Friday, February 10, 2012

Putting Nonfiction Tools into Fiction Practice

When the Carny Comes to Town, the third book in the Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series, will be out at the end of February as an e-book and paperback.  As I revised (and revised) it struck me that I was using the techniques discussed in my book Words to Write By: Getting Your Thoughts on Paper.  

I started with an idea for the opening scene and a sense of where I wanted to go and then made lists.  Lists of characters, places, good guys, bad guys, and whatever else I could think of.  As I developed the plot I would return to those lists and think about how the characters would handle the various situations.  A lot of things on the lists were crossed off, others were added.

Words to Write By is geared to nonfiction, but a reviewer noted it could apply to stories, and added, "The [writer's] words come out in a jumble, ideas are repeated or lost... you just can't seem to figure out how to even organize what you want to say. The author breaks down the writing process into simple steps, from gathering ideas and information to giving your writing its final polish on the way out to the Real World."

I always appreciate a positive review, but they're even more fun to read when you think the reviewer "gets" what you wanted to say.  When you put your ideas on paper, you start to see common themes.  Those themes can coalesce into a story, fiction or nonfiction.

As I put the finishing touches on When the Carny Comes to Town those lists are still at the top of my folder, and those techniques for writing nonfiction continue to be useful tools. 

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