Monday, October 24, 2011

Why do you write Fiction?

October 20th was National Writing Day. On the website “She Writes” a question was posed: “Why do you write?” Responses were limited to 140 characters (not words, characters) so, before replying, I thought about it for some time and realized that there are lots of reasons why I write and, specifically, why I write fiction.

There are intriguing snatches of conversations I’ve overheard, interesting or unusual physical and personality traits I’ve observed and unforgettable situations and events in people’s lives that they’ve told me through the years stored in my memory bank. Taking all those seemingly unrelated bits and pieces of information and creating characters and plots, combining them and transforming them into stories, gets them out of my head and onto paper and is extremely  rewarding to me.

But why? Maybe creating stories is my attempt to shed some light on the human condition and to make sense of what I’ve seen, heard and experienced throughout my life. Possibly, it’s because I want to leave my own tiny mark on the world, something that will be around after I’m gone. Or, perhaps it’s the fact that I don’t like loose ends but I do like all my ducks in a row and writing a novel is a way I can get them all lined up. My characters certainly don’t have it easy. They struggle with conflict, find themselves in some scary situations and they definitely have problems. But here’s the part I love. When I write a novel, I know there will be resolution, that all the loose ends will be tied up by the end of the book, neat and nice. Not necessarily a happy ending but a satisfying one.

Probably, the answer to why I write fiction is all of the above. My reply to the question on “She Writes” was, “I write because, for some inexplicable reason, ideas for characters, dialogue and plots swirl around in my head until I give in and combine them to create a story.” Why do you write fiction?

16 comments:

  1. Thought provoking post, Pat. I write because I get people, scenes and dialogue in my head that just won't budge unless I put them on paper. These "stories" are real lives that insist on being heard and listened to- so I listen!

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  2. Theresa,
    Exactly. It's almost as if they HAVE TO be told. Of course, we don't tell them verbatim; we alter and combine them.

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  3. I'm with you, Patricia. I write fiction to make sense of a universe (you call it the human condition) that just can't seem to get it together without my help. And, of course, for the fun of it. I'd rather write than do anything else.

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  4. Me too, John. I love the name of your blog, "The Joy of Story." I think that says it all.

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  5. I think too, it's a therapeutic escape. I can delve into a world of my own creation where I make the rules and don't have to change diapers.

    William Doonan
    www.williamdoonan.com

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  6. I just like to tell stories. Let my imagination play around with "what if." Still very much learning the craft.

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  7. No diapers to change at my house but I know exactly what you mean, William. I love entering the world of my characters and leaving mine behind for awhile.

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  8. Dac,
    I watched the video of the interview you did for Lifetime. Your enthusiasm for telling stories definitely came through.
    I wrote a post "What if" back in August, which you might be interested in reading if you haven't already.

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  9. We can't always control the things that happen in real life, no matter how hard we try. When writing a book, we have control and things turn out the way we want them to, although sometimes it takes a rough road to get there. For me, writing fiction is the "good time" I always wanted to have. I love entertaining people, and I think that's the role my stories fill. It's really difficult to come up with a short answer for this. Hmm.

    Marja McGraw

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  10. You're right, Marja. It was difficult and, I knew as I typed, that my 140 character answer didn't begin to cover all the reasons I write. But, it was fun and it did get me thinking.

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  11. I write fiction because it's more interesting and apt to sell better than non-fiction, though I very much enjoy writing memoir, reportage and poetry, as well. Is poetry fact or fiction? Now that's a good one!

    Marta Chausée, author
    Resort to Murder, a Maya French mystery

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  12. Marta,
    That is a good question. I never thought about that before. I guess it depends on the poem.

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  13. I write fiction because it really does tell me who I am without me knowing and it's not always obvious or on purpose. It's also a way to be whoever I want to be without the work actually reflecting me or what I really want.

    Everyone has their reasons I suppose though. Some write fiction to make money. Lol.

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  14. That's true; I think we can learn something about ourselves when we write fiction. Or, we can delve into another world and leave our world behind.

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  15. I write because the voice won't quiet down until their stories are told. I know there are meds to stop the voices, but then it's so lonely in there. Seriously, I write because it's the only place where I have control in my life. Between work and family I don't have much time for myself or my thoughts. By putting them down on paper, I feel like I get some of my control back.

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  16. Ah, control! I know exactly what you mean.

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