Are you thinking of writing your first novel or have you started writing but need that bit of inspiration to help you complete your first manuscript? In this article, John Hancock, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Author of several academic textbooks in Molecular Biology and Cell Signalling shares his experience of writing fiction. John also shares some advice for prospective authors on taking the plunge into writing that first novel. Enjoy!
Writing is both fun and escapism. Having written quite a lot of non-fiction having the chance to write a story is refreshing. There is no right or wrong way to do fiction, by which I mean you can write about anything as long as it, hopefully, comes across as engaging and enjoyable.
Like most authors I have written quite a few stories over the years but they end up in the bottom of a recycle bin. However, with the advent of Kindle Direct Publishing there is now the opportunity of allowing a wide audience to read your work. Without sounding like an advert, it is easy to use, as is the sister system through which you can create a hard copy.
But before all this you need inspiration.
About My Books
The first book which I released, Grass, was based on an idea which sprang to me on the way to work. The local country house was home to an old man who let the estate deteriorate. I started to wonder what would happen if he was to take someone under his wing, to perhaps give his life new purpose, and a story started to emerge.
The second book, Zoneless, is of the science fiction genre. It seemed to me that the book should dictate its own genre, rather than trying to force an idea into a particular type of book. Here, the idea of world change made me begin to wonder how sustainable some areas of the planet may be, and if there were regions that humans would have to eventually abandon. If that was indeed the case, what would happen if someone ended up in such as area by accident? The idea of being zoneless was born.
Authoring inevitably draws on things that are familiar to you and one of the greatest influences may come from your day job.
In my work as a biochemist I use all manner of strange chemicals. A range of compounds that we use are designed to get into cells and stay there. And so the idea of The Story Is On Me started to emerge. Could the same chemistry be used for tattooing? In the book Paul wakes up on a park bench and soon discovers that his arm is covered in writing. It is a story, and one which involves his past. He realises two things. Firstly, the story is not complete and secondly, someone is seeking revenge. Here the book would be classed as a thriller, certainly not science fiction as Zoneless would be. Again, the genre dictated the type of book.
For Prospective Authors…
Not sticking to a particular audience allows better creativity I hope, but best to let the readers judge that. It does mean that readers of one book may be disappointed in another, but for me, I write mainly for myself, not for a select group of people.
If you have ever thought or considered writing, I would recommend that you do it. Once you have completed a project you can look back and be proud of what you have achieved. If the thought of writing a novel terrifies you then try a short story!
Personally I would not worry about the genre, unless there is one you are particularly keen on – fantasy seems popular at the moment. What matters is that you have a good story which holds together until the end. Try to add some good characters and most importantly, enjoy the experience. It is hard work. Editing and correcting mistakes is frustrating – I create numerous typos when I write – so it has to be something you positively wish to do. If it becomes a chore then stop. On the other hand, if you have lost yourself in a good story just keep enjoying yourself to the end.
Writing is not always a lone journey…
Before I conclude I must thank others who have helped and encouraged me. Dr Chris Moore (author of Secret of the Nexus) was the reason I started being brave enough to let others read my work. Thomas Hancock (author of Deity’s Dawn) has edited all my books and supplied me with book covers, while other friends and colleagues have also been encouraging and helpful – huge thanks to all of you.
My next book is different again. I am penning the History of Time Travel. I started this article by saying you can write anything. This book is the history of something that does not exist, but then again this is fiction. It is supposed to be engaging and fun!
About the Author: John T. Hancock is an Associate Professor in Molecular Biology – teaching and carrying out research at a UK university. He has authored two science textbooks and three fiction novels. He lives near Bristol, UK with his wife and family.
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