You may be a fiction writer if:
- You like to daydream. You can sit happily
staring out a window, watching the world go by and letting your thoughts
wander, kicking up whatever strange ideas they may stumble across. People who
bust in on your thoughts (‘I could see you weren’t busy’) are being offensive.
- You conduct conversations in your head with
imaginary people – or imagined versions of your family, friends, acquaintances
and celebrities. You may have much deeper relationships with the imagined
version of a crush, or boss, or your mother than you’ve ever had with the
- You find yourself analyzing emotional incidents
for a deeper understanding of the motivations and issues at play. There may be
diagrams involved – or poetry.
- Someone infuriates you – and your response is to
imagine them as the victim in a murder mystery or thriller, horror or suspense
plot. Don’t doubt that many a real-life a-hole has died a myriad fictional
- You tend to search for The Perfect Words to describe places, people, weather, moods… In
describing this neighborhood, do I focus on the languid boulevard trees in
their summer greenery beneath a sultry silver sky, or the clusters of single
family homes built early in the last century, or the business complex opposite,
or the frequency of traffic on the major cross street? How would I describe the
character of the place? A contradiction between sleepy nature and industrious
civilization? A tense borderland between big business interests and the quiet
lives of ordinary folk? Just write it off as a ‘quiet neighborhood’ when there’s
so much life and activity under the surface?
- You’ll go over a sentence or paragraph again and
again to be sure it’s understandable and says exactly what you want it to say.
You’ll solicit the opinions of others: family, friends, critique partners and/or
editors and argue with genuine passion about semi-colons and dashes.
- Your favorite form of entertainment is a good
story. It doesn’t even have to be a book. It could be a movie, play, tv show,
puppet show, comic book – or a friend’s recounting of an incident at work. What
is a tweet or a Facebook post, but a mini-story contributing to a larger
pastiche story portraying your whole social milieu? (You are proud of yourself
for knowing words like ‘pastiche’ and milieu’ and using them correctly together
in a single sentence.)
- You’re inclined to imagine what it would be like
to walk a mile in another person’s shoes. What is life like for that friendly
bus driver? for the mother herding two kids and a toddler through the grocery
store? For the guy making sure to park his Jag on the top level of the ramp,
well away from all the other cars? For those escaped convicts on the news? For
the families of the victims in that shooting? They are all living roles that
might fit into a story somewhere along the line…
- Miscellaneous incidents, objects, people,
factoids etc. start your imagination off on a chain of what-ifs that you could turn into a story. The witches in fairy tales sure get abum rap… A poster on a telephone pole warns of break-ins in the
neighborhood. What if I came home only to catch the criminal in the act… . This is no fun at all, what if you could hire someone to switch
consciousnesses with you while you did your stint with the dentist?...
- You’re willing to spend countless hours working harder on a manuscript that may never earn you a dime than you work on your actual paying job. And you’ll keep on this way for years because, while recognition is nice, the story is the thing.