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Fiction or Nonfiction, Try
Look at your work in a new light.
Have you ever thought of turning your article into a story and your story into an article? This may sound strange but sometimes doing this will make it much more saleable. The process of reversing them is what opens your mind to new avenues.
Recently I lost a sale because the magazine went out of business. Months of waiting to see my story published turned to months of waiting to see if it would make the final issue. It didnít! I couldnít believe such a thing could happen with a signed contract. Iíve found out differently. This has happened to so many of my friends lately itís becoming commonplace.
Just this past week a friend learned that seven sales with signed contracts will most likely be lost because an entire series of magazines are ceasing publication. Another friend lost her first sale even though she was supposed to be paid on acceptance. The magazine waited just long enough so they wouldnít have to pay her, knowing they were being sold.
The writer has little recourse when this happens. You can still count the sale as an acceptance on your cover letter but this is little comfort.
Explore the possibility of change.
This got me thinking, what should I do next? Of course the obvious is to search the markets and start the submission process again. In my case I wasnít so sure I could find another fiction market for my 1200 word mystery. It had been hard to sell the first time. The mystery was about a little boy that moves to a new home with a ďsugar shackĒ in the woods behind the house. In this mystery I give many facts about the process of making maple syrup and the Indian folklore behind it. The more I thought about it I realized I could turn this story into a nonfiction article easily which would give me many more market possibilities. You get more mileage out of your research when you can use it for more than one piece as well.
Have you ever thought of switching a fiction story to nonfiction? How about a nonfiction article to a fiction story? Itís not that hard in either case. Look at it this way; it doubles your writing resources.
I went through and took all the facts from the fiction story and proceeded to write my article. The research had already been done. The article may end up much shorter than the story and much easier to sell.
With fiction stories youíll have to find a subject to research to make into an article. It was obvious with the maple syrup theme but what if it really has no obvious subject to research. Here is an example of what I mean. You have a fiction story about a child at school having a hard time with bullies? Where could you start researching that topic? What about an article on peer pressure or teasing? Take a key word, like bully, and put it in a general search online.
What about the reverse? Where would you start to turn a nonfiction piece into a fiction story?
Take one of your most interesting
articles? Letís say itís an article on bats. You have all the pertinent
information concerning bats and their habitat contained within it. You might
have many facts about the caves the bats live in, their eating habits, etc.
Start with your fictional character entering this cave. Weave the facts of the
article throughout the fiction story and any amount of exciting events will
open up. Perhaps a bat expert stops by to investigate this cave and gets lost
or falls. The ideas are endless but you have doubled your chances of a sale
because now you have a fiction and a nonfiction manuscript for possible
Choose articles with exciting facts or learning possibilities that could tie in with a fiction story. In the reverse choose a fiction story that has the possibility for researching and expanding it to make it nonfiction.
Another possibility that will double your workís potential is to add an article as a sidebar to your fiction story. These two will compliment each other beautifully.
Have you run out of places for your poems? Maybe youíve written a poem about a beautiful spring day in the country. Let the poem inspire a story and add the poem within the story line. We often feel we have to write new stories or articles when we really havenít studied what we already have with an open mind. Itís a tough market out there, getting tougher every day and we need to open our horizons.
I promise, if you start considering switching your fiction and nonfiction ideas will open up.
Christine Collier began her writing career as an "empty nester Mom" after Amy, Adam and Andrew flew the nest. She became a first time grandmother of Emma this past fall.
Collier completed a writing course at the Institute of Children's Literature, and is presently taking the advanced writing course at ICL. She enjoys writing middle grade fiction, especially mysteries. Recently Christine wrote a short adult "cozy" mystery which she enjoyed very much. Her work has appeared in Holidays & Seasonal Celebrations, WeeOnes online children's magazine, Once Upon A Time, and the Institute of Children's Literature.
Collier also writes a chat news column for the newsletter for children's writers, From Dolly's Desk firstname.lastname@example.org telling of sales, markets and good news about her fellow writers. She can be reached at email@example.com