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WRITING SOMETHING OUT OF YOUR NORM

September 8, 2021

            For many of us, we have a certain genre, or style we’re used to when we write.

            For some, we’re all over the place, especially starting out.

            For others, there IS not one set style. This probably isn’t for you.

THE NORM

            Let’s consider the average writer, someone who’s been at this for at least a few years.

            You’ve been busy working on a (or a series) of novels. More than likely, you’re used to writing a certain way. In other words, you’ve developed a style, so you’re used to writing to that norm. Maybe you’re diversified and also write other things on the side. Is that writing out of your norm? Maybe.

            You’re a busy writer. You write both novels and short stories. They’re both fictional. You write both in either third or maybe even first person. You may use past or present tense as your go-to style as well.

            You could be a non-fiction writer. Your books may be historical, technical or scientific. The same for your short stories.

            You may be writing nothing but memoirs as your forte.

WHEN YOU VEER OFF YOUR NORM

            This is where you mix things up.

            Let’s take my case.

            In fiction, I cannot stand to read first-person. However, when it comes to autobiographical writing, I write first-person. Why? Because I’m writing it from my own myopic perspective. It happened to me, it’s from my point of view.

            I’ve stated over and over again here at Fred Central that I’ll never publish my memoir, at least as a book. That doesn’t prevent me from doing the occasional short story. In fact, I’ve published quite a few.

            Does the transition from third to first cause an issue with me?

            In a word, no.

            Since it’s my perspective, myopic or otherwise, it’s easy. I have no trouble with either the perspective, the pronouns or any other part of the story. The key is that it’s SHORT. I’m quite capable of creating a short…as in a chapter-length-short-enough story to maybe hold a person’s interest. However, in my case, since I don’t have a compelling life story and am not a celebrity, I don’t have enough to keep that going to justify an entire novel-length tome.

            I even once wrote a very short, as in one-page, fictional story using present-tense. The reason I did it was to throw people off, them all knowing how much I hate present-tense. I pulled it off and nobody guessed it was me. I eventually turned it into a regular past-tense story.

            I went out of my norm to write something else.

            Seeing as how I’ve been at this twenty-six years, plus I was a technical writer for a decade, I have the chops to pull this off, at least I hope so!

            For you to do the same, it all depends.

            If you’re relatively new to writing, and are still experimenting around, maybe you’re already all over the place. You may already do all of this in a single book, given a few I’ve read, or tried to read recently. On the other hand, maybe you DO stick to one style, but are stumped when you want to try something out of your norm.

            What do you do?

FOR MOST PEOPLE

            For most writers, switching out of the norm isn’t going to be rocket science. Maybe you’ll stumble a bit. Then again, when you try a style you’re not comfortable with, you may end up with a huge mess. It could be that going out of your norm is just not right for you. Then again, maybe it’s all mental and these roadblocks are artificial.

            Why are you writing out of the norm in the first place?

            Do you want to try something new?

            Do you want to try a novel instead of short stories? How about short stories instead of a novel?

            Do you want to try first-person instead of third? Present instead of past? Past instead of present?

            Do you want to do non-fiction instead of fiction?

            Do you want to switch genres?

            All of these things can be done, but maybe they’re not meant to be. Then again, as you gain your chops as a writer, you SHOULD be able to do any of them if you set your mind to it. I know I can. It’s just a matter of wanting to or needing to. In my case, I know what I like and what I know works for me. I’ve been at this a long time and know what works best not only for me, but for my audience and for a lot of other people, regardless of genre.

            While I can maybe go places others can’t, at least as easily, I choose not to.

            You, maybe starting out, or as seasoned as I am, can make your own choices and do what you want. You can go out of the norm and not be traumatized by it.

            Now, why am I bringing this up?

            Right now, I’m writing an autobiographical story for an anthology. It’s in first-person. You’ll NEVER find me doing that with any of my fictional stories. It’s out of my norm, per se, but when I think about it, for short stories, especially given what I’ve had published, I guess it IS the norm.

            Okay, you will NEVER find me writing another present-tense story of ANY kind! I’ve been outed already so they’ve got my number on that one!

            Happy writing!

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