A Formula for Fiction

March 22, 2011

Is there such a thing? I thought so. I read. I study what I read. I see the structure of the story. I note the climbs and plummets in each rollercoaster plot. And then I write, using what I’ve read as a roadmap.

Should be easy enough. I’ve been writing non-fiction with various formulas for over a decade. How-to. Persuasive. Opinion. The topics change. The words shuffle. But the bones are the same. Maybe that didn’t make me the most creative non-fiction writer, but I was productive.

Maybe that’s what’s so frustrating now.

I want a fail-proof formula for fiction. I want to sit down, following a path, write a book and see it published.

:Head shake: Obviously that’s not happening.

Oh I’m sitting. And I’m trying to follow a path, but somehow I always end up in the waist-high briars and I can’t seem to get back on track. Don’t get me wrong, I do finish my books. But that’s when the real struggle begins. Because without a formula, I don’t know where to submit.

When a manuscript with an alpha hero comes in at 55K words, “category” comes to mind—maybe even Harlequin Desire. Seems reasonable. But what about the swearing and the almost erotic quality to my sex scenes?

:Face palm: I’ve gone off the path again.

So I replace all the F-words with tamer expressions, and I rewrite the sex scenes to include less of a blush factor, and then I save this edited version while keeping the original intact. And still I’m not certain I’ve made the right decision.

:Sigh: I miss the days when an editor said, “Give me 1,200K words on cloth vs. disposable. Two expert sources. Two anecdotal sources. Evenly balanced.” Then I researched. I interviewed. I wrote. And there was no question where the article would go upon completion.

While I miss the straightforward process of writing non-fiction, I don’t miss the subject matter. I would rather make things up than regurgitate reality. And while I’m making things up—on the path or off the path—I tend to be crazy happy. It’s the publishing part that frustrates me—the “where do I belong?” and the “where does this fit?”

Have you found a formula for fiction that works for you? Do you write the book and then find the publisher? Or do you write with a certain publisher and line in mind?


3 Responses to “A Formula for Fiction”

  1. KimberlyFDR Says:

    I always, always write the story (novel, short story, whatever) and then find a publisher. If I write the story originally to suit the publisher then I’ve not stayed true to the characters or story itself and I’ve just catered to an unseen person who may or may not accept the story/novel. If you write the story that YOU need to tell, then eventually you’ll find a publisher who wants to tell it as well.

  2. Tari Says:

    We are so in the same place. I actually always thought having the “formula” for non-fiction writing made it easier to write creatively. I knew where I was going, so I didn’t have to worry about getting lost, I could relax and be creative. With fiction, although you read category romances and see a ‘formula’, it’s not quite that simple, and although there is some sex, that erotic mood doesn’t quite seem to fit category. I’m trying to start with Blaze, but I’d love to head straight to Spice.

  3. I know you’re right, Kimberly. And I feel so much better when I write that way. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s