Tag Archives | Writing fiction

Fiction or Non-fiction?

Recently I was at a conference where I met with a writer who was working on a non-fiction memoir. It needed work, but it was viable, I thought. Imagine my surprise when we met again and he told me he had been advised by two others (faculty members at this conference) to write it as a novel, not as a non-fiction book. He scrapped the memoir and began his fact-based novel. I think he was given bad advice. I’m assuming the other two faculty members believe that if you can write non-fiction, you can write fiction just as well. I disagree. Fiction and non-fiction are not the same and, in my opinion, take a different set of talents. Yes, there’s some overlapping. Some fiction techniques are useful in writing non-fiction and vice versa. But few authors succeed at both fiction and non-fiction. The stumbling block as I see it is that turning a […]

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Pantsers, Plotters…and Flashers

I’ve previously mentioned pantsers and plotters as two commonly known ways of writing a novel. Plotters are those who outline their novel ahead of time and pretty much stick to the outline (with some bunny trails and replotting allowed). Pantsers are those who write by the seat of their pants, abhorring the idea of knowing what comes next in their story. Like the reader, they want to be surprised at what happens when they turn the page. Today, I’d like to propose a third option. That third option is what I’ll call the flashers. (Don’t worry…I’m not going there). I bring this up because I’m somewhat of a flasher myself. A flasher is one who, after a reasonable time of brooding over his novel (read my blog on brooding here), begins to see flashes of his novel, not necessarily in chronological (or any) order. As an example, for some time […]

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Beverly Cleary

Tomorrow night our book group will be discussing A Girl From Yamhill by Beverly Cleary. It’s the first of her two memoirs and has added appeal for us Oregonians because the book takes place in and around Portland (two hours north of us here in Eugene). When I was growing up, I didn’t read Beverly Cleary’s extremely popular books. Mostly my nose was in Hardy boy books and Mad Magazine at that age. Even so, I’m really enjoying the book and will likely turn next to a couple of her better known children’s books, probably Ramona the Pest and Ribsy (unless you have a better recommendation). I’m not quite finished with A Girl From Yamhill. But I just came to the place where her teacher had the class line up in alphabetical order as if they were books on a shelf. Beverly laments: After that, I found a place on […]

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Toni Morrison

I apologize for the absence in blogging. I was away at a really fine writer’s conference and came back to a manuscript I was editing that was facing a quick deadline. In fact, I’m still busy enough that today’s blog will be short, but hopefully meaningful. (And to my FB friends, this is not the rant. Sorry Patrick). In this week’s Publisher’s Weekly, there’s a brief interview with Toni Morrison. A couple of her answers to PW’s questions jumped out at me as important points for every writer to remember, so I offer them with hopes they will help. They are applicable to writers of both fiction and non-fiction. The first point is found in Ms. Morrison’s statement, “I know what to leave out—which is the most important thing. It’s not what you put in, it’s what you don’t say that makes a powerful difference.” That confirms what my artist […]

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