On Writing

Ever since an elementary teacher assigned me to bring a rock to school and “make up a story” of where that rock had been, I’ve loved to write.

By third grade, severe asthma during frigid West Texas winters compelled my staying inside during recess. Alone in my classroom, I devised a way to pass the time. I sharpened five pencils to different heights and created the Pencil Family. I’ll spare you the complex and fascinating plot lines.

My sixth grade teacher encouraged me to pursue a career in writing.

I wrote all through middle school and high school years and, like Agnes, hoped for a creative writing major, but the college I attended offered no such amenity.

Therefore, I only dabbled in the art through much of my adult life.

How I got the idea for Trevorode, I cannot recall. Originally, my hero was Trevor Rhoades. But a fellow author, Jim Hamlett, advised me publishers are very interested in heroines.

Agnes Quinn stepped forward.

Another good friend, Nancy Bolan, informed me of the annual University of North Florida Writers’ Conference. Assigned to write ten pages in order to attend a critique group, I thought it impossible to meet that deadline.

At that first conference I learned two key concepts which have guided me ever since.

“Don’t marry your words.” Author Steve Berry’s mantra has prodded me many times to hit the “backspace” and “delete” buttons with no mercy. Good advice—still keeping me on track.

“Don’t poke your reader in the eye.” Author Adrian Fogelin’s reminder has prevented me from blindsiding my readers with improbable plot twists.

If you are an aspiring author, you might like to read further for the handy hints I’ve learned on my own.

  1. When you’re stuck, leave your manuscript and find a blank sheet of paper and then simply type—no matter what you’re writing, no matter how rudimentary or brief, keep typing… “scribble” and “doodle.” You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to come back to your gibberish and craft something you can use.
  2. Limit your paragraphs to 100 words. This self-imposed rule has tightened and focused my writing like no other.
  3. Never forget: “There is no such thing as good writing—only good rewriting.”
  4. Write something every day—even if it’s for only 15 minutes. You don’t have to be brilliant—only consistent.