December 4th, 2017

Writing Fiction Using Family History

Ann Griffin

When, in my fifties, I learned of two cousins and an aunt I had never heard of, their story was so compelling that I decided it needed to be written, and I assigned myself the task. The protagonist and antagonist were both deceased, making it impossible to write it as biography, so I opted for a fictional version of the story, set in and around World War II.

Unfortunately, half way through my first draft, an editor gave me a reality check—or, I should say, a believability check. A husband had rejected his wife for no known reason. I thought this would be a great mystery for the story, but the editor cautioned me, “Your readers will not buy ‘no reason’. Neither will an agent.”

She taught me these lessons:

  • Truth is stranger than fiction. Sometimes too strange to use.
  • Fiction readers care about entertainment. They won’t know or care if the details of your non-famous family are accurate.
  • Your family, however, may well care.
  • You are writing fiction, not memoir or biography.

How much must you change a story to make it fiction?

Even though a family member familiar with the story might recognize him/herself in specific situations, the characters shouldn’t be too recognizable. If the scene containing a real event could be construed as a negative reflection of the real person, be prepared for some flak. For example, Matthew Hooton, the son of close friends during my children’s growing years, wrote Deloume Road, named after our street (Publisher: Knopf Canada; http://matthewhooton.com) It’s a lovely, disturbing book. While it is fiction about a child committing a serious crime, I recognized in his characters, people I knew. Some of those people were not happy with the result, feeling they were ridiculed. So, beware.

To modify your fictional characters, change their appearance, even their race, age, or gender. Journal in their voice, adding new facets of their personality.

To modify the plot, you simply need to follow the rules of craft. Main characters, conflict, rising tension, climax, denouement– all those rules still apply. If you follow them, I guarantee the story will take off in a very different direction from reality.

Give it time. Don’t rush to write fiction about a divorce, six months after you’ve gone through one. With time, you gain some perspective, your emotions calm down, and the people involved change, move, or even pass away.

For living people who, even modified, are close to the story, tell them what you are doing and get their permission, in writing of course. (Thanks, Kathryn Craft, for this tip.) And note, it is not possible to commit libel against the dead.

You will still need to do some research, however.

Family letters give insight into the time they were written. I was blessed to have my mother’s firsthand account of travelling to England during World War II. These details are dynamite for fiction, and I used them in my upcoming book, “Another Ocean to Cross.”

Eyewitness accounts are incredibly valuable. I found a small non-fiction book about two rather clueless young American women who toured Germany in 1938, and worked some of their experience into my manuscript. Ditto the account of a woman who worked as a nurse in North Africa during WW2.

Family photos can be a treasure trove of information about clothing, hairstyles, and furnishings.

Family member interviews, if possible. Ask them the questions no-one asks – the forbidden topics.

If you are writing about a century ago or longer, chances are you won’t have eyewitness accounts or photos. Research the period in which your story occurs. Living family members may still be shocked by what you learn.

Great sources of information:

  • Pinterest.com: But be careful that the photo you choose is what you’re looking for.
  • Online photos: Same caution applies. And if you plan to use the photo in your book, be sure to get permission.
  • Museums and local historical records.
  • Libraries, especially rare book collections.
  • Interlibrary loans.
  • Genealogical searches, such as http://ancestry.com .
  • Government statistics such as census data.
  • Biographies and memoirs.
  • Websites and organizations devoted to the time period.
  • Wikipedia.com: Be sure to click through to the quoted sources.

Beta Readers:

I caution you against using family members as beta readers. They will say, “It didn’t happen that way!”– completely missing the point.

Get writer friends, or well-read friends to look over your first draft or two, then polish it up and send it to your editor.

 

Do you have a family story that make be a good jumping-off point for your fiction? Do you have a question about using family history in a fictional work that Ann can help you with?

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About Ann 

Ann comes from a family of adventurous women. An immigrant twice herself (to Canada and to the USA,) she understands the challenges of being uprooted, and remaking a life in a new place.

Her mother, who wrote her life story which Ann blogged about in http://www.my101years.com , first inspired Ann with tales of life in the early twentieth century, so it was a natural step for Ann to begin writing when she discovered stories that needed a voice.

Her fictional yet factual, “Interview with John Middlemore” was published in the September issue of British Home Child Advocacy and Research Association Magazine. Her second article for the same magazine is due out in December.

She is currently blogging behind the scenes looks at writing historical fiction, and little-known facts she unearthed doing research for her first novel, Another Ocean to Cross, which is due out in March 2018.

Ann is a dual US/Canadian citizen. She divides her time between Mesa, Arizona and Toronto, Canada, with her husband, Art, and their Old English Sheepdog. When not writing, she can be found at the golf course, or singing with her church choir.

You can reach Ann on Facebook at http://facebook.com/anngriffinwriter or on Twitter at @anngborn2write. Her website is http://anngriffinwriter.com . Her blog address is http://anngriffinwriter.com/blog

Ann will be posting information about her forthcoming book, Another Ocean to Cross, including how to pre-order. To be on her mailing list, email her at info@anngriffinwriter.com .

December 1st, 2017

Why Writers Need Those “Never Again” Moments

Colleen M. Story

 

Whenever I visit a pier—any pier—one of my favorite things to do is to walk along and read all the boat names.

It’s fun to see what people choose to call their watercraft, but I’ve also found that when I’m lucky, one of the names will have something special to say to me.

One year in Florida, for example, I found this one:

Notice the name: “Persistence.”

At the time, I hadn’t yet received that traditional publishing contract I so desired, and I felt like the boat was telling me something.

I posted this picture on my computer wallpaper until I finally got that contract a short time later. I still take a look at it now and then, as a reminder when my endurance is running low.

This year, I got a chance to visit a pier in the Pacific Northwest, so I took a walk, reading the boat names along the way. Miss Elaine. Stormbreaker. Judy. Griffin. Aurora. Winona.

And then, I spotted this one:

Can you see it? In case you can’t quite read the name, here’s a close-up:


It says: Never Again IX.

 When I saw that, I stopped and laughed out loud. Not just “never again,” but “never again for the ninth time.” Yeah, I could relate.

How about you?

Sometimes, a Writer Has to Imagine Letting it All Go

I was coming off a very busy time in my writing life, having just launched my first self-published non-fiction book, after traditionally publishing a novel the year before and another novel the year before that, all while maintaining a full-time freelance writing business, conducting writing workshops at various conferences, and building the readership for my website, Writing and Wellness.

You know how it goes. It had been an extremely busy three years, exciting but stressful. I’d learned a ton, but I was tired. Exhausted even. I had to take a break, so I was on vacation, and I was loving it. While I enjoyed the great weather and hiked some beautiful trails, I was thinking over everything in my professional life. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do any of it anymore—the novels, the website, the workshops.

When I thought about it, I just felt tired. Why do all this?  I wondered. Is it really getting you anywhere?

I let the idea of “never again” come into my mind. Never again will I worry about writing a novel and publishing it. Never again will I worry about getting fresh and interesting blog posts up every week. Never again will I take on the work of presenting a workshop. Never again will I spend weeks writing guest posts and running online tours and giveaways and what not to market a book. 

Instead, I could simply focus on my freelance work. I could do my assignments, and then enjoy oodles of free time. Imagine it! Once work was over, I wouldn’t have to shift gears and write some more. I could just enjoy myself. Like most people do, right?

Take more walks. Play more music. Spend more time with friends. Read. Wander.

What a concept! It was delicious, and for a while, I let myself think about it. Really think about it. I wasn’t just toying with the idea. I was actually giving myself permission:

When you get back from vacation, you don’t have to do any of it anymore if you don’t want to.

 Have you ever experienced one of those lovely sighs of relief, how the air just exits your body and your muscles unravel and you close your eyes and think, yes, that is what I’ll do?

 It feels wonderful. I highly recommend it.

 Never Again…Again

The actor Daniel Craig has been James Bond four times. After his fourth movie was released in 2015, he promised: never again. He was done.

According to The Guardian, he said he would “rather slash my wrists” than reprise the role. “We’re done,” he said. “All I want to do is move on.”

Never again.

Then in August 2017, The Guardian reported that while on “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert, Craig confirmed he would be playing Bond one more time in a fifth film, set to hit theaters in November 2019.

“I think this is it,” he said. “I just want to go out on a high note and I can’t wait.”

Craig may have gotten some backlash for the back and forth, but I can understand it. He admitted he was exhausted after filming Spectre, and that his ill-thought-out negative comments were made just two days after the last day of shooting.

He added that after it was over, he just needed a break. 

Don’t we all?

Thus, the fishing boat. Sitting peacefully in the pier.

Never Again IX.

Never Again is a Delicious Thought

I can’t imagine being a fisherman. The ocean is so unforgiving. I’ve been out on it only a couple times in the summertime weather and have been amazed at the strength and harshness of the winds, the unrelenting current. I can’t imagine being on it all season long. There’s a reason old-time fisherman look weathered, their skin like leather.

With what little I know, I can surely understand thinking never again. Why keep it up? Why go out there year after year, when the fish are disappearing, the regulations increasing, the income diminishing, and the way of life getting more and more difficult every year?

Sound familiar?

Why indeed? A fisherman asked himself that question, apparently nine times. And his answer was sitting there in the pier, the little white boat with the maroon accents, ready to venture forth into the unpredictable ocean waters…again.

Just as my answers are sitting on my laptop—my next novel, in progress, and my next non-fiction, in progress.

Sometimes, we just need to allow ourselves to imagine it. We could let it all go. We could choose another way of life. We could say goodbye to it all.

So soothing to picture, to feel. Without never again, we might actually quit.

Instead, it allows us to regroup, relax, and let the creative bubbles rise under the bow.

The sea is calling.

Have you had a NEVER AGAIN moment? Have you had a NEVER AGAIN 3 or 5 or 9 moment?

ABOUT COLLEEN

Colleen M. Story is the author of Overwhelmed Writer Rescue: Boost Productivity, Improve Time Management, and Replenish the Creator Within—a motivational read full of practical, personalized solutions to help writers escape the tyranny of the to-do list and nurture the genius within. Discover your unique time personality and personal motivational style, and learn how to keep self-doubt, perfectionism, and workaholism from stealing your writing time. Available at all common book retailers. (Get your free chapter here!)

Colleen is also a novelist and has worked in the creative writing industry for over twenty years. She is the founder of Writing and Wellness. For more information, please see her author website, or follow her on Twitter (@colleen_m_story).

Sources

Peter Walker and Nancy Groves, “Daniel Craig: I’d rather slash my wrists than play James Bond again,” The Guardian, October 8, 2015

Hannah Ellis-Peterson, “Daniel Craig confirms he will play James Bond again,” The Guardian, August 16, 2017

November 29th, 2017

Everything I Need To Know About Writing, I Learned at Dairy Queen

Kimberly Brock

There was this time when I was in college and working at a local outlet mall around the holidays so everything in my memory is a blur of gift wrap, cinnamon scented candles and rude people. But there was a Dairy Queen at the entrance to the mall and so almost daily, I ran through the drive-through for something – a burger, or a blizzard. I’d sit in the parking lot and eat and watch the traffic and try to find a Zen place before entering the fray.

There were plenty of people to watch and even though I wasn’t yet aware that this quirk in my personality that made me a serial observer would one day serve me well as a writer, I was already practicing my craft. I loved to imagine who the people were and what their lives were like, and most of the time I was absolutely certain of my deductions.

As I said, I was very young. Things and people seemed more cut and dry, black and white, good and bad, to me then. My own life experiences were fairly limited. They say to write what you know and I was filling journals with childhood memories, bad poetry, and romantic notions, but not much else. Not because I didn’t know anything else, but because I couldn’t write everything I knew. To write everything I knew meant to expose the addictions, abuses and broken places in my family and community, and I wasn’t interested in those kinds of betrayals. To write everything came at a cost that was too high.

And then I saw her. The Dairy Queen.

On the sidewalk, she sat like a squat toad under a bundle of brown clothes that obviously didn’t fit her. Her gray hair was thin and pulled hard off her face into a tight knot at the back of her head. Her face was hard and tight and dark from the sun. Her jaw was set in that strange angle of those without teeth and her eyes were slits, suspicious and mysterious and somehow threatening. I saw her in great detail because I’d pulled into the drive-through line and my car was stopped directly in front of her. I couldn’t ignore her. I couldn’t stare at her. She made me nervous and I remember checking to be sure my doors were locked, as if she might suddenly jump up and hop in my car.

My entire reaction embarrassed and shamed me, the girl with a journal full of sweet, clean little girl stories. She held a cardboard sign, you know the kind. I wish I could say that I clearly recall what it read but you can guess: Homeless. Need food. Please help.

I won’t lie to you. I wanted to look away. I felt I had no idea what to do. Except, I knew exactly what to do, but was afraid to do it. When I look back on this memory I realize that feeling visits me frequently in my writing choices and that’s a strange realization. We’re presented with choices in life and in our work and we can look away and make excuses or we can have the courage to act, to take a hard look and know something for what it is, to name it and face it. Maybe it’s not the same, altogether, but there’s some essence of dignity that comes in being honest with ourselves, with others – with our readers.

The everything that I knew – all the things I couldn’t honestly write about yet – told me that if I rolled my window down and gave the Dairy Queen a twenty dollar bill, she wouldn’t use it to put food in her belly or to take a cab to wherever she could sleep for the night. She drink it. Or worse. It would be taken from her. The everything told me to pull out of the drive through line, park my car, and speak to the Dairy Queen. And for some reason, I did. For some reason, that particular day, I was prepared to meet her. Whether she was prepared to meet me was a different story and that’s what I’m really getting to here, but let me explain.

When I reached out to take her hand and introduce myself, she looked frightened. And honestly, angry. My hand was empty and she was looking for that twenty from my wallet. But I gave her my name, instead. She did not give me hers. I didn’t mind. I’d already named her, anyway. Then I told her that if she would wait – go inside and have a seat where it was warm – I would buy her a meal, run to the grocery store to get her a few things, and be right back to call her a cab to take her to the local shelter for the night.

I will never be sure that she wanted – or needed – any of the things that I offered. She never thanked me. She never spoke to me, at all, in fact. She looked completely stunned and even more than that, annoyed. But she didn’t turn down the free cheeseburger. I paid for her meal and left her sitting in a booth while I ran to the nearest grocery store and filled two bags with cans of soup, peanut butter, nuts, crackers, tuna and a few chocolate bars, because I thought they would make her smile. The everything I knew told me that what she wanted me to come back with were alcohol and cigarettes, and chocolate would go unappreciated. But it also told me that it had been a long time since someone tried to take care of the Dairy Queen, who might not even still be waiting in that booth by the time I hurried back. And more than anything I could give her, maybe the most important thing was that I return.

Truly, I hadn’t expected to find her there. By the look on her face, she was as surprised to see me. I gave her the bags of groceries and told her a cab would arrive any minute. And I left her there.

I wish I could say that things ended with some kind of miracle. I wish I could say that it was a transformative moment in my life and that I was a better person for having met the Dairy Queen. But the truth is, I already knew her. In fact, I often wonder if I conjured her out of the everything inside myself.

I was ready to meet her that day and I meet her every day since I started to write. Through so many of the characters in my work, I hear her so clearly, all the things she didn’t say to me that day, years ago. All the everything she embodied and I was afraid to expose. I imagine what she saw when a young, well-dressed woman approached her and naively assumed her needs, then ran off to try to meet them with a few bags of groceries and a cab to nowhere. And I try to give to her what I couldn’t give that day – nor to my own dark and silenced stories – I try to give her the chance to speak. For in her silence, at the cost of a little humility, she gave me the gift of my own voice.

Where did you find your voice? We’d like to hear your story.

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About Kimberly

Kimberly Brock is the award winning author of the #1 Amazon bestseller, THE RIVER WITCH (Bell Bridge Books, 2012). A former actor and special needs educator, Kimberly is the recipient of the Georgia Author of the Year 2013 Award. A literary work reminiscent of celebrated southern author Carson McCullers, THE RIVER WITCH has been chosen by two national book clubs.

Kimberly’s writing has appeared in anthologies, blogs and magazines, including Writer Unboxed and Psychology Today. Kimberly served as the Blog Network Coordinator for She Reads, a national online book club from 2012 to 2014, actively spearheading several women’s literacy efforts. She lectures and leads workshops on the inherent power in telling our stories and is founder of  Tinderbox Writer’s Workshop. She is also owner of Kimberly Brock Pilates.

She lives in the foothills of north Atlanta with her husband and three children, where she is at work on her next novel. Visit her website at kimberlybrockbooks.com for more information and to find her blog.

November 27th, 2017

Transformational Gratitude

Kathryn Craft


As you sat at the table counting and sharing your blessings last week, I’ll venture there was an entire subset of “blessings” that you skirted past. Because, frankly, to say them aloud would ruin everyone’s appetite. Now that your feast is digested, I’m going to suggest you seek the truth in the following statement:

We writers should be grateful for every painful event that ever challenged us.

Why would we want to be grateful for accidents, assaults, roadblocks, and acts of omission? It’s a fair question. If it were up to me, the world would never know one more case of despair that resulted in a mass shooting or suicide. We would never again have to hear the rallying cry, #metoo. We’d be able to keep everyone employed so that no one would go hungry or have to live out of their cars or suffer due to lack of healthcare.

But all of us are graduates of the school of hard knocks, and we didn’t get to design the classroom. Writers, in particular, are sensitive to the injuries we’ve sustained. They made us feel utterly powerless. Why should we feel grateful?

Because these intense pressures inspired us to arise to the hard work of writing stories that matter. We understand that such challenges served as the grit that, with additional layers of perspective, become the pearl that is our unique voice.

I’ll admit that there are certain trials that are exceedingly hard to be grateful for. But what’s the alternative? We can’t change the past. Murdering our transgressors isn’t a particularly life-affirming option. We could rail against humanity till the end of our days, but how will that give us meaningful lives, let alone one single moment of peace or joy? Rising above our torment by being grateful for the lessons it confers makes a story worth telling, whether you funnel that wisdom into fiction or memoir. The courageous determination to create a life worth living inspires readers.

Gratitude signals that we have moved beyond the outrage we once felt. Inciting outrage in our reader isn’t a bad thing—it shows that the pressures on our characters are acute—but I know from experience that outrage is not the place from which you can write your best novel. An early reader of my debut told me my character was too angry, and suggested I imbue her with some of the strength that allowed me to get beyond my first husband’s suicide. Clearly I wasn’t yet quite as healed as this reader made me out to be! But her feedback gave me a useful benchmark: I knew that my characterization of Penelope Sparrow would be complete once her actions exuded an admirable strength. In many ways, Penelope and I healed together. By freeing me from anger, gratitude allowed me to enter the perspectives of my characters in a way that resulted in a more nuanced—and ultimately more powerful—tale.

Gratitude for our life’s journey is a choice. It is not easy work. No one wants a seed of discord to be placed in her hand, and no one would blame you for casting yours onto the pavement and letting it bounce away. But if instead you planted that seed of discord in your fertile mind, let your spirit rain down upon it, and crack it open, you will watch it grow into a story whose testament to the human spirit will shine through your unique perspective. You might be writing fiction, but the hard-won truths you share will have your readers shuddering with recognition. Its impact will be profound.

Not yet ready to embrace gratitude? Maybe you have to back up a few steps, and first acknowledge that these episodes actually injured you. Then you’ll need to accept that with work, and time, you have the power to make these events into a meaningful part of your life’s journey. Acceptance allows you to let go of your anger so you can embrace the gratitude that will help you move on.

Fierce gratitude can transform your life and your writing. Try it. The world needs more people who will take on this important work.

Have you used a trial from your own life to inform something in your fiction? It may not be direct—more than my experience as a dancer, it was my miscarriages that informed my sense of Penelope Sparrows disappointment that her body stood out as different from others in the dance world. We wont compare our trials—a broken fingernail can be disastrous for a hand model raising a child on her own—but lets paint a mural of gratitude by showing how weve used our trials to drive our fiction.

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Kathryn Craft  is the award-winning author of two novels from Sourcebooks, The Art of Falling and The Far End of Happy, and a developmental editor at Writing-Partner.com, specializing in storytelling structure and writing craft. Her chapter “A Drop of Imitation: Learn from the Masters” was included in the writing guide Author in Progress, from Writers Digest Books. Janice Gable Bashman’s interview with her, “How Structure Supports Meaning,” originally published in the 2017 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, has been reprinted in The Complete Handbook of Novel Writingboth from Writer’s Digest Books.

November 24th, 2017

Dual Timelines – Tips & Tricks

Hannah McKinnon

Nonlinear narratives – stories where events don’t happen in chronological order – are extremely useful for tension and pacing, but can be confusing to read and are notoriously difficult to write.

Movies such as Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and The Usual Suspects have nonlinear structures, as did the rom-com Sliding Doors. But visual cues can more readily demonstrate the subtle time shifts a reader might otherwise miss in a novel (cue Gwyneth Paltrow’s different haircuts).

Attempting a nonlinear narrative for my first novel was ambitious, although I was no stranger to stories with that structure. Josie Lloyd & Emlyn Rees’ The Boy Next Door, Jojo Moyes’ The Girl You Left Behind or Lisa Jewell’s The House We Grew Up In are all examples of books I’d enjoyed. I was used to being shifted back and forth in time, and liked the suspense it created – unravelling the past and the present a little at a time, and in alternating chapters, always a source of excitement.

Both of my novels have nonlinear timelines. My first, Time After Time, had a simple premise; unhappy, forty-something Hayley wonders about the choices she’s made. One morning she wakes up married to her first boyfriend, Chris, whom she hasn’t seen in twenty years.

At this point the nonlinear narrative kicks in – back to the late 80s when Hayley met Chris, how their relationship started and subsequently fell apart. Then, in the alternate present, Hayley learns how her life would be had she and Chris stayed together. Hayley gets these glimpses with her other exes, too.

My second novel The Neighbors (available March 13, 2018) was more complicated because it has four viewpoint characters (and goes against point 3 below, which I ignored at my own peril!). The Neighbors is about two families, and deeply buried secrets that resurface, setting everyone on a destructive collision course. The first chapter shows an accident from 20 years ago, while the second is in the present. Over the course of the novel, and through a changing timeline, the reader discovers what each character is hiding, and what really happened all those years ago. All worth it in the end, but I’ll admit it led to many tear-your-hair-out moments as I wrote it.

If you think your story might work with a nonlinear timeline, and are unsure how to write it, here are some suggestions to help get you on your time-hopping way:

  • Write your idea as a short story first

A 2,000 word story is easier to lay out in a non-chronological order than an 85,000 word novel. Start small, see how it works, and build from there.

  • Make a story board with sticky notes

Grab two sets of different coloured sticky notes, use one for the past, the other for the present. Write your chapters or scenes in bullet point form, pop them on the board and start playing around with interweaving the timelines.

  • Use one point of view

If you can, stick to your main protagonist’s point of view. Writing a nonlinear story from one person’s perspective will be simpler than attempting to interweave chapters with different timelines and alternate POV’s. You can always consider adding a second (or more) POV’s later.

  • Write the chapters in chronological order

Or make a list of events in chronological order so you fully understand the timeline. If it’s not clear to you, it probably won’t be to your reader, either.

  • Interweave the chapters

Once you’ve written the chapters (or list of events) in chronological order, physically interweave the pages to work out the best possible flow.

  • Ensure the past and present storylines continue in chronological order

Have fun taking your readers back in time but think about time-hopping all over the place or you’ll risk losing them. Confused? Fair enough. This is best illustrated with two examples:

Example 1   Example 2
Chapter 1 January 2017   Chapter 1 February 2017
Chapter 2 April 1985   Chapter 2 May 1985
Chapter 3 February 2017   Chapter 3 January 2017
Chapter 4 May 1985   Chapter 4 April 1985

In Example 1 there are two storylines; one in 2017 and the other in 1985. While the chapters are interwoven present/past, the story of 2017 follows in chronological order (January, February) as does the story set in 1985 (April, May).

In Example 2 the chapters shift from 2017 to 1985. However, they also jump backwards within each year (e.g. February to January of 2017, May to April of 1985). This is difficult to pull off because you’re “double-shifting” the reader.

  • Make the time shifts abundantly clear

Use a chapter heading with “XX years ago” or “Present Day” or simply the date. This will remind the reader which storyline they’re in. Add the character’s name if you have multiple points of view.

  • Ask your beta-readers for feedback

Enquire how they felt about the timeline and the structure of the story. What, if anything, did they find confusing?

I’m editing my third novel, which has (*sighs with relief*) a linear narrative, and I see the attraction of structuring a manuscript this way. It’s saved me lots of head-scratching and under-my-breath muttering about the “ruddy timeline” (but not about the plot or the characters). Then again the story wouldn’t lend itself to a nonlinear narrative, so there’s little point in overcomplicating things for myself or a potential audience.

Whether you use a nonlinear narrative ultimately depends on your story. Start by asking yourself if it’ll make the novel more compelling, and if it’s a journey you think you – and your readers – will want to take. And if the answer is a resounding yes, buckle up, and enjoy the ride. Best of luck!

Have you tried time shifting? Ever wanted to?  Any tips for us? 

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 Hannah Mary was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing. The Neighbors is Hannah Mary’s second novel. She lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons, and is delighted by her twenty second commute. Connect with her on Facebook, on Twitter @HannahMMcKinnon, and on Instagram @HannahMaryMcKinnon. For more, visit her website, www.hannahmarymckinnon.com.