Fire in Fiction for the 21st Century

It’s funny how many times I think of a great blog post topic and by the time I come here, blank page! Posts have been started but lost their luster when I look at them the next day. I know this turbulence is more than being in an exciting new stage of my life, many energies are affecting my thoughts and routines.

I read “Fire In Fiction” and its message resonated with what I like about my favorite books. On Saturday I will be attending an all-day workshop presented by Donald Maass regarding his latest book on the craft of writing and storytelling:

What distinguishes “Writing 21st Century Fiction” from other craft books on the market today?

Don: There’s a great chasm dividing the nation of fiction writers. On one side are the literary writers, on the other are commercial storytellers. Generally speaking they don’t meet, talk, share the same values or even work the same way.

Each side has something the other needs, but how do you talk with literary writers about that dirty word “plot”, and how do you open up storytellers to beautiful writing when they sneer as they try to get to the bank?

Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional StorytellingThis is probably going to be a very good workshop for me because I have bounced around doing too many styles of writing these past six years. From memoir to nonfiction, screenwriting to commercial fiction, and even How-To and journalism. It’s been a blessing I wasn’t also trying to work as a technical writer during these years.

The advice for writers is always to pick one style, or genre, and stick with it. Which I did, sometimes sticking with one specific project for months at a time. I considered all other writing projects as temporary suspensions from crafting novels. All the big events in my life were research for when I returned to fiction. When would that be? I even had an answer – “When I get the conflict and drama out of my life and into my books.” And, oh yeah, that pesky “plot” issue…

When the publishing contract for my novel was signed and dated with my mom’s birthday, there wasn’t this euphoric lottery win sensation, well, there was that too, but it also felt like a surreal shift in the fabric of the universe because – “It’s time.” And as my sister says, the stars have aligned.

The cool twist is, I had registered my author business on my mom’s birthday three years earlier. This means the message from my mom is – writing novels is what you love, do that. Everything else is business.

About Terri Patrick
Writer of Romance and Memoir. Life is an adventure, take that journey.

3 Responses to Fire in Fiction for the 21st Century

  1. I guess ‘stick with it’ is the same for most things, as long as it feels right. A good sign that the contract was dated with your mom’s birthday. Lots of luck.


  2. Trish says:

    I agree with Mike about the date of the contract. Don’t agree about sticking to just one thing. Sue Grafton did it with Kinsey, but I would go stark raving mad sticking to one thing. As a writer, I enjoy exploring many things, many worlds, many situations. I have found there really aren’t any rules. There is only story.


    • terripatrick says:

      Sticking with one character or series would drive me nuts. Never happen.

      But I have a good voice for nonfiction and my novels never found a home – until now. So I’m on a path that is not advised, writing both fiction and nonfiction. I see my nonfiction as “projects” but my novels are the stories I love for the challenge of craftsmanship they present.


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