I know what you're thinking -research for fiction? But it's made up!
Well, yes some of it is, but in some cases (like mine) authors draw on factual experiences, history, or use some bit of real information as a springboard to write their book.
I started with a vague idea of what I wanted to write about, a story about two women. These weren't ordinary women, they were single, they were moms, and they were witches. I wove Southern history into my story as I wrote and included many other realistic bits and pieces into my story.
This, of course, required research. While I put my own spin on just about everything, I wanted to ensure that there were still real facts to help the not-so-real part seem convincing - does that make sense??
I was lucky enough to attend a conference about putting the science in science fiction. These authors really did their research! Speaking to NASA and chemists about "what-ifs" and "why would it??" THAT made good fiction!
In my book, there are loads of historical facts and what some may consider benign information - but it all required research. The fun part is what you get to do with it. The hard part is making sure it makes sense to someone who is a specialist on the topic!
Witches for instance. What kind? Real faith based Wiccans or totally made up movie type ones? I chose Wiccan. For me, it made it more realistic. I certainly wouldn't want to offend anyone, so I did a ton of reading and have some suggested authors below.
Another topic for research was bees. I researched how mead was made, how beeswax was removed from hives, how a beekeeper would dress, and so on. What they do with it all was up to me, but I wouldn't dare make up something about beekeeping and have a reader call me out on it!
So there you have it. If you plan on writing any sort of fiction, make sure you do your research!!
Wiccan Reading Suggestions:
Kate West: "The Real Witches Handbook"
Ellen Dugan: "7 Days of Magic: Spells, Charms & Correspondences for the Bewitching Week"
"Garden Witchery: Magick from the Ground Up"
Scott Cunningham: "The Truth about Witchcraft Today"
" Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs"
Dorothy Morrison: "Bud, Blossom and Leaf: The Magical Herb Gardener's Handbook"
Silver RavenWolf: "HedgeWitch: Spells, Crafts & Rituals for Natural Magick"
I have read a lot about writing, not just for myself, but for a creative writing class that I teach from time-to-time. I enjoy writing so much, it is like therapy. Fiction, for me, is a wonderful thing. It can be whatever you want! A different world, super powers, falling in love with the perfect person - whomever that may be. There is so much freedom in writing fiction!
When I first started writing my book, I had a very small story in mind. I knew who the characters were and what was going to happen - sort of. It wasn't until I sat down and gave my self permission to let go and write whatever I wanted that I had an actual story.
Fiction, while freeing to write, still needs to make sense in your world. I was told this by an editor at a publishing company that was considering my book. The protagonist (main character) still needs a goal and motivation. There needs to be conflict, or there is no reason for the reader to continue the story. If the reader is not invested in the main character and their "quest", they won't want to read on.
Think about Harry Potter. It is a whole new world with mythical creatures, games, food, and every minute detail you can imagine. The best part? It is all made up! BUT, it is believable. There is plenty of conflict, there is a hero and a villain, there are goals and motivation. Without these parts of a story, your main character is just milling about aimlessly. It's no fun when a character gets everything they want, it makes for a very brief and boring story.
Some Tips on Creating Characters:
Change is important: the character's change in attitude, motivation, goals, the "WHY" are they doing that?
Growth throughout the book. Fiction writing is about change.
Drive: Characters want to be happy, but how will they get there? What are they on a search for? Love? Money? Freedom? Power? What is motivating them? They need to care about something and need a reason not to give up.
Character's goals: Main goal is what drives the story, win the guy, get the job, solve the crime, etc.
Then there are minor goals are throughout the story, the smaller goals that get to the main goal: woo the guy, interview for the job, get the clues.
Character Profile/Bio: What do they look like? How old are they? Do they have habits? What do they do for a living? Where do they live? Are they single? Have kids? Religious? If you were to look in their refrigerator right now, what's in it? Organic eggs and four bottles of wine or leftover Chinese food and condiments? What does your character do when no one is watching? When your character is faced with a challenge or crisis, ask yourself what your character wants from the situation, and base their behavior/reaction on the answers you've given to the above.
There are many tips out there on character building and creating believable characters.
I highly recommend the book set Elements of Fiction Writing-check out "Characters and Viewpoint" by Orson Scott Card.
Check these out:
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch
25 Things you should know about Character
Well, I had a very productive weekend of editing, word polishing, and sentence tightening. The first round of edits are done and I'm ready for round two!
Many people don't realize how long it takes a book to get published, but there is a lot to consider. Not to mention that the editors and cover artists are working on more than just your project. There is the editing itself, and the marketing information such as a tag line or back cover blurb that entices the reader to buy your book. There is also cover art ideas, dedications or acknowledgements, and of course, my author photo that I finally picked for the book. See?!
While editing and reading my editors notes, I learned a lot about my writing style. I had no idea that I used the same words over and over, or that the word "that" is filler most of the time. I used "off of" which is redundant, and my characters were "looking", "walking" and "laughing" a lot. Not that laughing, looking and walking are bad things, but you don't want to read about it over and over.
I have read quite a few blogs and books about tightening your writing, but until I had an editor who addressed my specific writing quirks, I didn't really get it.
That being said, not everyone has their own personal editor.
SO I have included this link and this link to blogs that really helped me polish my work to get it noticed. Also, there is editing software such as Autocrit that is free and really helpful.
Some advice: Use the word find tool in your Word document to find overused words or phrases and either eliminate them or use a different word.
Author of "The Silver Cord", a paranormal romance.