To Fiction or To Non-fiction, That is the question

Two days have passed since my manuscript was sent on its merry electronic way to the editorial office of my publisher. I can only imagine what is going on in the mind of my nameless, faceless, you shall have no contact with development editor. I am allowing myself to count the days spent waiting as they elapse, like a countdown to the momentous event of receiving the editors comments and rework directions. Until then, I am free to let my mind wander a bit.

I have chosen to wander back through time to the point of deciding whether to try my hand at non-fiction or fiction. As I stated earlier, writing and becoming published are two big ideas beneath my dome of heaven, but what to spend my energy and time writing. My first approximation of direction led me to the idea of writing a fiction. I was to find out that was easier thought than done. Once, in my early teaching career, I worked up a unit of instruction for grade six students that resulted in an extended short story. The unit was based on cognitive skills related to classification and description. It was a very successful unit of instruction which allowed my students to generate pages and pages of narrative writing. The “Ah Ha” moment came when I thought of resurrecting the bones of that teaching unit and using them as the framework for constructing a work of fiction. I soon discovered that my grade six students had one thing going for them that I lacked, IMAGINATION. Rather than becoming discouraged, I looked for support, where as an academic, I knew some was sure to be found – the public library and the book store. Sure enough, I located the needed resources and I was off to the races.

Over the next few months (from the Autumn of 2011 to the chill of February 2012) I acquired a small but useful library of resource books. I list them here, for your information.

* The Canadian Writer’s Handbook by Messenger and de Bruyn, 2nd Edition, Prentice Hall Canada Inc, Scarborough Ontario

* Crafting Novels and Short Stories: The Complete Guide to Writing Great Fiction (from the editors of Writer’s Digest), Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinnati Ohio

* The Master Book of All Plots – PLOTTO, by William Wallace Cook, Tin House Books, Portland, Oragon and New York, New York

*  Writer’s Guide to Character Traits, 2nd Edition, Lydia N, Edelstein, PhD

* Revised and Expanded – The Canadian Style: A Guide to Writing and Editing, by Dundurn Press Limited in co-operation with Public Works and Government Services Canada Translation Bureau

** Guide and Handbook for Writing, Griggs and Webster (Temple University), American Book Company, New York

** The Little Brown Handbook, 2nd Edition, H. Ramsey Fowler, Little Brown and Company, Toronto and Boston

* Newly acquired  ** Books already in my library which are likely out of print now

Now, I was one happy academic. I had books to use as guides and references. Armed with these useful tomes I started writing. I was now faced with two problems rather than just one. Not only was I struggling with the writing, I was struggling to get my head around all the information at my fingertips. It was difficult to make progress and rapidly decided that another approach to my goal of becoming a writer was in order. Instead of wrestling with trying to write a fiction at the same time I was trying to get a feel for writing a large work, I chose to fall back on the familiar domain of non-fiction.

As an academic, my life was all about non-fiction reading and writing. Although, some of the report card comments I wrote over the years, had to be so carefully crafted to protect the sensibilities and feelings of both students and parents, one might have called them my earliest works of fiction.

I need to reflect a bit before continuing on, so until then……..


Filed under The Big Picture

3 responses to “To Fiction or To Non-fiction, That is the question

  1. What’s up, the whole thing is going well here and ofcourse every one is sharing facts, that’s actually excellent, keep up writing.

  2. Good day! I could have sworn I’ve visited this site before but after browsing through a few of the posts I realized it’s
    new to me. Regardless, I’m definitely happy I stumbled upon it and I’ll be bookmarking
    it and checking back frequently!

    • Thanks for the comment louann.armstead. I hope you will continue to find my posts interesting and useful. Sometimes I deviate a bit from the theme, especially when I get a bee under my bonnet.

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