All families have secrets. I think that’s why some of us become fiction writers. Maybe, much to our family’s horror.
Secrets released in fiction is like water under pressure – there’s a spurt which resembles something other than what it really is. So, mostly, our family is safe.
Some secrets come to us second hand – the things people told us, what we know of other families, friends, acquaintances. In all honesty, these are my favorites.
The Gold Tooth is an amalgamation of family secrets. These are separate things from different people whispered to me at times, laughed about at other times, assumptions from other people – all mixed up in a writer’s brain to spurt out under the pressure of a story.
My grandmother told me a story in which a mother, in trying to teach her children biggest is not best, used to offer the children unmarked gifts in various sizes. Whoever choose based on the biggest gift didn’t necessarily received the best gift.
A friend told me she’d inherited teeth from an aunt.
Another friend provided details about an uneven and questionable disbursement of a will and trust.
They all mashed together to create this story of a mother who tried to teach her daughters a lesson, protect one, maybe both, by the terms of a her will.
Feel free to tell your secrets to a fiction writer. They’ll never tell the whole truth.
Sometimes Amazon does their own thing.
Once I saw my book Eddy was on sale far below what I’d seen before. I contacted the publisher who told me that Amazon had put it on sale to compete with another website. Really?
Well, they’ve done it again; my book, $1.00 Stories, is on sale. Or, at least, as I write this it is.
$1.00 Stories is about an author whose success is not enough and a homeless man who has what he wants.
I enjoy imagining people’s stories. I think all writers do. $1.00 Stories originally appeared in The Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal.
What’s better than coffee? FREE COFFEE! Or coffee that someone else bought for you. And that’s what happened to me the other day. I ordered my coffee and the guy said – “On me – because you’re a great teacher!”
That coffee tasted better than any coffee I’d had of late.
So – for you – free reads.
Here’s a story of mine – originally printed in Avatar: All the Beautiful People.
And here’s some freebies from other authors: 23 Free Stories
If you’re a kindle subscriber, there are many more stories!
Dan Brown, Neil Gaiman, Judy Blume, and a number of other authors talk about writing in notebooks.
Blume says she fills it up from start to finish. I have to admit, a have a number of half empty notebooks. I keep them in various places, the car, the bedroom, dining room table, my desk. Then, I move them around, put them elsewhere and begin a new one before I rediscover the one I previously used.
I used to use big composition notebooks. These days I use smaller journal types.
Studies show that writing by long hand in a notebook uses a different part of the brain.
I wrote Grandma’s Last Secret by long hand in a notebook. I wrote the whole of West End in a notebook before I ever thought of touching the laptop. I feel like there’s a difference for me. And sometimes, the notebook is easier on the eyes, easier on the brain. I don’t feel as much pressure from a pen and paper that I do when I sit in front of the computer.
But I do write on the computer sometimes too. I sit down and I’ll write a story, sometimes, from start to finish on the computer without considering a notebook.
Do you use notebooks? Or computers? or Both? Feel free to share in our facebook group.
Steven Tyler of Aerosmith says, “Dare to Suck.”
It seems that he and his band mates have a regular meeting in which they bring the wildest, crappiest, outlandish ideas to toss them around and see if they work.
9 out of 10 of those ideas have to be trashed – but the tenth gets you something like “Dude Walks Like a Lady.”
Why not throw around ideas that seem completely outrageous?! They can always be canned later, but in the meantime you have some ideas to play with and you might, well, come up with something good.
I wrote the line, “When I killed my neighbors dog…” My friends said, you can not use that. But I played with it to see where it might take me, and I wrote “Of Strays and Exes” by just playing with this strange line that came to me in a dream.
It was accepted for publication in Pilcrow and Dagger almost immediately and later made into a podcast. You can find it kindle now, or search P&G’s podcasts.
**Disclaimer: No animals were killed or injured in the writing of that story.
Poe’s secret for inspiration is used by many writers today.
Poe scanned headlines, read newspaper stories, and gleaned ideas from the oddities. His story Berenice is about a man who digs up his dead wife and takes her teeth. This is reportedly inspired by newstories of grave robbers, some of which left the body and took the teeth. Another story reportedly inspired by a news report was the Facts in the Case of Valdemar. At the time, there were reports of people who could speak to the dead; there were other stories of ways to prolong life. Poe, it seems, blended these and created a story in which Valdemar “survives” and “speaks” beyond his natural life. This short fiction was thought to be real. People believed it!
Inspiration, for me, has come from the odd news story. A human interest story in which a homeless man was selling stories on a New York street, inspired me to write $1.00 Stories.
Another story flickered to life when someone posted a handful of gold teeth and said she’d inherited them. How does someone come into the possession of teeth, not their own, and why would they will them to a family member? Hence, The Gold Tooth springs to life from my suspicious mind!
Scan the newspaper, and let your mind wander. We’re writers; we have the desire to understand, explain, and create.
A writing exercise to get your rusty writing pipes lubricated.
Write the same scene from three different points of view. I know this doesn’t sound new and groundbreaking, but when is the last time you did it? And what types of characters did you choose?
Let’s lighten it up for you – stretch your skills. If you’ve never written from the opposite gender point of view – try it. This is an exercise I did with Dad Shining. This story could not have been narrated by a woman, it had to be chronicled by a man. And that man, it turns out, had to be the son. Dad Shining was published by Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal – so I must have done something right.
But don’t stop there – go further. Write it from a pet’s point of view. The Art of Racing in the Rain is an adult novel narrated in total by the dog. And it is a GREAT novel! Imagine a story from outside of the human point of view.
Or write it from a child’s point of view. Because my children are older, and I’m presently writing a story which involves a nine year old girl, I’ve had to call my friends. I was fortunate enough to spend time with a delightful little girl and found the time and the young woman inspiring. I have even more ideas than I can handle.
Let me know how it goes – share in our Writing 365 Group.