Thursday, October 19, 2006

SQUEAK OF THE WEEK: Fiction Writing Ain’t Rocket Science! By Nadine Laman.

Want to know what it's like writing fiction?
Get reading - this is great advice from author Nadine Laman. With two books under her literary belt - Kathryn's Beach and High Tide, and more on the way, this Californian author has every right to be 'eternally optimistic that we can have a better world'.

Please email The Squeaking Noodle if you would like to be the next SQUEAK OF THE WEEK. The chosen guest blogger will be informed by email.

Fiction Writing Ain’t Rocket Science!
By Guest Blogger Nadine Laman.

What’s the trick to writing fiction? There is no trick. There is no magic formula, which everyone else knows, and you don’t. There wasn’t a memo sent out, there is no secret decoder ring, no muse (I hate that word), or anything else, everyone is selling to writers.

Here is how it works. An idea comes, a sentence maybe, an image of a scene or a scene opening. Sit down and write it out. Don’t think about it. Don’t go on a forum and spend days “talking” about writing. Don’t write out the whole outline – this is fiction!

Sure there is work and preparations to be made for nonfiction, but in fiction, it is as simple as sitting down and starting to type. Don’t believe me? Watch Finding Forrester (Columbia Pictures © 2000) - if Sean Connery said it, it has to be true!

Sit down and write. That’s it. Write the scene that unfolds in your mind. Otherwise, the writing is stilted and has a forced feel to it – who wants to read something like that? The ideas and freshness, the ease of the story unfolding, are all lost in writing an outline. Save all that for your MFA class. Outlines make professors happy. Forget it in real life writing, though. It messes up the pacing and the natural arcs in the story line. Trust me on this - I’ve watched Finding Forrester!

I cranked out my first 80,000-word novel in twenty-one days, just writing a couple of hours a night. Fiction is story telling. The writer’s job is just to write it down. After the first draft is written, then you can sit down with all the writing books on your shelf and tweak it. Just don’t mess with it too much or it will be dry as a bone.

Here’s what I do, not that anyone has to do what I do, I write the first draft without looking back. I don’t edit or look back at anything, until the entire draft is written, which might be why I get them done so quickly – so I can go look at it again. Then, start from the beginning, read through and fix things; cut the rambling, tighten the prose, make sense of the dialogue – leaving in the dialogue tags until it can stand on its own.

Next, send it out to a couple of willing pre-readers. The last thing pre-readers should say is that it is “masterful.” Their job is to point out the parts, that aren’t masterful. When they send back comments or questions, consider each one very carefully. Don’t defend the writing or argue with the pre-readers (they did you a favor), consider whether the comments lead to an improvement.

I don’t always make the changes they suggest; usually the problem is bigger than they think. Sometime the whole “masterful” paragraph has to be cut. It stinks and their polite suggestions aren’t going to fix it. This isn’t about a writer’s ego, this is about writing your best book.

I often read the whole manuscript out loud in a week’s time. Stopping only to underline or star something to revisit. (Print drafts on the back of used paper.) Once I make all the changes and enhancements, then off to the editor. Since I’m dyslexic, this is a necessary step for my work. So, there it is – something to shop to the industry. Write your best book!
(Thanks for sharing the wisdom Nadine!)

Feel free to Email Nadine Laman or pop along to her website Nadine Laman Books

Here's what Amazon readers had to say about Kathryn's Beach by Nadine Laman.

More from The Squeaking Noodle on writing: Writing a Book - In One Hit!


Anonymous Nadine said...


Thanks for letting me squeak on your blog!

3:27 AM  
Blogger Prashanth said...

Hmmm. That there's good advice, for sure. For one who's been retentive with a novel idea for the last 6 months or so. Thanks S.Noodle and Nadine.

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


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4:15 PM  

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