How to Write Fiction

A story starts with an image.

Any image will do as long as it gets you jazzed. I was thinking I had nothing to write about, and then just now I realized I’ve had this image swirling around my head for several months. I think the reason I repressed it is that didn’t respect it. It’s not literally fantastical, but it has a lot of magical fairy dust in its feel, in the feelings swirling around it. A sort of Disney, bubble-gum, cheesiest of romantic comedy element, that made me dismiss it out of hand. The last image that drove me to write a novel and several associated short stories a couple years ago was solidly based in realism, and so I guess I never took this one seriously.
But what does it matter as long as it gets you jazzed enough to sit down and start writing? You only need a way in. Can you imagine, for instance, if you’d had the original idea for Harry Potter? And then telling your friends about it before it had been written? They’d have been positively embarrassed for you! So, throw all judgment out the window especially if you have an image that gets you jazzed.


I mean if you can afford to go to Iowa or audit a college level fiction writing class that would be great, but I think that 90% of it is just reading, reading, reading—any and all of the fiction you can get your hands on, breathing it in like air, soaking it in like sunshine. And then interviews with successful fiction writers on the nitty gritty of their process. And then the other part is simply putting your butt in a chair. How many hours did you have your butt in a chair last week writing? That’s a key question. An image is a huge motivator. There might be one or several swirling around your head even as you read this that you haven’t been acknowledging. Go with it. It’s Hermes appearing in your mind. It’s the magical aid of fairytales showing up to guide you, to sustain you. Even if you’re having to work odd, dull jobs to support yourself your subconscious will be working on it all the while.

Literature My Fiction

Fiction Writer’s Resources

I’m spending most of my time and focus on writing a novel right now. So, hence this.

“Words to Use instead of Said”
This was the top result when I googled: what are some words you can use to describe dialogue besides said

I created an “Alter-Ego” Twitter (@ottersransom) for solely for my artistic endeavors. My main personal account (@Pickering) which I’ve had since 2007 just seems to messed up and cluttered.
I got this next resource from googling: what’s a good hashtag on twitter for fiction writers and novelists

44 Essential Twitter Hashtags Every Author Should Know

1 Minute Tips Literature Philosophy

Advice for Aspiring Writers

I came across this today via Twitter, and I thought it was so good, that I needed to keep it on my blog, so that I would always have a copy.

Here’s the advice:

First — keep reading. Writers are readers. Writers are also people who can’t not write.

Second, follow Heinlein’s rules for getting published:

1. Write it.
2. Finish it.
3. Send it out.
4. Keep sending it out until someone sends you a check.

There are variations on that, but that’s basically what works.


It’s from novelist Anne McCaffery who died today at 85. I wasn’t aware of here, but when I read the blog post about her death and it noted this piece of advice, it made such an impression on me that I posted it on all my Social networks, but also felt the need to keep it on my blog.

You’re blog on you’re own domain, I think is important, because things like Twitter, Facebook, are great for “Real-Time” but they are ephemeral, and you tend to forget what you posted after a few days, much less can you find things that you need.

One of the things that resonates with me on her list is “Finish it.” I’ve noticed that with songs: Even if you don’t necessarily like your lyrics, it’s always so much better to finish the song, rather than leave it lingering, waiting for the “perfect” lyrics to “someday” come. Someday never will come, but if you finish the song as best you can, then it takes on a life of it’s own and has the opportunity to get better.

“Done is Better than Perfect.” is a sign that they have around Facebook’s Headquarters. Very à propos.

My Poetry Poems

Poem | “9 Miracles”

We can all be good.
The rough beast crawling towards Bethlehem
says, “You should.”
But we can let it go,
face in the wind, rain, and snow,
as the falcon of our soul soars off Kilimanjaro.
The distant bells
are Black Sea shells,
and her lips sail closer
as we fall deeper
into a dreamless sleep, dryer than the Sahara,
only broken up by the sparkle of the Sun lasered sand
that the beast remembers as a once fruitful land.
At once we transcend Pharoah’s gold
and the story of Yusef that’s been told
of falling in a well and into Egypt being sold.
It doesn’t hold as much for us anymore now that the fire
has colored the mountain and drinken from the well
of thirsty distraction that’s blinded to the veil
covering the passage to the Promiseland.

We hold true to these words,
heart given to each other,
and our congregation formed like a ring of birds.

One for the Trinity two for the show
three to take the chances so that all can know.

Isis can hold us up even as she nurses the productions of time
in search of her husband the divine.

We sit on the throne, a Supernova
that produced all this gold,
as the serpent slithers towards Rome.
Ptolemy falls from the Alexandrian stacks
carrying the Moon and stars on his back.
Someone such should know
that the Caliphs have buried his secret scroll.
The priests drown the halls in chants
as the prince discovers the burning bed.
Each Irish maidens’ beauty more spectacular than the next
as Olympus opens each door to the morning breath,
and Demeter sprints to Avalon
with the message of Aquinas’ last glance.