Making the Switch from Writing Nonfiction to Fiction

I started out writing make believe stories when I was younger.  My imagination ran wild with me and I scrambled to keep up with my writing hand.  Then life sort of happened, as it tends to.  I kept all those scribblings and fond memories in my desk drawer.  It might as well have a label that said "Someday" on it.

Fast forward to 2016, and I was coming to grips with a diagnosis for sarcoidosis.  A rare disease that not much is known about, and there is no cure.  As cliched as it sounds, there is nothing like facing your own mortality to make you look at things in a fresh perspective.

One thing I knew I needed to do right away, was I wanted to finally get serious about writing.  So I joined an online mastermind and set to work on my rough draft of what turned into my first book:  Breaking the Chains of Silence.  I faced some of my biggest fears during the writing and publishing of that book.

Seven months later, I published Exploring Atlantic Canada my travel memoir of a solo trip I took to visit some of Canada's eastern Provinces.  Now, I enjoyed writing nonfiction, but ultimately it is not the final destination for me as a writer.  I have my eye set on writing fiction.

As a reader, I devour both fiction and nonfiction.  However, what do I pre-order the most of?  Romance.  Shout out to some of my favorites like Jay Crownover, Meghan March, Karina Halle, Penny Reid, Alessandra Torre and more.

Making the switch from nonfiction to fiction writing is much more than just a new genre.  Everything from how I mind-map/ brainstorm, to how I outline, to how I write has changed.  

My whole approach has been modified as I go.  It has been an interesting process so far.  I've hit some roadblocks and made a few breakthroughs.  

Here are a 5 helpful hints so far:

~Set daily goals to build momentum and consistency.  Get in the habit of writing every day, even if it is only a half an hour.  Then you can build from there.  This is one I am still improving on, but I have set a goal of writing 500 words a day in my project targets in Scrivener.  Having my session targets helps me focus and push to reach my set target and surpass it.  (Today's session pictured below.)

~Read some structure and story basics books.  Be careful.  It is easy to keep on reading, convincing yourself you aren't ready to start writing, yet.  This can become a form of procrastination and avoidance of getting started on your writing.  I was guilty of this, then I opened up a new project in Scrivener and started writing my first scene.

~Keep a notebook to jot down ideas when you are in line at the grocery store, or at a doctor's appointment.  Write down conversational snippets, observe people and their mannerisms and facial expressions.  The best way to write real dialogue is to listen to people speak around you.

~Reverse engineer the story if you want to.  You do not have to write linearly.  Start at the ending and then go back to middle and work your way back.  I'm not a pantser or a plotter when it comes to my outline, but more of a flexible outliner.  I write like I travel.  I know my destination, but I'm not rigid and allow some creativity and spontaneity along the way.

~Set a deadline for rough draft completion.  This is not set in stone, but it is a very clear goal to work toward.  That whole saying about a task swells to the amount of time you give it, is true.  No floundering and working toward someday.  My goal date for this draft is June 19, 2017.  My word count is at the bare minimum 55,000.  By the time I publish it will be around 65-70,000.  I know I usually add chunks during the editing phase, so 55,000 is a jumping off point.

I'm excited to share more on this work in progress as I go.  Have a great week!