Today’s guest is fantasy author Nicole Singer, who is here to talk about the similarities between writing fiction and writing for her job.
Take it away, Nicole!
Writing for Work & Pleasure
by Nicole Singer
Thanks so much for having me, J.C.!
We were brainstorming topics for this guest post, and J.C. thought it’d be fun to talk about differences between my “work writing” and my “fiction writing.” See, my day job is in PR, so I write for a living in more ways than one.
When I started my blog, a friend asked, “How did you jump from marketing to fiction writing?” I chuckled and told her it was the other way around. Fiction has always been the constant, since I was little. PR seemed like a way to make money and still write every day.
It’s amazing how often my two worlds overlap. I’ve helped clients publish books, one of which is award-winning, and I advised another client against a questionable POD company. I even wrote a year-long comic strip for a hospital. I’m also blessed to interview so many amazing people for the newsletters and magazines I work on—a woman honoring her son who was killed in action; a man who suffered a stroke and had to re-learn everything, including how to talk. I love it!
I’ve learned so much from my job:
- Telling stories: At the end of the day, I’m a storyteller—whether I’m writing my novel or a client’s press release. The plot (facts), conflict (intrigue), and stakes (why people should care) need to be there in an eloquent, understandable way.
- Openings matter: Writing for PR, you need to nail your hook. With attention spans what they are these days, people don’t read past the headline and first couple sentences of any given news story. You’ve got to grab them and bring them into the story, just like we do with the opening of a WIP.
- Being succinct: In PR, you get really good at turning 1,500-word articles into 350-word articles to fit space limits and client requirements. You learn to pick up on common trouble areas that add words without actually adding meaning: had, that, passive voice, etc.
- Finding awesome characters: Remember those cool interviews I mentioned earlier? Well, that’s the kind of material readers love and identify with. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing sidebars for an annual report or writing a fantasy trilogy, great characters always work!
Knowing your reader/audience: This is huge in PR! On any given day, we might be writing for a dozen different audiences, from the public to internal stakeholders, to the media or industry experts. Everyone has their individual backgrounds and preferences, and it’s my job to play to those while still stand out, just like what works for crime fiction, doesn’t always work for YA paranormal or literary. You must know your readers.
- Editing: I’ve built up such a buffer working in PR that I never worry about getting critiqued on my own writing. Clients usually have different opinions about what’s important and how something should be written. Everything we write gets changed multiple times before we send it out. This provides a great perspective for fiction, because it teaches you to listen to the edits and then balance them with what you know the client (or, you, the author) is actually trying to accomplish.
- Deadlines: In PR, we pretty much live on deadlines. On the downside, it means my own writing time outside of work can get squeezed; on the other hand, it’s an excellent teaching tool for being disciplined and cranking out what you need in a flash.
- Mindset: I sort of have to separate my brain into “work writing” and “fun writing.” The energy and passion I put into them are different kinds. There are times I have to be careful not to get exhausted or burned out on “All writing, all the time,” because when I leave work and come home to do what I love … it’s more writing. But my fiction is forever my first love! Despite writing for work, I still need that escape that only fiction can bring. My happiest times are when I’m outlining a new world or discovering new characters.
About the Author
In her younger days, Nicole snuck out of bed far too often to read by the glow of her nightlight. Not much has changed in 20 years, except she’s learned to keep the light on, and her late nights now consist of reading AND writing. Though her short pieces often focus on snapshots of contemporary life, her first love is fantasy.
And here’s some information about Nicole’s latest book:
Running in the Dark
Running in the Dark is a collection of two short stories: the title story, which is a thriller told in second person, and a bonus tale called Being Batman, which tells of a little boy’s struggle to believe in love, family and superheroes again.