INKWELL NEWSWATCH 
Monthly Online eZine  
News And Views For Working Writers

INdex 
 
 INside Scoop
 
 ON THE COVER
 
 INside AUTHORS
 
 COLUMNS
 IN Her Own Write
 INscribe
 Pen IN Hand
 Write On!
 INstruction
 
 WRITER'S LIFE
 Fiction
 Nonfiction
 Screen & Stage
 Poetry
 
 TOOL KIT
 Top 10 Resources
 Advice/Q&A
 Features
 Book Reviews
 Items Of INterest
 Global Offerings
 INside Services
 
 INside CHUCKLES
 Bill The Bard
 The Writer At Work
 Games & Puzzles
 
 FREEdom STUFF
 Classifieds
 Syndication
 Classic eTexts
 Free Software
 IN Banners
 
 ABOUT IN
 Who's IN
 What's IN
 Submissions
 Editorial Calendar
 Advertising
 Join IN's Team
 Contacting IN

IN Front Cover




Search

Learn To Be A Better Journalist

Buy Classic Literature Collections

Acclaimed Screenplay Writing Software

Books On How To Write Fiction

Become A Well Paid Travel Writer



Vote daily and raise our ranking!


WRITER'S LIFE
Fiction
January, 2008


Losing Patience

Making It Real
Original source research
By  Joyce Faulkner

Part of what makes fiction appealing is that it can be so intimate and intense.
I love reading. I have ever since I was a little girl.

Part of what makes fiction so appealing to me – both as a reader and as an author – is that it can be so true. When I wrote In The Shadow Of Suribachi about my father's experiences as a Marine on Iwo Jima, I chose to present the material as historical fiction. I did that for many reasons. First, my interviewees were veterans and survivors of that most horrendous of battles. They were willing to tell me one kind of story if their names were going to be in the book. However, when I promised not to identify them, I got a much deeper, emotional view of their time there. Second, by creating a group of fictional characters, I could explore perspectives different from mine without having to say so – and thus offer a well-rounded discussion of the event by having my characters live it. Finally, fiction allows an author to control the outcome of historical events. What can be more fun?

Compelling fiction is intimate, intense, and intriguing. Here's how I use research to create stories that embody those three qualities.

Intimacy

Authors create intimacy by allowing their characters to endear themselves to the readers. Protagonists must be like us in some way – so that we understand how they are feeling and why they do the things that they do. We should experience the hurt of a child recoiling from her mother's slap, the anxiety of a mother who sees her daughter run out in front of a car, the horror of the driver as he tries to avoid hitting the small figure in the road ahead of him. We can identify with these people because most of us have had similar life experiences.

The little incidents of our experience are rich fodder for plots that others can find familiar. However, sometimes we want to dig deeper. Psychology and psychiatry are wonderful tools. They can enhance our understanding of human behaviour. Philosophy and religious/political ideologies provide further information. Will the belief system of the mother change how she disciplines her child? Will the religious scruples of the driver impact his feelings about the impending accident?

When planning a story, I spend a great deal of time developing the characters. I look at my friends, neighbours, and family members. How would they react to the situation? I go to the library and surf the Internet to see how various mental conditions might influence behaviour. I talk with experts – religious figures, teachers, psychologists, politicos – and I evaluate how their opinions might augment my approach.

Finally, I interview people who have gone through the same things as my characters. I talk to them about their experiences. I ask about how it felt, tasted, and sounded. My goal is to create three-dimensional, "real-feeling" characters that seem like someone my readers know already.

Intensity

I want my stories to move my readers to tears. I want them to experience the plot and react to it with fear, anxiety, and tenderness as appropriate. Intensity begins with depth and passion. The reader must not only identify with the characters, he must care about them – and he must care what happens. He needs to be pulling for these people as they go through whatever they are going through.

 To create this dynamic in my work, I look to details. Real places. Real events. Things that folks recognize. I set my stories in everyday places. One time, I had a serial killer hide in a bathroom in the main concourses at Pittsburgh International Airport. That's someplace that we can visualize. It's where we feel reasonably safe. The idea of danger lurking there is chilling. After all, we can't avoid going to the toilet. Later in that same story, I had the serial killer stalk a child in the toy department at Wal-Mart. My readers tell me that that scared the pants off them. They wanted to call out to the little girl, "watch out" or to trip up the monster in some way. A lot of readers have been to the toy department in Wal-Mart at some point – it's so familiar that reader reactions are immediate.

I go out of my way, when planning a story, to visit the places where action will occur. I take photos, make sketches, create a list of options – and a list of questions that I have to answer within the story. I try to find little things that are normally innocuous – and turn them into something ominous. One time I had a woman squirt the bad guy in the eye with dishwashing liquid – and another time, I used a key fob that actually started a car to lead a character into thinking that she was getting away from the villain. To make it seem real, I had to go learn how those things work. I've gone to car dealerships and test driven vehicles I intend to use in chase scenes . . . and climbed to the top of a platform on Culp's Hill in Gettysburg and gripped the railing at the point where my character would leap to her death. Being there helps me feel the experience – and if I feel it, my readers will feel it too.

Intrigue

Readers love trying to figure out the plot. The more complex the plot, the more engaging it will be. Intrigue results when the author reveals information to the audience in a slow, deliberate way. Sometimes, it can be done by following the point of view of a particular character. Other times, the audience will know more than the protagonist – this also creates intensity. When I'm laying out the twists and turns I want to build into my books, I create diagrams and outlines. I usually begin with a timeline showing when everything should happen. This is what I call my "God's eye view" of the story. Then, I overlay a chart that helps me understand who knows what when. Each of my characters will behave differently based on when they learn certain facts. If I can't keep track of such things, my readers will be lead astray and feel betrayed. I mark up these charts … indicating where I should drop clues and who should provide the information to the audience. This part of writing a book is definitely the most fun – and the most technical.

To build intrigue into my work, I spend a lot of time understanding the history of the period I'm using. In Suribachi, I learned about the hurricane in Islamorada, Florida in 1935. It became a pivotal part of the plot as that event changed the course of action for one of my main characters. I read everything I could find about that event, including the fact that hundreds of World War I veterans died when the storm hit – they were washed away by the huge wave, blinded by the combination of sand and wind, or crushed by a locomotive that was blown off the tracks. The real story gave me a lot of information to create intrigue within my fictional one.

I hear lots of people say that they like to sit down and let it flow. They believe that they are just 'making up a story' and that research isn't necessary. However, I maintain that a writer's whole life is research. Those times that folks just sit down and write, they are relying solely on their own history. They are drawing on things they have already learned and assimilated. These resources can be greatly enhanced by research. Imagination intertwined with everything ever seen, heard, thought, or known gives us great fiction.
IN Icon


Joyce Faulkner is the author of Losing Patience (Red Engine Press, 2004) http://www.losingpatience.com/ and In The Shadow Of Suribachi (Red Engine Press, 2005) http://www.intheshadowofsuribachi.com/, winner of the Military Writers Society of America Gold Medal award for historical fiction for 2006.

Sign Up and Use Our New Forums! Voice Your Opinion! Discuss Our Content! Ask for Writing Assistance. Post Your Successes, Queries or Information Requests. Collaborate with Other Writers.

© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049

Fiction
IN This Issue
Rolla-Costa
Easy Readers
Write Angle
Writing Piffle
Temptation
Remember The Reader
Making It Real
Out Of Order
Reality Suspension
Devilish Details

Support IN
Receive Free Gifts
$20.00 Voluntary Contribution
$35.00 Voluntary Contribution
$50.00 Voluntary Contribution

New Novelist Software


Effectively Manage Your List


Writers Digest 101 Site Award






Your Ad Here

Traffic Swarm For Writers


Hottest Books This Month!

Whose Books Are Turning Into Movies?
Bald Ego
Mouse Over To Pause

Writer’s Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their “themes.”

Double Vision
A writer’s life is paradox,
It’s more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

Poetry
The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

Pegasus
It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

Re-Verse
The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poem’s through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

Read All Of Charles Ghigna's Poetry at FatherGoose.com


Our Own Banner Rotator System
Any banner seen below is either our own or one of our members.
Support the cause - click a banner.


Want Your 468x60 Banner Above? It's FREE For Newly Published Books

© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049
All Rights Reserved. Copying in any way strictly forbidden.
Our Disclaimer Is Based Upon McIntyre's First Law: "Under the right circumstances, anything I tell you may be wrong."