Saturday, May 4, 2013

Find a Topic in Fiction Writing

One of the more enjoyable moments of writing fiction comes in exploring a topic. Finding a topic is just plain fun—you get that spark, that idea, and then take the need to flush it out and explore it to the written page. With that in mind, I like to write about real life, but not typically the everyday events, but rather the weird and the strange—the things that occur in Florida. Florida offers a rich selection of the odd and perplexing—flesh eating drug addicts, priests who induce overseas riots by threatening to burn the Koran, people who wrestle alligators, that time it rained iguanas in Miami (freak cold snap forced them into a point of stasis and they fell out of trees and off houses, cleanup crews were startled when they sprang back to life hours later, jumping out of pickup trucks into traffic), and of course the large shipment of cocaine that washed up on shore during a storm just yesterday (5/3/13). These things are splendid fodder for writing, but only a small means to an overall end.

In writing fiction, the end (in theory) is partially a well-constructed, entertaining and stimulating story. At the same time, a writer is often exploring events of his own life, coming to grips with the bumps in the road, the aging process, the inevitability of death, or getting a hangnail. As one writes about the dangers of bath salts, they could be exploring their indecisive nature or their need to rebel against the powers that be. Drug induced Zombies are only the orifice used to arrive at a destination, a place that they may not have even set out to explore.

This whole ramble sounds a bit cheesy right now, but my overall thesis rests in the idea that writers need to be interested in, entranced by, and familiar with their topic. Familiarity can come from research, but either throw experience or Google, they need to understand what they are talking about. Thus they should pick the topics that scare, disgust, or irk the reader, and present them in such a way that the reader will not abjectly run from them, but rather will cling to them in squeamish delight. Entertain, inform, explore—write about Floridians.

Side note: My short piece, "So Much Like You," will appear in the Fall issue of Emerge Literary Journal.  The flash fiction deals with the mental trauma of losing a limb. Another short work, "Cow Dog and Swift" has been accepted by Fiction Southeast for one of their next two issues. 

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