ABCs of Writing Fiction
Section J - L
J – Join a Writer’s Organization. I belong to Romance Writers of America. Thousands of writers have joined forces to share information on the market, promotion, agents, and the craft. We network and make lifelong friends. RWA is considered one of the strongest writing organizations available for writers. Even if the romance in your book is only a subplot, consider joining. Go to http://www.rwanational.org/ for more info. If romance isn’t for you, check out Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, or Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.(Google them for websites) Ask your writing friends which organizations they recommend. If you attend meetings, remember to act professional. This is a business and writing is a small world.
K – Know Your Characters. Some novelists can sit in front of their computer and type their way through a book without any forethought about character or plot. Must be nice. Most of the novelists I’ve met have some understanding of who their hero, heroine, and antagonist are before they begin Chapter One. Some have created checklists they complete before writing. They decide what their character looks like, where they live, what they drive, their greatest fears, what they want out of life, where they’ve been and where they’re headed. I’ll start with a checklist, but as I get to know my character through writing the book, they often develop a different personality. That’s fine as long as you make changes in the first half to reflect this other personality or your heroines will all turn into Sybil (Old Sally Field movie where the woman has multiple personalities.)
I recommend you read Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon. She will help bring life to your characters. I also use The Secret Universe of Names by Roy Feins. I come up with a name for my character that feels right, then look it up in his book. He gives a character sketch to go with the main letters in the name. I think of it as a spring board to jump off of and into the story.
L – Listen to Your Instincts. Writers are readers as well. We know a good story when we read one. Trust the instincts you’ve developed as a reader. When critique partners or contest judges give you feedback, listen to your gut when deciding what you should change. Your instincts will tell you which hooks will be interesting, which conflicts are believable, and which dialogue is stilted. At times, I feel overwhelmed by all of the “don’ts” in writing a good book. So much so, I may avoid my work for a day or two. That’s when I have to remind myself to write the story I love. When I trust my instincts and write what sounds good to me, I usually get positive feedback on the outcome.
Now trust your instincts, and go write.