Monday, October 5, 2009


Wow, raining here. A lot. Makes me wish I was under a tin roof somewhere tucked away in the woods. More on that later.

Continuing with the Author ABCs...

When you're writing, every story starts with a question: "WHAT IF?" What if I lived in 1932 Gee's Bend? What if I was blind in one eye? What if my mother got sick and there wasn't a doctor? What if I was only ten years old and was barefooted and had never been out of Gee's Bend?

Then it's just a matter of asking "WHAT NEXT?" over and over and over again, until you've created a story that makes the reader so eager to know the answer to the question that s/he keeps turning the pages.

When you're revising, it's all about questions too. Or at least it has been in my experience, with one Extremely Excellent Editor. She doesn't rush in and try to fix things for me, she asks questions so that I can find a way to fix it myself. Questions like "WHY?" and "WHAT FOR?" and "REALLY?" (That last one always makes me smile.)

Also, did you know "questions are not an effective storytelling device"? Yeah. I've had to cut a gazillion questions in my current wip. (Apparently I really like asking myself questions and think characters should too.)

The whole publishing process is full of questions, many of which don't have answers. It's definitely a hurry up and wait kind of business. Infuriating at times, but great too, for those of us who can appreciate a little mystery in life.

And let's not forget the pitch, the very first and probably most common question asked of writers: WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?" or "WHAT'S YOUR BOOK ABOUT?" Yeah. Tougher than it sounds.


  1. Hi Irene,
    I just discovered your blog. You've got some great posts in your "author ABCs" series. You should share some in our contest celebrating Esther's book S IS FOR STORY. Even if you don't want to enter the drawing, you can still share an Author ABC, others have. See

    And congrats on your upcoming publication!

  2. Hi Irene! You can send some of your rain out here and I will send you a bit of our sunshine!

    Sigh, I have so much to learn about the art of writing...But where is the line between all of the technical stuff and nurturing what comes naturally? Once again, more questions than answers.

    Big hugs,


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