Saturday, August 13, 2011

I Wish I Was A Writer

Location: Couch
Listening to: Dr. House be fabulously snarky

So, I just finished reading a book that made me realize how much I respect authors of Historical Fiction.

I mean, I love and respect all genres of writing. I know it's extremely difficult to create people and places and events in your imagination and try to convey them in words that will help other people see them the way you intend. I used to want to be a fiction writer before I decided that journalism is probably a more realistic route to take.

But Historical Fiction is something else. Not only do you have to invent your own characters with their own lives and personal events, but you have to be accurate to the period. And any true events you may include. Because if you're not, people will notice. And they will not be happy.

The series that got me thinking about this is written by the incredible Jennifer Donnelly (the books: Tea Rose, Winter Rose, and Wild Rose). Without giving too much away (because these books are fabulous and intricate and wonderful and you should read them yourself without me spoiling them for you), each book follows different members of a family over the course of 40 or so years, starting in the late 1800's and ending in the 1920's.

The first book focuses on Fionna Finnegan, a young woman working at a tea factory in the 1880's in Whitechapel while Jack the Ripper roams the streets. The second follows India Selwyn Jones, an aspiring doctor, and Sid Malone, East London crime lord at the turn of the century. The third, Willa Alden, mountaineer, and Seamus Finnegan, adventurer, around the time of the first World War.

It just astounds me that anyone could incorporate real events and people into their fictional world. Sometimes it seems like it could be easy, because history has written parts of your plot for you. Other times, it's unbelievable that anyone can figure out how to incorporate a true story and one of their own invention so seamlessly you find yourself Google-ing fictional characters to see if they really did the things that the author said they did.

Mostly, I'm in awe of anyone who can write more than 20 pages about a topic and have it make sense and be enjoyable to read. That's a pretty cool talent.

Is there a certain genre of writing that you admire more than others? What do you think would be the hardest thing to write? What do you think would be the easiest? Leave your answers in the comments!

More later!


  1. I think you're right, either historical fiction or taking an established story (such as Star Wars) and writing a new book. Those characters already have voices, so you'd have to stay true to what someone else has created.

  2. Writing just takes a lot of practice and a lot of reading. You can totally do it as long as you have imagination and something to write with.

    Historical fiction is probably the toughest because there's so many elements that you have to keep track of to insure accuracy. And I feel like fantasy is some of the easiest since, while you tend to do some research about the Middle Ages if that's your fantasy schtick, you are making a lot of it up.

    But even that's hard, in a sense, because with historical fiction, you know the world already and are building around it, but when you're doing fantasy, sure you're creating your own world, but you're creating the rules and you have to keep track of those!

  3. Personally I think writing in the here and now is the easiest. However, when you look at two completely different genres such as fantasy or science fiction and the something like non fiction or even historical fiction, I think it would be immensely easier for me to write at the fantasy end where your imagination can go crazy. But I have a very vivid imagination and a lot people are good at writing about what they already know about and have solid facts on.

    In disagreement with JW - I think writing a series would be much easier. Writing the second novel in any series where the characters and setting is already established seems much easier to me whether you wrote the first or not. Writing in the same style as another author is a whole different story, but finishing the plot seems like itd be easy.

    -- Ive always wanted to be a writer too but it never seemed like a practical thing to do. Similarly I thought I'd enjoy journalism but its something I haven't really pursued yet...