Why Writing Fiction is Hard

When is the last time you read a bad novel?  You question every comma and word choices written by the author. You hate the main character because she is a whiny Mary Sue who is surrounded by crazy rich hot men who only have one brain cell in their heads. 

Been there, done that. Too often in fact. I always judge the book I’m reading in a negative light. Whether the author uses too many simple words in her writing, romanticizes suicide and shoddy sex scenes, I will always have something bad to comment on anybody’s novel. 

Don’t imitate this behavior, folks. Writing fiction is more than just coming up with characters and a story.  In fact, many people underestimate the difficulty of writing fiction due to our educational system curating more focus on essays and thesis. I believe every author out there has tried their best in their published novel, even if it means recycling the old plot over and over again. 

Writing is a hard skill

Do you know why many people groan in English Class during writing assignments? Because writing is hard! It’s not like mathematics or science where you can put your formulas and ensure your answer matches the answer key. Writing is like…exploring a wasteland. You don’t have formulas or answer sheets to cheat on because the answer is within you. There is no specific format to writing other than getting your basic grammar right. Writing is an ambiguous activity, and that is why many of us never finished our writing assignments on time because our brain spends too much time figuring out all this vague informations.

Additionally, many people underestimate writing because everyone believes simply sitting down with your laptop and coffee will solve all your problems. The truth is writing is such a lonely job where you stitch your words to sentences and proofread your work alone. If you have a beta or a trusted friend to read your work, then God bless you. 

Writing is hard, but writing fiction is harder

Writing novels (especially fiction) is taking your writing skills to the next level. Unlike essays that have a clear format and objective, there is no specific rulebook to write fiction. You need to ensure you got all your grammar right, use the right words, and write characters that are alive and breathing through the pages. Next time when you judge somebody’s work, think of all the behind-the-scenes he might go through. He might spend nights, days and even months to come up with an original story and write the characters the way they are. Not to mention, his work might be rejected by various publishers and editors. By the end of the day, the books that land on bookshelves are the result of the author’s hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. Not everyone will like our work and that is fine. Haters did a better job promoting your book than fans anyways.

Fiction writing ironically has the craziest formula. 

Good fiction writing = original plot + believable characters + balanced pacing + etc….

If I need to fill out that formula, the list will be plenty. Coming up with an original plot with non-mainstream characters is not easy. You may get inspiration from existing works, but writing something similar will get you sued for copyright. You need to use the right words and punctuation to evoke the emotions and intensity of the scene in your story. 

Sometimes the author likes to spice up big vocabulary words in his writing, but it becomes cumbersome to read and halts me from reading more because I need to pay a visit to the dictionary. 

My favorite novel is the Legend series by Marie Lu and Variant series from Benson Fisher. Even though these two books are simply written (it lacks intense description and is a pretty fast-paced story utilizing punctuations and commas), their plot is engaging enough that it allows me to finish reading. 

A passage from Variant:

“This isn’t one of those scare-you-straight schools, it is?” I asked Ms. Vaugh as we passed through the heavy-chain linked gate. 

Opening Sentence from All the Light We Cannot See:

“They blow across ramparts, turn cartwheels over rooftops, flutter into the ravines between house.”

Do you see the difference between these two writing? The scene from the second sentence is painted in more detail than the first one. However, that does not make the first one boring because we can understand perfectly what the first passage meant. Which writing is better? For me, they are both equally good pieces of work because the author finishes his work than leaving his stories unfinished. 

Are you still motivated to finish your own novel? I hope this post does not discourage you from being a writer, but I would like to kindly remind you that writing is not all fun and games. You don’t have to be a good writer on the go, you just have to be a writer who writes. Let’s hope we are part of that last 3%.  Let’s support our fellow authors without leaving crappy reviews on their book without a valid reason, shall we? 

Published by Caroline Natasia Cahyadi

I am an adult, yet I spend my free time crying over fictional characters, eating chocolate and thanking Jesus Christ for dying on the cross for a crybaby like me.

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