Why I Suck at Writing Fiction

When people learn I like writing, many of them assume I write fiction. But I don’t. I like telling stories, but for some reason I can’t seem to produce fiction. I know, because I’ve tried (and failed miserably, haha).

The only stories I seem to be capable of writing are the ones that have actually happened, so more like biographies or memoirs. But I’m not one of those writers who can take a writing prompt like “Then came the night of the first falling star,” (a line from H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds) and write a full story out of it, with a setting, characters, plot, and all. I’ve heard some of those writers say that they just see a plot forming in their heads, and they follow what the characters that arise do or say. If you’re one of those writers, I salute you. Also, how do you do it?ย ๐Ÿคฃย Do you offer writing workshops to teach nonfiction writers like me? Haha

I think the proclivity towards writing fiction is a gift, much like how some writers are naturally gifted to be adept at the rhythm of poetry. I mean, maybe I could write fiction if I study and practice it, but it would never come out as naturally (or as well-written) as it would for fiction writers.

So in simple terms, I suck at writing fiction because I don’t have the gift for it. For a more complicated version of that, please see the list below.

5 Possible Reasons Why I Suck at Writing Fiction

  1. My mind’s eye is not 20/20. It can’t visualize new worlds or bring scene backdrops into sharp focus.
  2. There are not enough voices in my head (either there are too few of them, or they’re just not talking enough to each otherโ€”in which case, it’s not me who needs a fiction-writing workshop; it’s them who need social skills training).
  3. ย The fiction-writing part of my imagination has been bottled up in a flask somewhere, like a genie.
  4. The characters in my head are strongly introverted, private citizens who make sure they close-lock-bolt the doors behind them when I try to follow them (again, could use some social skills training).
  5. It’s my ears that have a problem. There are voices talking but I don’t hear the dialogue (in which case, take out the tuning fork, please.)

So yeah, there you have itโ€”5 totally plausible reasons why I can’t, and therefore don’t, do fiction. Until such time someone liberates my fiction genie, guess I’ll just stick with writing nonfiction.

Now someone please write a story on how that genie gets out.ย โ™ฃ

This entry is part of my undertaking a 30-day challengeย Matt Cutts talked about at TED2011. The premise is to “think about something you’ve always wanted to add to your lifeย and try it for the next 30 days.” I am challenging myself to post one blog entry a day for 30 consecutive days.ย 

Today is Day 15.

โ€ข About the Authorย โ€ข

35 thoughts on “Why I Suck at Writing Fiction

  1. I’m the exact same way!!! I can’t write fiction at all. It ends up being sooo lame and embarrassing. I had this crazy dream of alien invasion last autumn and when I woke up, I started writing it into a story because it was really interesting. But because the dream itself never went anywhere, I could never write anymore, hahahahaha.
    It was fun for a few hours.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Omg, I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one who has attempted the dream thing! Haha. I’d attempted turning dreams into fiction stories too, and same outcome as yours. Nada. Zilch.

      Guess we’ll just have to leave the fiction-writing to the fiction writers. haha


      • Hahaha I’ve done the dream thing a few times, mostly when I was a young teenager. I’m actually thinking of revisiting alien story… I’ve got some ideas and it might be good for me to write my life experiences/struggles into this fictionalized story. After all, the dreams (esp this one) just mirror what’s actually going on inside of me. I’ve already figured out the “plot” and point of the real life issue I dreamed about, so perhaps I can actually write it into a story now. At least it would be fun. I think… haha

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, they say that great fiction tells the truth about life (there’s a quote about it being a series of lies that tells the truth). That’s the kind of layering I admire that good fiction writers are able to do– like, embed life truths in the plot, so even if everything is made up, it still contains emotional truths, and that is what connects with people.

        Well, I would like to request the privilege of being among the first readers if/when you write that story!


      • Haha alriiiight, someone is already interested in non-existant story!!! Score!!! LOL. Ok, if I actually finish it (or something close to that) and i still remember who you are (cuz it might be 10 years from now haha) then I will let you read it.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I have a neighbor. He reads my fiction and says to me, “I could never come up with stories like this.”

    And I say to him, “They’re everyday stories, stories of people and life and love and murder and mayhem, but with a simple twist or three.”

    > The fiction-writing part of my imagination has been bottled up in a flask somewhere, like a genie.

    So, it’s a flask is it? And a genie waits inside. And this container, it has a color? A size? A history? Maybe it’s scratched just there, where Dasha the beardless thief used it to block that wicked swipe from Uumbar’s deadly scimitar.

    What did Dasha say to Uumbar to make him so angry? Why did Dasha have it in his possession? Did he know the Djinn simmered in frustration just beneath the tarnished metal? “Rub the damn bottle! Free me and I will free you in turn.” And what of that dent on the handle? Why was it not fixed? Dropped from that wild ride atop a fiery black stallion cursed with one white sock and therefore sold as a wagon horse…

    Ask yourself such questions. When you answer them, you’re writing fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow. “Maybe itโ€™s scratched just there, where Dasha the beardless thief used it to block that wicked swipe from Uumbarโ€™s deadly scimitar.” <– See, this is where I lose it; the trail often goes cold before I get to anywhere like this. Or if I do get to it, I forced it out of me, haha. Maybe I just haven't accustomed myself to the asking of questions, as you mentioned. But I am often in awe of writers like you who could let the ideas just flow like that!

      Liked by 1 person

      • There maybe another way to look at this. I don’t want to be here. I’d much rather be riding that white socked black stallion.
        Perhaps you like being here, in your skin, in yourself and your life. Escapism is nothing you value; reality, realism is what you cherish and nurture with your writing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting perspective. “Perhaps you like being here, in your skin, in yourself and your life.” <– not all the time, no. But you're right, I do cherish and wish to nurture realism. Hmmm…maybe THAT is the true reason why I suck at writing fiction. It's a great insight, thank you. I will surely be pondering on it more..

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel like writers are talented at different aspects of writing and part of writing fiction is figuring out what you’re geared towards. Are you great at dialogue? World building? Description? Characterization? Write what you love writing about first. You say you’re better with memoirs, why don’t you try to write a fictional memoir? Invent a story for someone.

    Whenever I’m stuck on coming up with a story, I think about Cujo, by Stephen King.

    “Woman trapped in car by dog.”

    That is the WHOLE plot. He cranked out a whole book out of that one six word sentence. Anytime I worry I can’t come up with stories, I remember Cujo, and I realize, it’s not the story I’m struggling with, it’s the writing (it’s always the writing) ๐Ÿ™‚

    Woman trapped in car by dog.

    Come up with your six words. You can do it! Everyone sucks at everything, before they start their journey towards not sucking at it.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I agree that writers are talented at different aspects of writing, although I ‘ve never thought of using what I’m geared towards as an “in” to fiction-writing. Maybe it’s because I’ve mostly thought of fiction-writing as an all-or-nothing block instead of in portions, as you suggested. I will think about what you said and might try to take it in aspects next time. I appreciate the encouragement, thank you. Thanks also for reading and for sharing your insights! ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. I am just like you! I sometimes can’t even read fiction. Sometimes it seem farce to me. I guess after I hit puberty, that imaginative component in my brain short-circuited itself. Ha Ha Ha.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the list ๐Ÿ˜€
    And your probably like my healing. I went down one road, took a sideways step (because it was time), followed that path, took a sideways step (because it was time), followed this next path etc.
    You are in a learning phase of ‘who you are’…trust it.
    One day you will look back and nod your head in much understanding.
    So at this point, follow your heart, what is attracting you?…and may your pen trip and stumble across your ‘book’ in whatever form it wishes โค ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh thank you so much… I always wondered why fiction is so hard for me and now I know ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ I do take a shot at it from time to time but I always end up throwing up my hands a few hours in and wailing, โ€œWell, what are they supposed to do NOW?โ€ So glad you followed my blog so that I could discover you and follow yours as well. I LOVE your writing and your insights ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure! Thanks for the visit, and for letting me know this post resonated with you.

      Glad to have connected with you! Like you, I write what I feel and I’m also “one of those people who doesnโ€™t really know what she thinks until she writes it down” (I peeked around your About page, hehe). Looking forward to being blog friends! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Funny and honest. Well done. As long as your writing it doesn’t matter what you do. Always key to your strength. On the other hand, if you’d like to learn I’d be happy to help. We all have a book of fiction in us and sometimes all it takes is the right kind of fertilizer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “We all have a book of fiction in us”~ Wow, this is hopeful! Hmm… I will ponder on that. And will reach out to you for help when I think I’ve laid a finger on what that book could be! Thank you so much for reading and for the offer to help, that’s very kind. ๐Ÿ™‚


  8. I’ll try to rub that lamp for you ๐Ÿ˜›

    It seems you’re approaching it deliberately. That only really works when you have a full outline…Patterson style. For me, a book starts with an idea, a singular scene or defining moment that makes everything else fall into place. Once the characters and setting have a bit of weight, they tend to write themselves. The hardest part of a snowman is the base, but once it’s big enough, you just push it gently and it grows.

    All my books started as a short story. The hard part is finding the players and arranging them in a way that makes sense and is believable. After that, they make themselves interesting by being who they are. Just light the fire and blow a little oxygen (because we need more metaphors in this comment, don’t we?)

    I hope that helps a little. I know it’s vague and wordy, but fiction is a much more fluid art than nonfiction, it’s less about the details at first (eventually you wanna fill those in) and more about the big picture. Kind of like sculpting versus photography, if that makes sense.

    Anyway, love the post. Honest, funny, and interesting. Keep it up!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for taking time to rub that lamp, Blu! I appreciate you sharing your wisdom on this.

      You’re absolutely right; the way I write is more deliberate, with an outline and everything. I like being able to know outright where a piece is going, so that I know how to go about it every step of the way. It’s not always possible to do so, of course, even in nonfiction-writing, but it’s vastly more difficult to do so in fiction-writing. I get what you mean about fiction being much more fluid, and I think that’s where I get tripped up. I’m too impatient and want things to make sense right away, haha. I also crave structure and often need things to fit a certain way.

      Thinking about all this now, maybe reading and writing fiction would be a great exercise for me to let loose a bit more and as you said, practice more fluidity in my writing… Thanks again, I think I’m starting to understand more of the real reasons I suck at fiction-writing (haha), and how I could address it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You mentioned two things that will help: reading and writing. Re-read one of your favorite books.

        This time study how the author did it. Use it as a text book. It will help to guide you. While you’re doing that write a short story and see what you can come up with.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Great idea! I think I’ve only mostly paid attention to how authors construct sentences/paragraphs, but have not zoomed out enough to really see the trajectory of story lines. Thank you for the advice! ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Ha, this is hilarious – we come from the same place I see!! Love your blog title, by the way. You’re a great writer I see, and I’ve only read three posts so far!! Thanks for subscribing to my new blog :).

    I’m renewed reading this post – it’s so amusing seeing how this and my (one and only lol) post are about the same sentiment – and look at the vastly different creation we both came up with! I like your #4 – I think they exist and are introverts lol. Well done Mistress!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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