How much truth is there in Fiction?

It appears to me that one must start with a truth and then let the imagination take over to be able to write a fictional story.

One starts with a true fact and then the question – What if something else happens and so the story is formed to suit your purposes.

One cannot start a story from a vacuum, an empty sky, a place where nothing is happening or from an empty mind.

If there is nothing that excites you, you have to research something that captures your imagination, even if it is murder, because crime is what you like to read and therefore write.

Nicholas Evans researched ‘the History of Wolf Slaughter in America’ to be able to write his fictional story called ‘The Loop’. Without research of the true facts, this story could not be believed. And that’s what a fictional story has to be.

The same with Jeffrey Deaver’s ‘The Coffin Dancer’ or The Bone Collector’. He wanted his detective to be a quadriplegic. Deaver’s research into quadriplegia was painstaking and he even tried out the equipment himself.

In the end it is an invented story, but there are truths interwoven into the fabric or it wouldn’t be believable.

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Should I lift my pen?


In my experience, when I have no idea what I’m going to write in the next chapter, I take it on faith that thoughts will come to me when I put pen to paper.

Because it has happened before, I trust that it will happen again. On saying that, I have a setting and perhaps two characters. It is their turn to present me with the next part of the story. And somehow the words flow from my brain through my pen and onto the paper like a magical occurrence. It is not planned and yet there it is – the next chapter.

Recently I read in ‘Finders Keepers’ by Stephen King, the following words –

  A good novelist does not lead his characters, he follows them.

A good novelist does not create events, he watches them happen and  writes down what he sees.

I find there is truth in these words.


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How Do You get Depth?

I have had this problem for some time.

I’ve written six novels under the pen-name Sarah Wallace and sell them on Amazon UK Kindle Store. But not until now have I been shown what real depth was.

My characters are what they seem, act how they would in reality, be villains when they want to be, are flawed like humans and good guys apologise for their discrepancies. But they do not have depth of character which would make them more interesting. I have given the problem much thought, but the answer doesn’t appear automatically.

When I read the first fifty pages of ‘Carnival of Shadows’ by R.J. Ellory, I knew I had found the answer.

1.’Back Story’    2.A Past History.   3.Reasons why he is the person he is now.   4.’Baggage’, which he still carries around in his head.

I hope to remedy my current novel with these thoughts for my characters to make them more interesting. You might want to do the same.



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Should you think you are worthless?

I read recently an article about Social Media and it made me wonder if I was helping anybody. Surely talking over problems on my blog would spark interest, if another writer is having the same difficulties.

I can only imagine that they have the same aspirations: Finding an idea for a story, choosing the right characters, deciding on the setting and planning the beginning. Before this of course you would need to know the genre and in what period – historical or contemporary?

If I’m going to help the writer, who is panicking, I will have to share my experiences, I guess. Well, here goes:

I write about crime committed in present day times. It’s pure fiction and I enjoy every minute I spend on it. The reason being is when I have completed my target of 1000 words per day, I realise time has passed and I’ve been in a different world.

Getting an idea for a story isn’t easy. It needs something to happen to trigger an impulse and when that doesn’t happen, you have to go searching.

I’ll tell you about how I found an idea for my sixth novel next time.

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Should we pose for thought?

I have published the sixth novel, which I thought would be my last. And I’m on top of the world because one of my faithful readers gave me a wonderful review.

‘Damned’ by Sarah Wallace (pen-name) – to be found on Amazon UK Kindle Books.

Immediately one finishes a novel, you search for another idea. You know you could do with a break, but without an idea, you panic.

As luck would have it, I went on a bus tour and something happened, which planted seeds – what if? An idea for a novel presented itself. Where it will take me I don’t know, but I’ve decided instead of a five day tour, I’ll make it a ten day tour, which will give me time for murders to occur and a story unfold.

Writing is no different from any other activity. A golfer wants to get to the tee in less strokes, a boxer wants to find the punch that will knock his opponent out sooner than later, a tennis player wants to find the swing that will take the ball over the net and drop it at his opponent’s feet, so he can’t hit it. With writing it’s not so much beating other authors as learning from them. I have said before that for a writer, reading is as important as writing.

Recently I read ‘Sunset Park’ by Paul Auster. It opens up thought on how you can delve deep into character and show how they have developed. Sunset Park is where these people find themselves. They have one thing in common – no money. It’s a dump and while no-one is aware that they are squatters, it might give them time to get sorted and find a way of making a living, so they can move on with their lives.

It made me want to find out more about the characters I put into my novel and to deepen and give them more meaning. It can only improve the reader’s experience, so I’m going to try.


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Where does the inspiration come from?

I have given this some thought and I think when one starts to read in the early years of primary school, there is a compulsion to write for yourself. It may start with the compositions or essays that the teacher might ask for. You write about a particular subject and you write it as it appears to you. There is no emphasis on historical fact, so you can make it up from your imagination. This is the match that when set alight becomes inspiration.

Later, when you write and want it published, you are not deterred by rejections because the well-received essays at school gave you the confidence to write and not be put off.

I have mentioned before that one should read as much as one writes. By doing this, you are feeding your mind and soul with a variety of facts about life and also about ways of writing.

Recently my reading has included –

Goldenrod by Herbert Harker.  Surprise Party by William Katz.  At the going down of the sun by Elizabeth Darrell.  Jester by James Patterson.

I treated myself yesterday with a Harper Lee novel – Go Set a Watchman. I can’t wait to start reading it.

So have fun writing and enjoy reading worthwhile novels.


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Should writing be a punishment?

I recently read that an author of repute thought writing was an exhausting struggle. Others found the process painful and think of it as running a marathon. I asked myself – Why do they do it, if it is so punishing? Even if at the end of their painful journey, they find themselves pleased with the outcome, did the pleasure outweigh the pain?

I couldn’t justify the time spent working on a novel, if I didn’t get enjoyment from the writing. Seeing what my characters do and how they behave in certain situations is enlightening. A light gets switched on because they do things I don’t anticipate. It’s only as you write, things happen beyond what was expected and you are surprised by the outcome.

This is one way to learn about life. Although you are writing from experience, some of it is from what you have heard, read or imagined. Imagination is a very powerful and a writer’s best tool in my opinion.

Writing is a pleasure for me, not a punishment.

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