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Writing Q&A

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Yay! It's Q&A day!! :)

Thanks so much for posting these questions! What fun! :)

~~~~ Sarah asks: How did you "decide" what kind of writer you wanted to be? I guess more correctly, *did* you decide? Or did you just naturally find your voice, your characters, the genre you write etc? Lol, does any of that make sense?

I'm sure there was a point where I started writing fiction, but I just don't remember. I've been writing stories since I was old enough to hold a crayon. :)

As for my "voice", I've dabbled in a bunch of different genres. I've written mysteries, suspense, and I guess what would be labeled "women's fiction". Each book had a different voice, a different feel. It wasn't until I started writing the very first words of Miss Match that I discovered how my own voice could come out in the story and that's when I learned how much I loved writing chick-lit. :)

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Stephany asks: I just want to know how to do keep the book going? How do you keep the pace steady and not too drawn out, but also not cleaning everything up too quickly? I hope this makes sense. As much as I want to write, the thought of writing a whole BOOK is a daunting task.

This is where those Weird Outliner People jump in and say, "OUTLINE THE BOOK!". :)

I'm not going to do that. :) I don't outline, I never have, and the times when I've had to for writing assignments, I've about tossed my computer through the window.

How do you keep a story going? Keep writing. Don't let the left side of your head pop in when you are in the middle of a creative moment. Write, write, write and when you've written the words "The End", go back and look at the pace of the story. When I sit down to work in the morning, I usually read back through the last chapter and get the pace and flow of the story in my head and then start writing again. Trust your instincts.

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Jessica asks: Do you ever get "writer's block" and if you do, what do you do to fix this problem?

Yup. I definitely get Writer's Block! What I usually do is this: Put the story away. Close my laptop, get away from my desk. I go for a long walk or workout somehow. I try to get my creativity back by doing other creative things - cooking, being my favorite. :) I read other books in that genre to inspire me.

If I do all of that and I'm still stuck, I'll read back through to the point where I feel like I first started running out of steam. Then, I'll cut from there to the end, paste it in a new document (just in case!), and start writing again where I cut the section out.

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Erin asks: I LOVE to write and my mom thinks I am an amazing writer but how do I know if it is something I just like to do and something God doesn't really want me doing?

First, I need to clarify a little of my theology. :) I believe that God gives talents for us to use them. So, if you're talented in writing and you love to write, then by all means, write. I don't think God gives us the talent for something for us to never use it. Does that mean that every person who is talented at writing will make a living doing it? No. But it does mean that God will use that gift however He decides.

For example, Jon is a very talented singer. He probably will never become a singer for a living, but he does sing in church. And it does bring glory to God.

See what I mean? :)

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Anonymous asks: How do you feel about writing your story from two different viewpoints?

Betsy St. Amant had a great answer for this question! So I'll post it here! Betsy said: "My response about two different viewpoints is - I feel great! =) Romances are typically written from two point of views - the hero and the heroine. Chick lit stories or first person stories are generally told just from the heroine's point of view. But most publishers prefer for contemporary romances to have both the male and female lead's viewpoints."

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Anonymous asks: I want to write books that honor God and lead people closer to Him, but I also have an idea for a fantasy book, one that wouldn't work if I had Christianity as we know it in there. You know, sort of an alternate world. How could I show that I'm a Christian and pursue this book idea at the same time?

You can definitely still portray Christ in a fantasy novel! Look at C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia - those books showed the gospel in a different world. I think C.S. Lewis actually wrote a more powerful Christ-proclaiming story than most contemporary Christian novels. If nothing else, go for the "symbols" of Christianity - read the book of Revelation in the Bible and the book of Daniel. Those books are full of pictures and symbols of Christ. Does that make sense? :)

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Stephany asks: I know Jenness Walker answered it but are there any other helpful hints (or maybe things you do) when you are working on a story but keep having so many ideas for other stories bombarding your mind?

Oh gosh - deadlines seem to just make the new ideas flow even more obnoxiously! Here's what I do: I write down the idea, sometimes even a few chapters. I tell someone about it. Then I push save and close it. Usually, if I can get that initial thought on the page, I'm able to focus on my deadline again.

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Anonymous asks: I would love to borrow some of your ideas! My problem is that I can't come up with any really good ones...

There is a site called writersdigest.com. You can sign up for a daily or weekly "prompt", and they will email you an idea for a short story. You can always flesh it out and make it a novel! Or, if you can find it, there's a little book called The Writers Block which is shaped like a block! There's something like 300 ideas in there.

Also, look around you. What's happening in your life? What's happening in your family's life? What's your favorite holiday and why? Who is your best friend? Who is someone you can't stand?

Mix and match everything to create a plot and a storyline. And give yourself time - one day, you'll be sitting there trying to concentrate on something else and before you know it, you'll have a full-fledged novel running through your head! :)

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Anonymous asks: Here's a sort of unrelated question, but one that has been troubling me nonetheless. What are Lauren Holbrook's feelings concerning country music?

Ha! :) Great question! Honestly? I have no idea! But I think she probably would like Rascal Flatts. :)

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Anonymous asks: What would you suggest for someone who loves to read but not write? Just keep reading?

Definitely! Read and read - my mom loves reading, but she doesn't like writing. It's not for everyone!

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Kylie asks: Do you plan our your stories, by outlining or some other method? Do you think that is wise? How do you 'connect' with your characters in such a way that you are able to predict what they'll do next in a story? Do you do character sketching?

Oh wow! Okay. First, I don't outline. I do have a basic synopsis of the story before I start, something that goes along the lines of "This is where I'm beginning, this is how it's going to end". I've only started doing that in recent years. Before, I would start on page one and just let the story go.

I've heard both sides of outlining and not outlining, and it comes down to what you feel comfortable with.

As for connecting with the characters, just write what seems natural for them. Laurie loved chocolate - it wouldn't be natural for her to suddenly start eating salads all the time. She loved romantic comedies - she's not going to suddenly switch to horror. The actions of a character can be predicted the same way.

I do character sketching in a very, very, very loose form - I know what their age is, approximate height, hair and eye color and that's about it. :) Everything else, I find out as I write it.

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Ari asks: Do you always have to do an outline?

Nope! In fact, I never outline!

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Sophie asks: What would you suggest for someone who loves loves loves to read but not write? Just keep reading? Or is there something else I can do?

Just keep reading! One of the best ways to "do something else" is to start a blog of book reviews - I've met some amazing women because they reviewed my book on their blog!

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Kirstie asks: How do you fill in the empty spaces? I have so many key events but I have a hard time filling in the spaces between them. And what are some good ways to expand your story?

I love the power of dialogue when it comes to filling in empty spaces. It can flow so naturally and keeps the pace of the story going.

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Sophie asks: Should all books have sequels? Or does it really matter?

Not all books need sequels, but in today's market, I've been seeing a trend of publishers wanting to publish book series. So, if you have the ideas to keep a series going, definitely keep writing!

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Thank you so much to everyone who submitted a question! If you have more, you can always send me an email at erynnmangum@gmail.com. Or, even better, write some of your favorite authors and see what they think! Everyone is different and every writer has a different style of writing, whether they outline, hate narrative, love fantasy or even sit at a desk or on the couch. :)

I hope everyone is having a fabulous day!

Love,
Erynn :)



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