This post will be the first installment in a series of topics I’m planning to cover while I’m pregnant, waiting for the arrival of my new novel. Once you’ve had the opportunity to get to know me a little better, I plan to switch the spot-light from me to you – the reader. One of my passionate desires that truly motivates me to write is to be able to offer some assistance to my readers in getting to know the real “you”. Would you like to meet yourself in a very real and meaningful way? I believe knowing the “authentic you” is absolutely essential to living a peaceful, productive life. Just climb onboard and let’s see what happens … okay?
Now that production has begun on publishing my second novel, Murder on Murder Creek Road, I’d like to share some insider information concerning the way I’ve learned to write fiction.
Since the release of my first novel, All Rise, several individuals have asked me, “How did you learn to write?” I told them, “I learned to write by reading a lot.”
That’s the simple truth. I was an avid reader as a child. I used to look forward to Saturdays when I could walk to the local library and check out as many books as they allowed. During the week I would read all of them and return to the library the next Saturday to check out more.
As an adult, I continued to read as often as time allowed. I can remember sitting on the sofa beside my husband. As he watched football, I’d bury my face in a novel. He’d look over at me and shake his head with a disapproving expression on his face. I’d look back at him and say, “What? You know I don’t care about football.” He’d shake his head again and return to watching the game.
I always loved mysteries. I relish the opportunity of trying to figure out who committed the crime and how the perpetrator did it before the author reveals the answer to the mystery.
A little later in my adulthood, I began to realize that I had some serious emotional issues from childhood that I had never learned to deal with in a healthy way. This “unfinished business” from childhood had caused serious cracks in the foundation of my adult psyche. As a result of this revelation, I stopped reading fiction for entertainment and began to read psychological self-help books. I devoured these enlightening books with the same vigor as I had previously displayed for fiction.
After many years of voracious reading to learn how to help myself with my emotional “demons”, I began to reach out to other hurting people around me with what I had learned. I began to write letters to a small circle of friends. Through their encouragement, these letters – originally directed to intimate friends – turned into a series of “newsletters” that were mailed out once a month to a distribution list of about twenty-five individuals. This series continued for approximately two years.
During this time, I often used symbolic stories that I had made up to try to emphasize the point of that particular issue. While the story was fictional, the emotional issue being addressed and the characters were real. Usually, the primary character of the symbolic fictional story was myself. Naturally, I felt free to tell tales on myself, but not on others.
Many recipients of these newsletters began to tell me that I should consider writing a book. Once my husband adamantly encouraged me to write a novel, I began to take the suggestion quite seriously. After careful consideration, the decision was made fairly quickly. Why not?, I thought. I would give it a try!
Almost immediately after making the decision, I felt inspired with specific ideas for the details of the plot. As I began to put my thoughts on paper, my two passions – fictional crime mysteries and self-help tips – seemed to seamlessly merge together to become my writing style. My crime-mystery storyline was purely fictional. But, with expressed permission from the individuals involved, most of my characters were real people in my life. I used their first name and applied their personalities to the fictional character in the story. The female main character bears lots of emotional baggage, which is dealt with throughout the plot. Thus enabling me to share some useful information regarding “childhood wounds” with the reader.
Poof! My style was born.
As my husband was reading my manuscript recently for Murder on Murder Creek Road, I jokingly told him that I was hoping to create a new genre. “What kind of new genre?”, he asked. I told him, “Self-help Fiction!” His reaction reminded me of the old days sitting next to him on the sofa while he watched football and I read a mystery novel. He shook his head a little and returned his attention to the manuscript.
While I love a good mystery, I can’t seem to stop myself from adding a little extra value, if you will, to the story I create. While I was visiting an author’s website recently, I came across a checklist for good fiction writing from a famous 20th Century American Novelist, Kurt Vonnegut. His checklist was titled “8 Rules for Writing Fiction”. The first rule was, “Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.”
I instantly felt vindicated when I read Vonnegut’s first rule because that’s exactly what I hope to do. I’d like nothing better than for my mystery-lovers to be thoroughly entertained by a good ole “who dun it”. And, perhaps they may take away a little something that might prove to be helpful to the reader or to someone close to them.
Is that such a bad idea? I sure hope not. I look forward to meeting you here again real soon.