I am a firm believer that writing is an art. Writing is also a very vague term as it is such a broad hobby. Do you write non-fiction, flash fiction, short stories, novellas, novels, epics or poetry? Do you read fantasy sagas, self-help articles or abstract anthologies? We all have our comfort zones, but experimentation is key for a writer. Why? Because by dabbing into another genre, you will acquire so many new skills that even if you do not like the genre itself, you will come back a much more experienced writer.
So how to get started? Well let’s have a look at the different types of writing fiction and what they require. Please note that the word limits are by no means set in stone.
Flash fiction – this is extremely short fiction, from as little as 100 words to about 1,000. It’s usually found in magazines, but works very well for ‘spur of the moment’ ideas. It also works well with stories that have a little moral behind it, and equally stories that are nonsensical and are their for humourous purposes. So if you hop on the train or bus, get out a notepad or your phone, and pick any little topic that touches your senses. Maybe a spurring relationship between two elderly citizens who thought love was long lost? Anything will do. Just try it. You will feel satisfied at the end of it.
Short story – a very common form of writing and can often be collaborated as a collection in an anthology, usually found from 1,000 to about 10,000 words at the very top end. It works well for most genres, but the key thing to remember is that you are writing about a very particular slice of life, rather than a long journey. A novel will require you to hook the reader within the first few pages. A short story will require you to do that in the first few sentences, but it doesn’t mean the story can’t be fun and fulfilling. What mood are you trying to show in the story? What happens to your main character and how does this change their life? How will it relate to their readers? What theme will be most prominent?
Novella – As the word counts for each of these types increase, you add a few more features into each type. For example, a short story focuses mostly around the main character. A novella (approx. 20,000 to 50,000 words) will allow you to add a little more complexity into the story, and although they normally feature only point of view, a sub-plot is not particularly uncommon. Five main parts of a novel include introduction, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution – the rising action and climax taking for most part of the word count. The market for novellas is currently booming for electronic sales, e.g. kindle books as it’s length is slightly more satisfying than the short story for readers looking for more reading, but not too much for one sitting.
Novel – Novels are usually 50,000 words long to 120,000. At the lower end of the scale, you’ll find a lot of young adult novels, and usually fantasy and science-fiction books at the higher end. Romance and mystery tend to hover around the middle. A lot more depth and complexity can be added into a novel, as well as multiple sub-plots and points of view, but without, of course, comprising the main plot or overriding the main character and his journey. The protagonist will go through a lot of changes and evolve throughout the story, and although your story may span a mere twenty-four hours, you will explore a lot of themes, emotions, moods and the conflict in depth.
Poetry – Poems are most often written to express feelings and emotions. Everyone can benefit from it and it’ll bring out a lot of your personality. The best thing about poetry is that there will always be a form to suit you, perhaps a haiku for a short and simple message, or free verse for your philosophical, free flowing mindset, or a sonnet for your romantic passions! There has never really been any word limit to poetry, after all, it is about expressing your emotions, and there can be no limit to that!
There are many, many more that I could write on here, for example drama and non-fiction, and it only goes to show there is a lot more out there for your to discover and learn from. Keep exploring and enjoying 🙂
I would love to here any thoughts or experiences you have on experimenting 😀