Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Thin Line between Fact and Fiction

Photo taken by Claudia Del Balso
 When writing our stories, we usually get inspired on facts, true events, places and people we know. The question is, where do we draw the line between fiction and non-fiction?

One of my creative non-fiction short stories is based on my visit to Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West. My mentor told me to be careful with overdoing the dialogue to avoid crossing into fiction. I had to keep it true (even if I had paraphrased) to what was really said. He also advised me to go easy on the minutiae: you can incorporate facts and any research without overwhelming readers with boring details. When writing non-fiction, you can reword conversations or change names without altering the facts. This is what I am doing in my latest story set in Istanbul, hence the photo above.

When using facts, don’t forget that your readers have to find the material informative, yet entertaining.
You can also use your sources by including them in the form of dialogue, background description, or three-dimensional scenes.

The material doesn’t have to sound like a university research paper. Be wise on how you weave the facts into the story.

One important piece of advice: you have to be a credible author. Your readers will know if your facts are accurate even if your story is fiction. A perfect example of this, my short story “I Am a Woman,” is a complete figment of my imagination. The story is set in Africa and even though I’ve never been there the facts were definitely there. I did extensive research and I knew I had succeeded when one of my readers, who happened to be African, told me she was impressed with the accuracy of the details. She was convinced I had been there.

Remember, just because it’s fiction doesn’t mean it can’t sound real. Doing research can inspire you to create the perfect story.

Monday, May 23, 2011

It Loves Me… It Loves Me Not

While vacationing, my writing took a backseat even though a plethora of muses surrounded me. The best part is that I did NOT feel guilty at all for not jotting down a few ideas. I figured they would all pour out once I got home. But now that I am home, my writing is still in the backseat. The ideas are floating in my brain, but I’m having a hard time putting them down on paper.

I haven’t produced a new story in awhile. Last summer, I was producing and editing so many stories that I felt guilty for abandoning other projects. This has left me wondering if I still love writing as much as I did last summer. And does writing still love me?

So I decided I would edit the photos from my trip which fueled my inspiration to write this post. My next step is to write an outline for one of the stories that has been percolating in my head.

The two photos you see here are just a glimpse of the bigger muse. Can you guess where this is?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tip of the Day: Begin with a Bang!

Dear Bloggie Friends:
I am back! I had a wonderful vacation and I didn't want to come back :(
However, reality calls and I have tons of work waiting for me. So, this will be a very short post, actually a helpful tip from Jeff Rivera.

You Know Your Query Letter Sucks When - You Haven't Begun with a Bang

"How come Daddy? How come?" That's probably a three-year-old's favorite question and it forces the parent in the crutch of a busy day to stop what he is doing and think for a second. "Hmmm - Yeah, why is that dogs bark and cats meow?"

Questions are such a powerful tool when beginning your query letter because it forces the agent to stop for a moment and not use their clicker tool (aka the deleting finger of death). They have to pause, and it prompts them to read the next sentence.

I once wrote a query letter for a project called, "If I Could Do It All Over Again" and the question was, "if you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do all over again?" Interesting question, eh? Makes you think, and it made enough editors think that editors by the truckload requested to read the book proposal.

Questions work and they're a great way to hold the all-important attention of the agent. Start your query letter out with a question and you'll be one step closer to landing an agent.

Tip by Jeff Rivera, who is the founder of http://www.howtowriteaqueryletter.com./ With over 100 clients to date, he has a 100% track record of getting at least 10 literary agents to request to read his client's manuscripts and proposals.
Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

Saturday, May 7, 2011

We Interrupt this Program...

Dear Bloggie Friends,
Thank you for stopping by and for your continued readership. As of May 2nd, I've been on a well-deserved vacation. I hope this relaxing time inspires me to write some great articles and short stories upon my return.

I will be back in one week. I hope to see you around here then.