Ask An Author

Ask an Author: Double Feature! Writing and Editing, and when Real Life is Stranger than Fiction

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Fine, fine, fine. Yes, I did it again. This week, two questions were submitted to our group of authors, and both of them were inspired, yet again, by the recently completed round of new The X-Files episodes. But yet again, there is nothing paranormal about the answers to either question; one delves once more in work technique, and the other into the strange occurrences of day-to-day life.

But first, some exciting news! One of authors has a new book available on pre-order! A big round of applause, please, for Ask an Author’s own Lee Murray, whose latest book, Into the Mist, is now available on Amazon. Hip hip, hurray!

The fist question has to do with the fact that some of our authors are editors as well as writers, and readers were wondering if it helps or hinders their writing. How is this related to The X-Files? Well, the latest opinion columns state that creator Chris Carter needs to step away from all creative aspects pertaining to the show except for sharing initial ideas and making sure that it all fits in the overarching mythology, since the three episodes of the revival he wrote were, well, kind of messy (to put it mildly. Lee is the only author in the cabal who answered this question.

Our other authors focused on the second question, which asked them to describe one time in their lives when the truth was stranger than fiction. And the relationship between this question and The X-Files is so obvious that I am going to leave her and go commiserate with other X-Philes on forums and chat rooms because yes, some of Carter’s work was that painful.

On Writing and Editing

Lee Murray

Being an editor certainly helps with my writing ‒ you can’t help but be on track with genre trends, and writing styles. Seeing other people’s errors, and how certain techniques can be used to remove those errors, thereby tightening and strengthening the narrative, ultimately helps me to improve my own writing. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone struggling with a sagging plot, a lacklustre character, or a dwindling-down-to-nothing ending. But when it comes to reading, being an editor can spoil your enjoyment of a story if the text is muddied with spelling and grammar issues, plot holes, and consistency issues. We can’t help but see them. They jump out at us more than the mole on an ugly stepsister’s chin. Some self-published writers will tell you their readers are more concerned with the story, than things like typography. They’ll tell you the odd error doesn’t really matter, but it does. I have a writer colleague ‒ not one of the Ask an Author stable ‒ who writes bestselling historical romances. An indie writer, she spins a fantastic story, full of period intrigue and rippling muscles and romantic angst. But almost every speech in her books are incorrectly punctuated – resulting in up to six or seven errors per page. I’ve alerted her to the problem, but it seems neither she nor her editor understand standard punctuation rules. Sadly, I can’t read her work anymore and she has lost a valuable reader and reviewer. I wonder how many other loyal readers have drifted away for the same reason.

On Life Being Stranger Than Fiction

A.J. Ponder

Life is always stranger than fiction, because if you wrote fiction that unbelievable, who would read it? Krakens, manatees, animals that can freeze solid, be unfrozen with a blowtorch and still live. They are all true – so long as you recognize a kraken is really a giant squid. So I’ll not talk about the strangest things that have happened to me, because after reading something so unbelievable, how will you be able to suspend disbelief for my fiction?

Catherine Mede

I haven’t really had a time where truth was stranger than fiction…  But I can tell you a funny story 🙂  I have a cat who turned 16 on 22 February.  He’s got arthritis in his hips so he’s fairly slow and cautious when it comes to moving around.  He was sleeping on the couch, and it must have been deep, because I run my hand over his fur as I walked past.  He levitated off the couch, back flipped onto the couch arm, and then did another backflip onto the floor.  He stood in the same position for 5 minutes, I guess while he tried to process the incredible acrobatic moment!

Angela Barry

I have times when I am creating the backgrounds in stories that I make something up only to find out it really exists.  I had this happen in a Vampire LARP setting where I made a Lasombra Elder want to go to the stars as a goal.  I later got to read the Lasombra source book and it was something they were written to want to do…except I had never read it prior to that.  Now I’ve got my paladin books and I pictured a blue flower with four petals being the symbol for the order that fights undead.  Looking into it, I found the exact flower I had imagined and it tends to grow…near cemeteries.  Reaching for art, sometimes we hit truth and come up with life.

Hunter Marshall

Well, the reason for writing Wake Up! Based on a true story of abuse and betrayal is one of those “Truths are Stranger than Fiction” types. I never thought I was the type of person who would trust a man so easily, but as that story will portray I was stupidly in love and even as things got worse and worse I thought I could “fix” him. Boy, was I wrong!

Our full roster of authors, in alphabetical order: Angela Barry, D. Odell Benson, F.C. Etier, Jean Gilbert, J. C. Hart, Hunter Marshall, Catherine Mede, Lee Murray, Karo Oforofuo, A.J. Ponder, Meryl Stenhouse, Lorene Stunson Hill, Lynn Voedisch, and Sybil Watters.

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