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Is there a good book to help someone decide what kind of creative writing they are best suited to pursue? (I'm excluding non-fiction, technical writing, journalism and the like.)

For example, whether someone would be better suited to writing short fiction, long fiction or stage, radio, screenplays, comic books, whatever, and what genre of story to write (drama, comedy, crime, sci-fi etc). They could then go and read the books which deal with that specific kind of writing. Doesn't have to be the sole topic of the book - could be just a useful section that deals with this well, within a larger book.

I realise some people are strongly drawn to a particular type of creative writing, but if you are the kind of person that reads and watches widely, the decision is less straightforward.

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  • I don't know of any offhand, but I would try a google-search, either for books or web pages about this.
    – Wyvern123
    Jun 12, 2022 at 19:21
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    I doubt a book will inform you very well in this regard. I think you just have to try writing different things to see what sticks. Most likely you will find you're good at writing what you read a lot of, but...not always. What you're good at writing is largely because of who you are in the most interesting internal ways. And no one can tell you who you are; that's a journey you have to discover for yourself.
    – levininja
    Jun 14, 2022 at 1:48
  • There are many non-book resources available, along the lines of 'styles of creative writing,' 'finding your voice,' 'types of writers,' and so on. The idea of a commercial book saying a person is best suited to one style of writing over another is strange to me. Would you ask a chef to describe the type of food they are best suited to cook? Or, more to the point, would you expect a book to exist that amateur chefs could buy, to decide what type of food they should limit themselves to? Each project is unique. Over time, try them all. Expand your range. Etc. Publishers love versatile writers.
    – SFWriter
    Jun 22, 2022 at 16:16
  • Think of writing like food... how do you figure out what your favorite food is? Good luck! :D Oh and also, try to read something you're interested in... if you like it, chances are higher you'd like to write it, I'd say.
    – Erk
    Jun 25, 2022 at 2:02

3 Answers 3

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Not that I know of. The answer is relatively simple; you are probably best suited to read the type of fiction you like the most, or fiction in a field you know the most about.

For example, some fantastic "lawyer fiction" was written by lawyers. Some great "medical fiction" is written by doctors.

Your experience in a field can make the fictional aspect, even if it is fantastical fiction (like "The Devil's Advocate"), seem compelling. We've seen fictional murder trials, defenses, and lawsuits that seem quite real.

They say "write what you know", but that doesn't have to mean writing about your profession.

My profession is highly technical, but I write low fantasy fiction, as my weekend escape from my job. I do know this field quite well, because for many years it was all I read. And being the analytic sort, I saw better ways to do stuff and justify it, and I've employed them to write some of my own stories.

(You don't want to be derivative of some other author; You don't want agents to think you are imitating somebody else.)

It may be hard at first to NOT be derivative, but that is what your creativity is for.

Write the kind of fiction that appeals to you as a reader, or the kind of fiction that requires your professional expertise. Those two are also the kind of fiction you are best qualified to judge.

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I doubt there is a book like you are looking for. Maybe you will write it.

If you are looking for where to start learning how to write stories, that is a very different question. There are two broad topics to learn: craft and storytelling. These are my mental models and aren't broadly used breakdowns.

Craft includes setting, word-building, dialog, character development, and other things. It covers the topics that go into making compelling and interesting scenes and narratives. There are lots of books on any one of these topics. There are also lots of online pages that provide guidance and exercises -- for free and for money. Most of these skills are widely applicable to all mediums -- short story, screenplay, novel, and playwriting (though different mediums weigh the importance of the skills differently)

Storytelling covers the construction and design of a story, including structure, techniques for creating tension, and plot. The skills of storytelling are widely applicable to all mediums since they are all involved in relating a story to someone in a way that holds the interest of their subjects. Again, lots of books on storytelling out there: some are kind of cookbook-like and others are more philosophical.

As a general rule, the shorter a piece the harder it is to write well. Short Stories are much harder to write than longer pieces and flash fiction are harder to write than short stories.

Most people I know that write start somewhere and fish around for what they enjoy the most. Myself, I started writing short stories and now I'm working on a novel. I never sold any short stories, but I learned a lot about structure and writing gripping sentences along the way. That was my path. You'll make your own.

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Many books on writing, creative writing included, will open you up to various and different ways of writing, which will help you to discover your natural leaning. My suggestion is to read a cross-section of literature and books on writing. As you continue your writing journey you will recognise/know what your creative style/voice etc is.

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