Saturday, May 31, 2014


By Keith N Fisher

I was recently, given a second chance in my life. I got my old job back. I worked there for fifteen years and was gone for almost ten. Now I’m relearning skills and acquiring ne ones. It’s a sedentary job, however, and I’ve been too tired to keep up with exercise.

At the same time, I’m still working two days a week, in the occupation I’ve worked at for four years. That is a very physical job, lifting, cleaning, and just rushing around for eight hours.

After two weeks of this, to my chagrin, I learned what happens when you discontinue activity. The word is Atrophy. My muscles are growing weaker and exhaustion sets in. I know I must continue walking and lifting daily or I won’t have the strength to continue in the other job.

With that in mind, here are my words of writing advice: Don’t let your writing muscles atrophy. Writing, for me, has been going well lately. I have a pile of editing and submitting to do, but I opened one of my older projects the other day and went to town, so to speak. The plot holes I’d created filled in nicely, and I think this will be a best seller.

The book is historical fiction, with a strong moral at the end. And it’s epic in scope with a journey across the American Continent in the mid-nineteenth century. When I work on that manuscript during my lunch hour, I don’t want to quit. That, feeling is why I became a writer in the first place.

I’m hooked on the endorphins of being in the zone, but I could just as easily put it aside until my life gets going again. When I do that, It’s harder to write. The in the zone times grow farther apart, and my writing muscles atrophy.

So, my words of wisdom for today; keep going. You can only improve. When things click, and your skills kick in, you won’t ever want to do anything but write. With traditional publishing getting harder and harder, those in the zone times might be your reward for the effort. Don’t let your muscles atrophy.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

How to Make a Person

By Keith N Fisher

Beyond getting married and ahem, procreation, how do you create people? Of course I’m talking about the characters in your story. Have you ever been writing and suddenly, you run into a new character? When that happens to you, what do you do?

I’ve been lucky in my writing because characters always appear. Almost like a real person walking up to me, and shaking hands. They’re full-blown individuals and I have to learn all their little quirks as I write about them.

I’ve heard writers talk about their character bibles and how the tool helps them keep track of personalities. They consult their bible to determine whether a character would do something or not. I just let my characters surprise me with the things they do. Then I go back and rewrite.

Occasionally, minor characters try to take over the story. Then, I’m left with a decision. Do I keep them down as minor characters? Or change the story. Sometimes, I promise to write a sequel, although that doesn’t always get done.

Perhaps having it all planned will prevent rewrites, but in my opinion, letting characters develop themselves, makes them more interesting. I like to imagine a writer who determines his character will or won’t do something. Then, the character confronts them with a need to be different. You respond by saying, "Shutup, that’s not part of the outline.

Of course, most characters are selfish and haven’t seen the big picture. Following their way, might ruin the story. Don’t stifle your character until you see how their suggestions will play out. After all you created those people. How could they be wrong?

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, May 16, 2014

With Freedom Comes Responsibility

By Keith N Fisher

I know what you’re thinking. Judging by the title, Keith is about to get on a political soapbox, right? No, I still think this blog is not the place for that. I’m going to write about something else.

Back in the early nineteen-sixties, and before, journalists kept a self imposed muzzle on what they reported. They all knew President Kennedy was a womanizer, but they chose not to write about it.

Authors wrote stuff that reflects the best of our society. There were exceptions, like Kurt Vonnegut, Sol Stein, JD Salinger, and others, but even in their societal exposé there was a certain purity of heart. Perhaps censorship made careful writers out of them, perhaps the muzzle carried over in all aspects of media, I don’t know, but they were innocent times. Maybe the naiveté made life better, but covering sins like abuse, prejudice, hatred, and persecution, only propagated them.

Do you suppose our society would be different if Woodward and Bernstein hadn’t exposed the Watergate cover-up? Do you think they could’ve written All the President’s Men without witting the graphic language?

There was a time when those words wouldn’t have been published in the national market. As a young idealist, I applauded Wood/Stein (as their editor called them). Like many in my generation, I hated being lied to. In my opinion, All the President’s Men, changed everything.

Today, we live in different times. Writers are quick to spread the word about scandal. Presidents no longer enjoy the privilege they once had. Journalists are now free to pursue and pester everyone, and it gets printed. Authors have freedoms they never had before. Subject matter is myriad. Between LGBT issues, teenage sex, and raw abuse, authors can insert those subjects into their plots. What they choose to add or not, is entirely up to them and their readers.

While watching The Love Boat reruns, I thought of this, the other day. Can you imagine if they made that television series today? Sex would be more open, not implied, gay and lesbian plots would be part of the normal fare. Our society in its raw form would be exposed.

But should we do that? As writers we must reflect life, or we won’t be believed. As LDS market writers, we must abstain. How does a writer decide? Are we selling our souls, (so to speak), if we write about those things? Can we look back on a career of writing sexual adventures and be proud. How much money would it take?

Good luck with these questions and your writing—see you next week.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Romance of It

By Keith N Fisher

When I began to write, it was simply a way to relieve stress. I wrote two novels before I got serious. After getting a rejection that suggested I find a workshop or conference, I considered quitting. The editor obviously didn’t understand my work.

It took a few weeks, but I finally acquiesced. The manuscript wasn’t ready, neither was the writing. I went to the library and checked out writing books. I consulted the Internet, looking for workshops. Most importantly, I began the rewrite my novel.

I deleted some things, added so much more. In the meantime, I started another book, then another. Plot ideas occurred to me at some of the most inopportune times, Even whole books, from start to finish. Becoming a better writer wasn’t easy, considering my performance in high school English.

Finally, I found a conference and learned a lot. In one class, we were told, if we write, we are writers and I began to think of myself as a writer. Coming to grips with that presented a few problems. What have you published? What do you write? That’s a great hobby, what do you do for a living? The questions were myriad causing a little doubt. Still, I persevered. How could I not continue? I had characters waking me at night.

After a while, I noticed a sense of pride come over me. Writing was my day job, I was being paid for some things, but writing wasn’t paying the bills. Several books and multiple blog posts later, I started a critique group. We met once a week and I’ll always be grateful for their help.

It was about that time, I fell in love with the idea being a successful writer. I dreamed of the mountain retreats and beach houses I would purchase after becoming a best seller. I wasn’t fooling myself, however. I knew the LDS market would never bring that kind of money, but it was fun to dream about.

The romance of being a writer kept me going. Others have moved into the e-book and self-published markets, with great results, but I’ve held out. The validation that comes from a traditional publishing contract keeps me working.

Because of my love affair with being a writer, I’ve written many books. (Maybe somebody can self publish them after I’m dead). Maybe I’ll bring out several books a year and never have to write something new.

I’ve changed my direction, though. I’m writing national market, non-LDS. With the restrictions gone, my writing has gone in several directions. I might have to publish some of this stuff under a pseudonym, but it’s good stuff, none the less.

So I sit here deeply involved in my romance. I am a writer who probably should’ve started in the nineteen-seventies. Writing back then was a different, reclusive thing. I could’ve rested on my mountaintop retreat, knocking out book after book.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.