The first month of 2016 is nearing its close. The New Year’s resolution to write seriously is losing some of its glitter as you face the task of actually putting words on the computer screen (paper being so 20th century). Friends and family are starting to nag or, worse, snigger. You have to produce something, if only for your self-esteem.
Yet, your story, the one that seemed so compelling when first conceived, isn’t working.
A word of advice? Write what you love. Weave a story around your passions, whether those passions are high tech or fly-fishing, the coziness of family or the adventures in the high peaks.
When you write about things you love doing or being somehow involved with, it shows. Your writing and story-telling are more vibrant. Readers will notice, and the supremely difficult task of finding and building an audience will be just a little bit easier.
Writing about things you love also makes the research more enjoyable and, frankly, reduces the time spent looking up details. I think of writing as a way to learn. If you’re learning more about something you already love, so much the better!
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I have to love Richard Castle. This fictional author on the TV drama Castle knows everybody. He’s rubbed shoulders with the leaders of the day and – more fun – with experts in specific areas. Mafia bosses, CIA spooks and even the nameless bureaucrats who know where the paper trail leads have all shared their knowledge of their own special worlds with this writer.
And, he has a number of top-selling books out. For real. Just check Amazon or other bookstores.
Is fiction writing really like this? It can be. The words, “I’m writing a novel and I need your expertise,” can open doors. So can real-world career conversations that sometimes inform writers’ fiction. For example, the conversations I’ve had about renewable energy with experts for my day job as a journalist informed the wind farm discussion in my Glenhoolie series, “The Winds of Glenhoolie.” (I’m finishing the third book in the series now and plan to send it to editing over the summer.)
Read the acknowledgements of your favorite books. You’ll see what I’m talking about. Diana Gabaldon, for example, routinely thanks a series of people for helping with the Gaelic to researching 18th century Scottish customs, superstitions and herbal medicines for her best-selling Outlander series. She’s not alone by any stretch of the imagination.
Writers write what we know, and good writers research what we don’t know, to make our books as accurate as possible. That research, after all, is how Castle ended up consulting for the NYPD.
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In the hit TV drama Castle, crime writer Richard Castle is wealthy, living a glamorous
“It’s warm and I have a purr-fect view from here.”
life of book signings with adoring fans crowding the aisles. He plays poker with other best-selling authors and is friends with the mayor. By day he shadows a beautiful, street-savvy New York City cop – now his wife – and helps her solve murders. We rarely see him writing.
The fact is that, while writers do talk with and sometimes shadow other professionals… mainly, writers write. It’s not visually exciting. Our characters may be frolicking in the Caribbean, or attending a New Year’s ball in Vienna, but we are usually sitting in a chair, facing a computer screen, fingers on the keyboard.
Exercise often constitutes moving our cat off our laptop (it’s his favorite perch)…but we have strong, well-exercised fingers.
To read more about the writing life and what women’s fiction author Gail Harkins is up to, sign up for her newsletter. click: http://eepurl.com/bGj3Vv