Thursday, December 13, 2012

On Writing a Book: Fiction or Non-Fiction

After much preparation, I took my little hiatus from teaching to build a comprehensive workshop on what I've learned throughout writing my book, Spirit of Orn, and will compile it here for you all to see. I hope you enjoy it!

Writing a book of any sort is a long, worthwhile endeavor. If you indeed desire to write one, be it factual or fictional, the process will most likely take about 3-4 years for your first book. Because I've already gotten a handle on what to expect I suspect my next book will take about 1-2 depending on the demand the book subject places on me. This will be an introductory lesson. It will serve to inform you what to expect at the outset of your journey. Here, it begins with choosing whether or not you will write Fiction or Non-Fiction. 


Writing about factual events take time and lots of research. I have written in the past about this and suggest starting with preliminary historical research about the period, or the particular event of which you are writing about. I take it in three comprehensive levels: Global History, National history and Event history.

Global history pertains to the era in which you are writing. For instance, if you were to write a book about the black plague it would behoove you to investigate the late medieval period, and analyse the geopolitical topics that were being kicked around back then. Continuing with this example, you might want to account for the religious history of the Catholic Church during this time, as well as the relevancy to the later crusades in the holy lands that occurred some 50-70 years earlier. This will ensure that you have constructed a worldview pertinent to your book.

National history then consists of establishing the Socio-political and socio-economic climate of the particular region you are working with. So if you were writing about the Black death in France, it would be pertinent to include the displacing of generational land holdings from the Bourgeoisie and the emergence of a middle class due to the universality of death associated with the plague.

 Finally, the Event history will deal with the nature of the specific incident you are writing about. So if you wanted to write a Non-Fiction work about Pope Clement the VI, who reigned during the French-Avignon Papacy, you could write a dark humored novel about his life in seclusion, sitting between two pyres constantly kindled in his bedroom. As far as infectious diseases are concerned, this is why he survived, because the heat kept away the flea carrying pathogens. Through out this process the subsequent political intrigue will be quick to follow, so I wouldn't particularly bother with trying to come up with a particular "angle" on your approach to storytelling. It will come to you on it's own.


We will deal with fiction primarily throughout this course, so I won't go into too much depth here. I will elaborate on the purpose of fiction and why you would consider it.

Really, in any writing discipline, the events you are describing either happened or they didn't. Concerning Non-fiction, I would say overall that Non-Ficiton titles are far easier to write because your characters are static and easily researchable. If anything, it is slightly time consuming. Research must occur in either mode of writing however, so fiction can be a bit more interesting. 

In fiction there is two phases of writing, Research and Crafting. This may seem somewhat self explanatory, but the basics are that during the research phase, your primary goal is to investigate different perspectives or approaches to fiction. I like to read certain authors personally, and apply their styles to the works that I write, but you could also consult paintings, songs, or any other style of artistic medium. The Crafting side of it is multifaceted. Suffice to say, this is where you build your characters and your settings, and your motivations. Throughout this course I will teach you how to do that, so stay tuned and you will get a very comprehensive overview of these things in the weeks to follow.

That's all I have to say right now, If you have any questions as always, or specific requests through this series please let me know and I will try my best to include them in the class!

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