About Writing, Life and Writing About Life

Archive for the ‘On Writing’ Category

What is Genre and Why Does it Matter?

I am a newcomer to writing fiction, as my first two books have been non-fiction – one about how life is affected by a friend or family member’s cancer, the other on what it might be like to Be An Author. So when I was asked to label the genre of one of my flash fiction stories I was a bit nonplussed.
Always one to rise to a challenge, I decided it was time to fill in the gaps in my knowledge and find out more.
For the purposes of this post, I will be looking at genre as it relates to fiction. Looking online results in a bewilderingly long list of potential fiction genres, but as far as I can see the main ones are: (more…)

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Family History – Curiouser and Curiouser

I’ve been doing some research for the novel I plan to get to one day, which is based on the life of one of my husband’s family, who was transported to Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) in 1852. I’ve been thinking of it as a rags-to-riches story, and recognising that I will never be able to know everything about her life so I will fill in the blanks with my imagination. (more…)

Making Some Progress

I decided this week that it was about time that I returned to making some progress on my next book. Today I managed to remind myself of the thoughts I have had so far regarding the book structure, and put them together in a mind map. It is now my intention to look at each of the topics in more detail, one day at a time, then add the points into the mind map. (more…)

Lessons In Fiction – In Media Res & Backstory

Last week I was thinking about what I needed to learn in terms of writing fiction. The first one I want to talk about is In Media Res, which literally translates as ‘Into the Middle of Affairs’. This is all about where the story starts, and involves jumping right into the middle of the action, then usually telling the beginning of the story in one or more flashbacks. This is a very common technique in movies, for instance. (more…)

Lessons in Fiction – Where to Start?

I didn’t quite get to do my usual Tuesday post about writing in some shape or form. So slightly delayed, here it is today. This is also slightly momentous in a ‘that’s interesting to me, but probably no-one else cares at all’ way as it will be my 100th post on this blog. Things have changed quite a bit since I started working on my third book as I started this blog a few months ago. (more…)

On Writing – Research is Progress Too

I’ve been a bit frustrated with my writing lately, as all my focussed writing time (of which there is not a huge amount available at the best of times) has been taken up with sorting out my self-publishing download. As I get to the stage of handing that over to other people for some editing, I am getting ready to move on to the next project (more…)

Fiction Writing – Is Shorter Better?

Today’s post is not me telling you about something I know (or think I do), it is me asking a genuine question. This comes out of my Friday Fictioneers stpry last Friday, where one of the lovely group of participants went to the trouble of telling me how my story could be made shorter. The trouble is, I don’t know why.
My story was not over the 100-word suggested length for the group. In fact my first draft was 79 words long and I chose to add more in. As you may know, I’m new to fiction writing, so everything I try is new for me. In this story, I was trying out building tension by using short sentences. Did it work? At least a little bit, based on the comments I had. Did I overdo it? Maybe. I don’t, at a the moment, accept that Rich’s amendments make a story which reads better. But I’d love to hear what anyone else thinks. If you pop over to the post you could let me know if you prefer my version or Rich’s, and if you say why then that will help me even more.
So the question is, when you are editing a piece of fiction you have written, should you be aiming to make it shorter or not? I had a little dig around the internet – very briefly – and came up with what seems like a wonderful resource for self-editing fiction. I haven’t had time to read and take in the whole thing, but on the surface it doesn’t seem to make brevity one of the aims for editing. On the other hand, in my book Be An Author, in answering the question ‘How do you decide what to put in a book and what to leave out?” Sallyann Sheridan said “Every word has to earn its living,” which implies that shorter may be better. I also know that there are some books where you finish them and think ‘That was great, but it could have been told in half the length.’
Please weigh in with your opinion. I won’t be editing a full-length piece of fiction for a while, but I would like to be able to apply this to my Friday stories. To be fair, I usually do have too many words and am editing to get the story down to 100, so this week was an exception. Now it’s over to you – I’m waiting for your input and opinions.