How to write a fiction book
“Everyone has a book in them.” though the origins of this quote are under debate, its validity cannot be disputed. Most people have a story to tell, but not everyone ends up writing the story of their life. The reason being, it is not easy to share the personal details of your life with the world. Some things are private and should remain that way.
What is more comfortable to write is Fiction. If you are inclined towards writing, then it is very much possible to cook up a story and put it on paper. But before you start tapping the keys on your laptop, let us take a look at what exactly is Fiction and how you can go about writing and publishing it.
What is FICTION
By definition, Fiction is something that is not real. It can be narrated in any medium like poetry, literature, movies, or songs. Coming to literature, Fiction is a narrative form. The most common formats of writing fiction are novels or short stories. An imaginary world, places, characters, and events are created to weave an exciting tale. Most of the time, the events and characters are inspired by real-life but written with just enough changes to qualify as Fiction.
Fiction is a way to depict or talk about real-life experiences in the form of an imaginary story. But it is also a gateway to let your imagination run wild and create fantastic stuff that is not possible in real life.
Let us now understand what the different types of Fiction that exist in the literary world are. Fiction can be divided into three major areas. It is essential to know the different kinds of Fiction that can be written before you embark upon your literary journey. From the very onset, you will need to decide what type of Fiction you are writing. The way you narrate the story, the plotline, and characterization, the general vibe of the book, will all depend on what type of Fiction you choose.
There are two ways to do this.
If you already have a story, then research which style will be best suitable to tell your story most effectively. Another way is to study the different types of Fiction and choose which class interests you the most. You can then start thinking of a story that will fit your choice.
- Literary Fiction
- Genre Fiction
- Mainstream Fiction
1. Literary Fiction
In simple words, Literary Fiction is more about the character or the protagonist of the story than the plot. It does not follow the conventional structure of story-telling and is infused with symbolism, metaphors, and allegory. In this type of Fiction, the story revolves around one or more principal characters. The narration is about their life, what they think, what they feel, the opinions they have, and the choices that they make. There are none or very few plot twists, and the story unfolds along with the life of the characters. The speed of the narrative is adjusted to the life events of the characters, and many a time diverges into subplots or themes.
Another significant consideration in literary Fiction is the time or place the character belongs to. Most literary fiction pieces shed light on the times in which the story is based and give the reader a glimpse into the society of that era.
Let us take a look at a few examples of literary Fiction to give you a better idea of what we are talking about.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise (1920): Fitzgerald’s first book— this book an inspection of the greed, morals, ambition, and love of the characters in a society that came into being post world war 1.
- James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room (1956): An American man living in Paris. The exploration of forbidden love in the most romantic city in the world. This book touches upon the controversial themes of Homosexuality and Bisexuality through the life and struggles of its central character.
- Edward P. Jones’s The Known World (2003): This book is about the relationship between a former slave and a powerful white man who becomes his tutor. It is through these two characters; the writer explores many different perspectives during the antebellum era.
- E. Annie Proulx’s Postcards (1992): Postcards explores the idea of fate, industrialization, and isolation as it follows the communications of an unmoored protagonist back to his family as he makes his way across the shifting American West.
2. Genre Fiction
Unlike literary fiction, genre fiction is a populist type of literature which caters to a wide range of audience. Genre Fiction is all about writing stories in any particular category. Genre fiction traditionally comprises genres such as romance, mystery, thriller, horror, fantasy, and children’s books. In this type of Fiction, the entire book is written on any one particular theme. It is not that a little bit of mystery cannot be there in a romantic novel or elements of fantasy cannot be included in a thriller, but the central theme and narration remain faithful to the genre that you have selected. If you decide to write a love story, it has to be all about love. If choosing to write horror, the central theme cannot be romance, and it has to revolve around ghosts and evil spirits.
Types of Genre Fiction
Popular genre fiction relies on familiar templates, character archetypes, and tropes to attract readers, but the best examples use these elements in surprising and creative ways. Here are the primary types of genre fiction:
1. Mystery: This genre can be any story containing an element of suspense. The book written in the mystery genre is a journey the author takes the reader on, where each part of the puzzle is solved step by step, and the mystery is resolved in the end. Books in this genre are exciting, fast-paced and most of the time, involve some type of crime. There are various sub-genres too in this category like cozy mysteries, true crime novels, whodunnits, scientific mysteries, hardboiled detective stories, and police procedurals in the style of English stalwarts Agatha Christie and P.D. James.
2. Thriller: Closely related to mysteries, thrillers ratchet up the suspense and shock of popular genre fiction. They are known for creating a thrilling atmosphere and create feelings of excitement, apprehension, and anticipation among the readers. Authors like David Baldacci and Dan Brown dominate the bestseller list with their thriller titles. Today, the category contains numerous sub-genres, such as espionage, legal, political, crime, psychological, and techno-thrillers.
3. Romance: Love is in the air and everywhere in the book. This genre is simply about love stories of different hues and sensibilities. A romance novel is a work of extended prose fiction with a theme of love. The entire book is about developing a loving relationship between 2 people, the hurdles this relationship faces, and the culmination of their love. More often than not, these stories have a happily ever after ending. Subgenres include historical romance, gay romance, erotic romance, and contemporary romance.
4. Science fiction: Either set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian future or far-flung galaxies or alternate universes, sci-fi novels conjure up the “what if” worlds. Science fiction books can have a historical setting, but most are set in the future and deal with the ramifications of technological and scientific advancement. Sci-fi books not just create worlds that could be but also create imaginary species along with advanced human beings. Popular sub-genres are alternate history, parallel universe, alien invasion, artificial intelligence, and space exploration.
5. Fantasy: This is the place of make-believe. Here anything is possible and within the pages of these fantasy books, Good always triumphs over evil. You’re probably familiar with the literary giants of fantasy world-building—J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling, and George R.R. Martin. If you have read any of their books, you know what we are talking about. Mythical creatures, mystical lands, medieval-style kingdoms, magnificent larger than life characters all come together to create a whole new world of its own. Fantasy subgenres include urban fantasy, superhero fantasy, high fantasy, epic fantasy, dark fantasy, and sword and sorcery.
6. Young adult: YA fiction is geared toward 11- to 15-year-olds, but a considerable number of adults now read YA novels. These coming-of-age stories differ from their middle-grade predecessors by featuring more sophisticated language and intense themes. The books in this genre can be realistic or fantasy-based. You either create a world and characters that young adults can relate to or you create something that most kids in that age group fantasize about.
7. Historical Fiction: Historical Fiction is based upon a particular period or specific event in history. It can be as broad as something based in the 16th century or pertain to a particular event like the fall of the berlin wall. The whole idea is to weave an imaginary story around historical events or to go back to a specific era and create an account rising out of the circumstances of that age. Historical novels offer a chance to examine the past from new angles, imagining the inner lives of the characters defined by the historical events of a given period.
Apart from this, there are other genres like magical realism, horror, speculative fiction, and many more which you can explore.
3. Mainstream Fiction
When a literary novel or a genre novel exceeds all expectations of popularity and becomes a bestseller read all over the world by everyone and not just its targeted audience, it is said to belong to mainstream fiction. Apart from popularity, the core ingredient in most of the mainstream fiction books is the blend of genres. Most of the mainstream books successfully wander into two or more genres, creating a complex tale that enthralls a vast variety of readers.
This genre may look the most enticing, but it is not easy to attempt. There is a lot of research, skill, and hard work required for one to pull off a mainstream fiction book successfully.
How do you decide what type of Fiction to write?
We have discussed the different types of Fiction that can be written. But how do you choose what kind to write?
Write about what you love. A good indication is the type of Fiction that you like to read. Most likely, you will want to write in a way similar to what you have enjoyed reading. If you are partial to a particular genre while reading, it makes sense to attempt writing in the same or related genre.
Write about what you are good at. It is as simple as that. Start your writing journey by selecting a subject that you are interested in. That will not just make the process of writing enjoyable, but you will have to do less research as you already are familiar with the topic.
Keep money out of it. There will be various blogs and websites that will tell you what kind of genre or style of writing is a sure way to make money. The truth is no one can predict a bestseller book just like no one can foretell which movie will be successful. J.K. Rowling’s manuscript of Harry Potter was rejected several times before it was accepted. So even people who have been in the business for long cannot always judge what will work and what will not.
Helps to keep an audience in mind. Though having a target audience in mind while writing the book is not required, it may guide you in deciding what you want to write if you have an idea of whom you want to reach out to.
Experimentation is not a bad word. There is no crime in starting more than one project at a time. If you cannot decide on any one thing to write about, start working on the two or three options that you are considering. Once you start writing, you will realize what is working for you and what is not. Sometimes a story may evolve from where you least expect it.
We hope we have given you enough ammunition to start thinking about how to start writing a fiction book. Writing is not just typing out the words. It is a journey where you evolve with the book. When you create a book, it becomes an extension of your being. Yes, it can be turned into a profession, and yes, it will earn you money. But the creative process of writing will always be about who you are and what you want to say to the world.