What to Remember When Writing Fiction

How I wish I could write fiction. My parents told me when I was a little girl that I had a great imagination. Somehow over the years, when the real-life dramas took over, I seem to have lost the talent for telling made-up stories.

My aunt Lynn, who inspired me to write non fiction, starting with a Red Book article that was printed in the December 1974 issue, used to play a game with me called “Who can tell the biggest lie.” It was meant to entertain me when we were waiting for a bus or for the bread man to arrive in his truck full of goodies. But sadly, there is no bread man anymore, and even more sadly is that there is no Aunt Lynn anymore.

But I do read a lot of fiction, always paying attention to the opening sentence, the dialog, and the plot development, just in case I could think of a story of my own.

But here is the start of a list of tips I’ve jotted down, when the spirit moves me. Whenever you want to show someone affection, “smooth a lock of hair behind her ear.” How many times have you read that phrase? How many times has someone ever smoothed a lock of hair behind your ear? Did you wake up when your mother did that to you? Did you forgive your lover for saying those things when he did that to you?

I think this phrase falls into the category of hackneyed. Even my favorite authors use it at least once in every book. Have I been neglected by never having a lock of my hair smoothed behind my ear? Oh wait. My hair is too short for that. I guess if someone wants to show affection to a woman with short hair, they’ll have to come up with something more clever than smoothing a lock of hair behind her ear. .

How about you, dear Reader. What phrase makes you want to say, “Really? that again?”

Mary Hiland



Author of Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life and The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir

Available at Amazon.com, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261


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