7 Personalities of the Fiction Writer

Do you ever wonder how a writer settles upon their niche? Sure, there are prolific writers who dabble in genres ranging from mystery to adventure and romance, but there is always that one genre which they are most comfortable writing.

How did Stephen King decide supernatural horror was his thing? Yet he wrote The Shawshank Redemption; one of the best dramas ever made into film.

Sometimes, I imagine writers try everything before making a final choice. Quite like the early men- how many animals do you reckon they mounted before deciding horses (and a few others) were cool with it? Doesn’t it make you feel sorry for those who tried to start with sabretooth tigers?

In J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series, a Sorting Hat magically determines which of the four school houses a new student must belong to. Now if only it were that easy for writers.

Personally, I think every writer’s style and choice of genre stems from their writing personality. From the impulsively fast writers to the calculative slow ones, there’s a category for everyone.

Here’s my take on 7 common personalities of the fiction writer:

1. The Turtle

These writers almost take forever to finish their work. If they had an association, their mantra would be “slow and steady wins the race”, or “quality over quantity”. They are the kids -back in primary school- who were already reading fat novels while the rest of us were still poring through picture story books. Don’t underestimate them though, their books are long and well-detailed bestsellers. If you don’t believe me, ask George R.R. Martin.

2. The Shiny Idea Chaser

Interesting set of writers; always brimming with ideas each time you see them, but they hardly finish any. However, when they do, it is usually world class. They find inspiration in little things, including the way you say ménage a trois. Yep, a seductive French character coming up. Their Pinterest board is a colourful array of images, and their wall is a tidy mess of post-it notes. For them, it’s so many ideas, so little time.

3. The Deep Plotter

Do you have any favourite crime or detective book authors? They are deep plotters. A classic example would be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. If they could draw a blueprint for the plot of their upcoming novel, it would look no different from the London Underground schematics. They are those writers at a Writers’ Convention who spend a lot of time in deep thought, hardly contributing to discussions. Don’t worry, their next novel is dynamite.

4. The Speed Racer

Well, hello Flash. The speed racer is the exact opposite of the Turtle (perhaps I should have named them The Hare? No, too cliché). They can wow their publisher with 10,000 words in one day, and suddenly go into oblivion for the next few weeks. Their creative inspiration like a spurting faucet, comes in bursts. They need to get it out before the next phase of literary drought. You can often hear them clacking loudly at their laptops in the dead of the night.

5. The NaNoWrimoer

Good luck pronouncing that. The NaNos are at their best under deadlines and with a loud cheering squad. These writers can write whole books in the centre of Oxford Street, oblivious to the tooting horns and melee of pedestrians. While you set off on your writing project weeks early, they wait until the last few hours and take it in stride. Like Aaron Sorkin, they are the TV screenwriters we have come to love.

6. The Literary Axe-Murderer

We all know one. If you have invested some time in Shondaland shows, you will have had your heart broken a number of times. Shonda Rhimes is definitely a literary axe-murderer. George R.R. Martin is another perfect example. The “Red Wedding” in Game of Thrones was absolutely murderous. It is almost as if the literary axe-murderer delights in killing off their characters by the hundreds. They play god. Sometimes, you have to remind them that life is tough enough, and people turn to stories for relief. Not that they care anyway.

7. The Secretest

The secretest will almost scare you with their secrecy. Ask them what they are writing about and they will tell you to be patient. “In due time, my friend…in due time”, they always say. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell they are writers any more. The secretest can get so caught up in their own conspiracy, they hide an ending from their publishers until the last minute. Some even leave you hanging with the unknown fate of a beloved character. Chimamanda Adichie still hasn’t told us what happened to Kainene…

But when all’s said and done, their books are worth the wait.

Did you recognise any of your favourite authors? I am not so sure where I fall into. Like many writers, I think I’m a catastrophic mix of different personalities.

Notwithstanding, writers make our day a bit better. Through an ethereal world of heroes, villains and hope, we find the succour to traverse this sometimes abstruse world we call our reality.