I hate filing so I let papers accumulate until I absolutely have to tackle the problem. That is one chore that I hate to do – Yuk! Anyway, I was filing and shredding papers when I came across some shorthand notes (Gregg) that I took a long time ago. They were scribbled on a manila folder so I must not have had a notebook or was totally unprepared when I attended some workshop or conference. I regret that I did not date the envelope because I don’t even remember where it was that I took such notes. However, it had something to do with novels.
A sample: A novel is about the reader, not the author. Start a novel with movement, i.e., like a movie. Maybe two voices bouncing off each other. Know where your story begins. It should start with some kind of impact. There has to be change. Ask yourself: “How is my character different at the end of my story?” Our stories have to be better than real life, more interesting. Give your characters more authority in their speech. Don’t let them go on too long. Eliminate the parts of the story that the readers skip – the boring stuff.
On writing historical fiction: go to the library and drench yourself in that period. Study ads in newspapers of the period you’re writing about. Do your research. Watch movies, videos, and go through archives. (I did do this for the historical fiction that I finally finished).
No matter when these notes were taken, they still apply. Since then, I have learned to be prepared when I attend workshops and conferences. Whether you use old-fashioned pen and paper or new technology like IPads, be prepared.
“Identifying research needs is a project-specific task. The best time to do this is during the outlining stage. As you add each scene, make note of any research required to complete that section.” – Writing Tip from Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner
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