CHALLENGE YOURSELF: Why am I writing fiction?

We authors love to read, and we love, of course, to write fiction. We love stories. We love connecting with stories, because we love what they teach us about being human and how they explore what it means to be human.

So today, I wanted to offered a challenge by offering some questions you can consider (or not, of course) on your own time. During a spare moment. Maybe while sitting in traffic or something.

We authors know we have the bug to write, but how often do we really consider WHY we feel driven to craft stories about people who don’t exist? I don’t consider this very often, I know, and I’m a rather contemplative type. I like deep thinking.

So, here are just a few questions that might help you understand why you love writing, and how you can best write so as to develop as a person.

  1. Why do I write about the characters I do? What about them draws me to them? What do I admire about them? What does that say about me? How can I better demonstrate those attributes/virtues of theirs I like so much?
  2. Putting character and plot aside, what is my story really about? What is the theme there, the one that cuts through story specific details and speaks to being human? Can I draw the theme out more, maybe, without cheapening it?

For me, the thing that is really standing out to me right now about my own fiction is failure: my characters tend to be little people (in the sense that they are humble people aware of their flaws and weaknesses, even if they also have undeniable strengths.) These little people face big obstacles…. They are constantly bombarded not only by a fear, but by a likelihood of failure that kind of makes me queasy.

The unknown after failure looms rather large for some of my characters. And I know that’s something that’s always unsettled me: I tend to be a worrier. I worry about the future, because the future is unknown, and I think we can all admit that’s always a little scary.

Fear of failure, of lack of control (which can lead to failure), and perfectionism are things I have been focusing on and praying about…. Recognizing what it is that holds us back is always the first step to making changes, and MAN, have changes been happening! (This isn’t my faith blog, but I published a post there a while back about how crazy a year 2014 was and how God reached out to me very personally last summer.… SO much has changed in my life since then! If that kind of story interests you, there’s a link.)

Anyways, I have always found it kind of scary how deeply my characters manifest my same insecurities and weaknesses. It’s like watching them overcome the same things I face (or symbols thereof) helps me find courage to confront them too.

I suspect that’s not all too uncommon, though.

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26 responses to “CHALLENGE YOURSELF: Why am I writing fiction?

  1. My characters are people I would love to know in real life. And, of course, they each have their own similarities to who I am.

  2. Reblogged this on Legends of Windemere and commented:
    An interesting set of questions.

  3. Usually, my characters aren’t like the real me, rather they are like I wish I could be.

  4. I think that (at least for me) writing is a catharsis. There are so many issues that I have dealt with in my life, and by writing those same emotions in my characters, it will help me answer those questions within myself. Of course, I don’t mean writing the same situations, but the base emotions that result from them. In many ways, I think that has stalled me somewhat in my current WIP. I am honestly afraid of delving deep enough to open old wounds, yet I know it must be done. It will make the difference between a mediocre attempt and one that feels real to the reader. So, my New Year’s resolution is to rip off that bandage and get to work and finish my first draft once and for all! 🙂

    • Love this. Thank you so much for sharing! Writing has been a catharsis for me too. My emotions about leaving grad school, my worries then, my doubts about myself, they all came through in my writing. That was how I confronted them (or at least began to.) I think lots of people don’t realize how brave we writers we really are! 🙂 Best of luck!!!

  5. I’ve always loved stories. But I was driven to write after being introduced to John Steinbeck’s writing in middle school. Steinbeck gave voice to the voiceless and that is what I endeavour to do, as well.

  6. Right now I’m drawn to creating characters that are disliked because of their temper problems or propensity for isolation. Anger and desire to be alone are things that I’ve had to deal with my life, and working these out into characters helps clarify a lot of confusion, along with identify some of the deeper meanings behind anger and self-isolation. Great post and great questions!

  7. Those two questions really get at the heart of the matter, and I’d say they’re not the easiest to answer. I was surprised when my editor mentioned how often the themes of family and sickness come up in my stories. The reasons for that make perfect sense if you know me well, but I never knew I was writing about those things until it was pointed out to me.

    • I’ve been STRUCK before too editing my work. Reading a scene where a crown prince tries to reconcile himself to the life that lies ahead, that he can do nothing about, and realizing that was me feeling trapped and unfulfilled in grad school… Craziness.

  8. “…WHY we feel driven to craft stories about people who don’t exist?”
    I really like that statement. For some reason it really captured my attention. Nicely done.

  9. I tend to write about characters who aren’t “whole people” yet. They are nice people, good people, but they have personal obstacles to overcome before they find the self-worth and love they deserve. When I consider why I choose to write about these kinds of characters, it’s because they seem the most “human” to me–as fallible as the rest of us are–and I want them to find happiness and fulfillment in their lives as they mature as individuals. My theme is always that “love changes everything.”

  10. Pingback: Liebster Award – Acceptance and Nominations | Margarita Morris

  11. They definitely make me think too! Hopefully 2015 will be a great year for you and yours!

  12. The characters I come up with can often do things I can (play the harpsichord, win at blackjack, paint something beautiful). Others are allowed to have temper tantrums if they don’t get their way, snark at stupid people (which I don’t, actually), or otherwise say things that are too hard for me.

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