Saturday, September 18, 2010

Writing 101-Writing Fiction with Yvonne Mason

This will be the first part in Yvonne's Writing 101 series.  Part 1 - Writing Fiction.  Read and enjoy :).

  Writing Fiction

     Now that I have all of you completely confused as to why I write so many different genres let me explain, I am eclectic. In other words I am very diverse in my thinking. Because of my background and my degree my first love is crime. I love the criminal mind. However, I have to listen to the voices in my head telling
me what to write. My first book Stan's Story which has since been redone and re titled to Dream Catcher Failure was Never an Option was a labor of love so that my children and grand children would remember my brother who is challenged and born at a time when the challenged had no resources. He is a success because
of this challenge. He was not put away he was accepted and loved. Tangled Minds is based on a crime that happened in Gainesville Ga. in the 1990's and it involved a friend of my daughter. I also drew from her troubled life for the main character.

      Blood Alley is a short story about a Ga. Truck Driver who winds up becoming something he really doesn't want to be because of something he did. Brilliant Insanity is a crime novel based in Ft Pierce about a serial killer who kills because he thinks he is getting retribution. Silent Scream is a true crime about Gerard John Schaefer Florida's first serial killer. When Fates Collide my newest release was co -written with an author friend of mine who lives on the West Coast of Florida and it is a comedy. WE wrote that book by e-mail.

       By the look on your faces, I see that you all are saying in your mind, you did all this HOW???
As Ricky Ricardo said to Lucy, "Let me splain."

       In writing there is no right or wrong way as opposed to when I was in school and one had to do an outline before one even really put pen to paper. Those days are gone. Each writer has their own style their own way and their own path. Some authors I know make outlines or rough drafts, some put pen to paper and just start the story. Some, like myself take to the computer with a vengeance. There is an old adage in the industry and is "Write about what you know." In other words because of my background in criminal justice, being married to a retired investigator for the state attorney's office and being a hunter, I know about the
criminal mind. I know how they think, what they think and how they act. I know why they kill. I have studied them and their crimes for years. I have also been in the court room more times than I can count. Since that part of my life is a passion and writing is a passion they go hand in hand.

    No matter what I am writing there are several things I do first it doesn't matter if it is fiction or non- fiction. I do research, even if I am very familiar with my subject.

     The reason is simple. When your reader opens that book you want them to step into the story. You want them to believe that what they are reading is real.  You want that book to hold their attention and grab them from the first word. In today's world readers are very educated. They know more than they used to. So if
you are writing a crime novel you want to make sure that your law enforcement isn't knocking some criminal upside the head or arresting them without reading them Miranda. Readers pick up on the little things very quick. They are more educated than in years past.

  When I was writing Brilliant Insanity, I made sure that I knew about Shark attacks, and bait. The reason, well you will just have to read the book. They also picked up on the fact that my criminal met some of his victims at Archie's a very popular place in Fort Pierce. It gave more meat to the story. They could relate.

  When I wrote Silent Scream my true crime one of the things I was told over and over was the fact that some of my readers had been on the very roads the victims were taken from, they had been by the places the girls were killed. They could relate to the book. The point is as a writer you want to be credible while still
using your literary skills in weaving a spell binding story.

   Second I let those voices in my head give me the name of my main character.  Once the name is out there the story starts taking form. Then it is time to let them take over. I have found that when I try to force a story it will not come. Give in to your inner child. Allow those imaginary friends come to the surface. It is okay. We
are called Odd Minded because we think with the creative side of our brain,  which is the right side. You are among the greats if you have stories and characters which dance inside your head.

   The writer has what we call literary license; he is only limited by his own imagination. So if you want to write about a race of people on a planet which is in your head fine go for it. But remember the reader will need a bit of background before jumping into the story. The best way to do that is to give a bit of information at the front of the book, for instance, you will want to make a glossary of the language, way of life, etc. That way the reader knows how to understand the story and his characters. Remember they are reading ­ it is not
visual. Don't start your first chapter without building your story, that first chapter will make or break your reader. In fact that first sentence will either grab your reader or make them put the book down never to pick it up again.

     For instance would you continue reading if the first sentence went something like this: "He died." You might finish the paragraph just to see who died. But would it not be more of an impact if you said, "The bullet ripped through his skull as he fired his last bullet at the cop." For me that makes me want to find out who he is ­ why he was firing at a cop and what happened after that. A good writer always puts the who, what, where, when and how in their story.

   It doesn't matter if you are writing a romance, suspense, mystery, cookbook, the idea is to make that reader walk that book to the checkout counter at the library, the bookstore or the online cart. You want them to say "I gotta have it."  Then you want them to tell their friends what a great book it was so they will run out and buy it.

    If you are writing a book and it is taking place say for instance in your home town, remember folks from your home town will be reading it. They will know if you put Main Street at the end of 1 when it is really at the end of 4 street.
     If you want to write a story that takes place in a different state, country or town, take the time to research that place. Make your reader see the sites, smell the smells, hear the different sounds of the place. Make them want to visit that city, town or country. Make them understand the hardships of a third world country or a communist country. Own that place. With the technology we have in the internet there is no reason not to. You can travel all over the world and never leave the comfort of your easy chair. Once you get a lay of the land you can make it whatever you want it to be.

     In my years as both an avid reader and writer, I have found that when an author gets bogged down in detail it takes away from the story. I have read everything from Tolstoy to Shakespeare, to Poe my personal favorite, to Stephen King to Ann Rule, Ann Rice, Patterson, and others. I started reading when I was
five years old before I started school and never looked back. When I was twelve years old and in seventh grade I had to read Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" and do a report on it. From that day on I never looked back, crime became my favorite, along with Edgar Allen Poe.

    We all have our favorite author who we would like to emulate. Read everything you can by that author, or by authors who write what you are interested in writing about. This gives you an idea of what is out there, and how it  is written to grab the masses. But remember you as a writer are unique. Use that uniqueness to write your story.

    The main thing I found out is this less is more. The only book I ever read that Stephen King wrote which I really enjoyed was Pet Cemetery the reason is because he didn't describe a blade of grass to death. There is only so many ways to describe a blade of grass.

    A prime example is this: "The emerald green, pointed five inch long deep veined blade of grass swayed softly back and forth as if dancing alone in the early morning rising bright yellow sun which rose as if kissing the dew covered earth."

    As the kids would say this is way too much information.     A better way to describe this scene would be- "As the morning sun kissed the earth the emerald green grass swayed as if dancing in the early morning light."

   This sentence gives the reader just enough visual to keep their interest but yet doesn't overload the scene.
I have also found that in describing sex scenes that once again less is more.  This is especially true when you are writing a crime novel. Serial killers, predators and rapists don't use sex as their primary tool. Sex is secondary to the control and the feel of power over their victims. The stalking, abduction and the kill is the
primary factors in their actions. The sex is just something to keep their victim under their control. It is a fear factor, if you will. Women are more afraid of being raped than anything else. So that action makes the perfect tool for fear. But even with that one should not use over kill to make that scene.   The reader doesn't need a blow by blow account of what is happening to keep the flow of the story going not even if you are writing erotica.

Stay tuned for the next lesson in Writing 101 - Writing Non - Fiction.

If anyone has any questions,  please comment and we will respond :).

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