the good, the bad, and the ugly about the writing life

Fiction 101: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered—Part 3

Writing fiction is fun, but it’s even better to be teaching it. Here are my last two tips about writing fiction.

4. Plotting can be fun.

Chicago-area published author, Amy Gail Hansen, is doing book signings all over the Chicago-land area for her debut novel, The Butterfly Sister. Next week, she’ll be at Women and Children First in Chicago.

At a recent reading, she mentioned that she uses “what if?” questions to help her think of story ideas. I tell my students the same thing.

Some of the most fun I’ve ever had as a writer is playing “what if?” with my plot.

What if a woman found out that she had just a month to live? Would she do good works or would she even the score with people who were mean to her?

What if mythical creatures such as vampires and werewolves really existed, and everyone knew it? (Think everything from Supernatural and True Blood on TV to the Twilight movies to Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series.)

What if we could communicate with our future selves via email? What would you say to your future self? Would you warn yourself? About what?

You get the idea. It’s fun.

5. In fiction, conflict is good.

My main character, Paulette, has her apartment burned up during my book, Death and the Motherlode, so P has to live with her mother and her step-father, the Swede. Since Paulette thinks her mother could have done better, this situation is fraught with possibilities and conflict. Will Paulette be nice to the Swede to please her mother and keep the peace? Even if she tries, it’s going to be difficult for her to hold her tongue.

See? Fiction gold!

See my earlier tips to newbie fiction writers here: Fiction 101—Part 1 and Fiction 101—Part 2.

Believe me, my students come in seeking RULES to follow to be successful as fiction writers. Sadly, I have none to give. Every rule has been broken time and again by other fiction writers.

Mostly, I just suggest guidelines.

How about you, Fictioneers? What tips would YOU give newbie fiction writers?

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