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10 Tips on Writing Fiction

While I’m on the subject of writing today, here’s an excellent list of things to remember when writing fiction. Enjoy!

Valerie Thomas, Author

Disclaimer: I am completely unqualified to write this. Under my own name, I’ve written one flash fiction and one novel (that isn’t even out yet). That being said, here are my own ten rules for writing (plus one bonus rule).

  1. Your first draft is never good. “But, what if—?” No, it’s not. I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to edit.
  2. For every writing “rule” that’s been concocted, there is a successful author who violated it. This does not mean that author is you, and you would do well to heed those rules anyway.
  3. The value of words is extrinsic. Unless they tell an interesting story or make a good point, no one will care.
  4. Write the genres and subjects you enjoy reading, because a lot of the time you will be the only audience to your work. Also, if you don’t enjoy what you’re writing, odds are that will…

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How far would YOU go?

Since I’m hip deep into the novels today (and by hip deep I mean I’m trying to stick to my laptop rather than run to the kitchen every half an hour to grab a snack that will inevitably go straight to my hips) there are a few issues on my mind that need a little sharing. Foremost at the moment is research.

I’m discovering that there is only so much that can be done whilst sitting on my rear end in front of the computer. Wikipedia is great, but sometimes you just have to get out there and see what’s going on in person. To this end I’ve spent a fair bit of time in the city where most of my novel takes place, which is as you probably know, Kingston, Ontario.

There are some things I am having a more difficult time researching, however. My story is about stage magician, Stephen Dagmar–meaning that apart from the novel’s main plot, which is a paranormal romance/horror about a man who must battle against a family curse in order to live happily ever after with the woman he loves, it also contains the stage. And a talent agent. And, most difficult to research in person, the backstage areas of some major venues across Canada. I’m thinking that before I actually publish this thing I’m going to have to find a way to talk to/interview both a magician and an agent. But getting backstage might be a different story.

If there are any magicians or talent agents reading this, I’d love to talk to you. If there is anyone who has access to a live theatre I’d be forever grateful if you’d leave some tips on how to get backstage. I’m not looking to meet celebrities, I just want to see where they hang out and get a feel for the process of setting up a stage.

For everyone else reading this, how far have you gone to get research? I’m not only talking distance. Would you have the guts to try to get into places the public doesn’t normally get to go? To what lengths would you go to get there?

Suggestions are also gratefully received. 😀


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The Editing Process

It occurred to me this morning as I was working on what will probably be the second-last edit of my novel The Great Dagmaru, that editing is an inherently ugly process. When I read my novel as a whole, it’s like taking in a picturesque landscape, with rolling hills, still lakes and vividly coloured birds, twittering and flitting from branch to branch.

But as I edit it, sentence by sentence, all I can see are the caterpillars, munching on the leaves and weaving themselves gauzy tents where they squirm like maggots. My job, of course, is to get them outta there looking like pretty butterflies.

It’s easy to get discouraged when I’m gazing at my work under a microscope. I agonize over single words; I look at them sometimes until they cease to have meaning. I forget how phrases go together in natural speech because I’ve contemplated them for too long. Thankfully this only happens occasionally. There are also parts which I can read through and not want to change a thing, except to delete a word here and there.

Today, however, the ants are crawling with the spiders and the worms are aerating the ground to allow for new growth. And I’m seeking oxygen to keep going.