existed!
The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines science fiction as: fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having a scientific factor as an essential orienting component. In other words, science fiction is the same as fiction with a scientific spin on it. The reason science fiction is so popular is because people are always fascinated by science, and when you add that to an interesting story line, people who normally are not interested in fiction will be drawn to it. If you look at the world today, science fiction is everywhere! Super heroes, magicians, even dinosaurs in the streets of New York… there is no end to the scientific spin you can put on, well, anything!
I have never been brave enough to try science fiction. With me it has always been a safe zone – fiction vs nonfiction. The problem I have with science fiction is all the learning that comes with it. In the days of black and white TV shows, the evil scientist could invent a ‘planet destroying ray,’ and that was good enough. Today, if your evil scientist does invent a ‘planet destroying ray,’ you had better give your audience some idea of how it works. Children and adults of this millennium have the benefit of technology… in other words, they know too much to be interested in the science fiction of yesterday. If you don’t believe me, on the next movie night, watch the 1902 version of ‘A trip to the moon.’
So, fiction vs nonfiction -???
Here is what I recommend you do. If you are planning to write an autobiography, then put everything else out of your mind. If you need some help with that, look into the January archives to your right and you will find some helpful articles there. If you don’t think your life is
that interesting, then start writing down ideas for your fiction novel. Every idea is useful, so don’t discard anything! When I was writing my second fiction; ‘Potluck Murder,’ I thought of an excellent way to cover up forged documents. The problem was, my book had no documents that needed forging! But, I wrote down the idea anyway and put in my idea shoe box (it sits on my desk… I recommend all of you get one). Two years later I started my third book; ‘The Silver Sower,’ and that idea fit perfectly into the plot of the story. Bottom line… never throw out an idea.
If science fiction doesn’t scare you like it scares me, then go for it! Be the best science fiction writer out there! Oh, and if any of you ever write a book that was inspired by my website, let me know… I will buy a copy!
National Novel Writing Month
In closing, I wanted to tell you about National Novel Writing Month. It is always in November, and the idea is that if you have been meaning to write a book, this is your month to do it! You would start on the first on the month, and complete it by the end of the month. Personally, I have never written a book in one month. But, if you have nothing to do but write all day, go for it.
I have enjoyed spending time with you in this article. I hope that one day you can get as much enjoyment out of writing as I do. Please, if you have any questions, comments or if you need any help with your book, leave me a note below. I will do all I can to help you. See you between the pages…