Author Archives: CLW

What is Fiction?

by Lisa Sledge

Fiction is beautiful.

When something difficult comes my way I become a mess. I fall apart. I cry and yell and make all sorts of terrible mistakes. Grace under fire is a foreign concept for me.
In fiction we put our characters in a situation, watch them flail around for a while, and then let them work their way out. They make it to the point in which it ends. For better or worse, there is a conclusion.

A resolution. A sigh.

It’s easy to forget, stuck in the middle of our own problems, that nothing is forever. Fiction reminds us of  the bigger picture. And it gives us heroes. My favorites are the ones who make an even worse mess of life than I do.
Because if they can find a way out of the troubles of their story, their moment, I begin to believe there’s a way out of mine.

Most fiction is not actually fiction at all. In fact, sometimes I think it is more honest than nonfiction. Ever read a politician’s autobiography?

Whatever we write, lets weave truth into our stories. Lets fill the world with hope.
Hope is real.

And so is fiction.

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Three Things Thursday

From Me:

1. Kyra is off to FL, waiting still to hear from her agent and an editor who is interested in her novel.

2. The Haven was picked up as a Scholastic book! I just found out yesterday.

3. Cheri and I are off to meet a couple of editors for lunch. Should be fun. And it will be very safe because I’m driving.

From Me Again:

4. Writing Exercise #1–Your character has to get away, fast. Why is she leaving? Is this expected or not? Is someone after her? What is her first reaction to keeping herself safe?

5. Writing Exercise #2–Your character has to tell a significant other (best friend, boyfriend, parent) about something terrible she has done. What is it? Why did she do this? How does she do the telling?

6. Writing Exercise #3– Every day for 21 days take ten minutes–at the same time and the same place–to brainstorm writing ideas. I’m going to start tomorrow. Same time. Same place. Pad and pencil in hand. Train your brain. Let’s see if something good comes of this exercise. End date will be October 9, 2014.

From Cheryl Van Eck:

For some people, the hardest part of a first draft is the beginning. For others, the murky middle. And for some it’s the climax. 
For me, it’s that part right toward the end of the murky middle, the point of no return that catapults you into the climax. 
It’s not because I don’t know what to do or how to write it. The problem is that it’s the point where I really start to get afraid. 
Novels in my head are beautiful, perfect. When I begin, I’m so excited that the beginning passes in a fantastic oblivion. It’s not until I’m nearly finished with the middle that reality hits–first drafts are terrible. 
Suddenly, I don’t want to finish anymore. My perfect novel had a perfect climax and if I write it, it’ll become like everything else in the first draft. Awful. 
The only thing I can do is sit and write anyway, wincing the whole time. 
What is the hardest part for you to write? Why? And how do you push through? 



Filed under CLW, Exercises, Kyra

Miss America Announced Yesterday!


Now I didn’t watch this last night. I only love a contest when it’s like the opening shows of The X Factor or American Idol.


what kind of Miss America ‘girl’ would your novel be?

what would her talent be?

how would she stand out?

what would make her different from the other girls?

Your job, as a writer, is to make your novel compelling, different, moving–memorable.

Words choice needs to be new–let your character see things in original ways.

Scenes need to be fresh–nothing redone.

And the plot needs to have a twist to it that people don’t figure out.

When this happens you’ll have an editor saying, “It’s a three-peat” about YOU when you continue to sell your books!



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Filed under Character, CLW, Voice, writing process

Dinner and a Movie

Last night was terrific fun.

We had a lot of people show. If we keep doing these, I bet we’ll get a full room. (I’m thinking of another restaurant next time. Just to change things up?)

What do you think about us asking someone to come and read from their pubbed novel next time?

What if, instead of all of us reading, we did a mini-write-a-thon? What if someone spoke on craft?


We should have planned to have Ann Dee read from HER fabulous novel.


You were inspiring all. I loved the fresh voices I heard, the original details and the story you each conveyed in just a few words. It will be lovely to hold your books in my hands–or watch your plays.

Keep writing. We’ll do another one of these in a couple of months.

And we’ll have something writerly happen very soon.

Right, Ann Dee?



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Dinner at Olive Garden!

We will be there at 7:15 to miss the BYU game traffic!

See you soon!

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Three Things Thursday!

1. I’ve reserved a room for us at the Provo Olive Garden (504 W 2230 N, Provo, UT 84604). It’s under my name (Carol). 7 pm. Bring 100-250 words to read. Depending on # of people, we’ll decide the amount to share. Make sure you mark your piece at 100 words, 150, and 200. We’ll also do a freewrite or two–short ones–that we can share tonight, too.


2. from Cheryl Van Eck

I love #FirstWorldProblems. Things like “I have too much dip for my chips. But if I open a new bag of chips, then I’ll have too many chips for my dip.”
So tragic.
What does this have to do with writing? World building.
For many of us, we live in a first world country, which means sometimes our biggest problem is that we have two hours with nothing to do and all 1,000 satellite channels have nothing good on.
But if your character also lives in a first world country, then it means they aren’t generally worried about having water to take a shower, or having a place to sleep, or having food to eat.
What if that changed? What if your character was plopped into a situation where nothing was taken for granted? Think of Ron in the final Harry Potter book. It had never occurred to me that Ron, who was known to be “poor,” had actually led a pretty pampered life. And when that was taken away from him, he cracked under the pressure.
And for a bonus point? In the comments, write your best #FirstWorldProblems!
3. Brenda Bensch
How do you start writing? I mean, right from the very beginning, without any prior experience, the very first day? One way is to write FROM the very beginning. About YOU. Anne Lamott suggested “Start with your childhood… Plug your nose and jump in, and write down all your memories as truthfully as you can.” The claim is that from such memories, you may glean powerful stories, or story ideas, with gripping plots and even important themes. You may need to write a lot about all your early memories to get there, but keep on truckin’ !
So, stuck? Write about YOU!
Finally–my thoughts and prayers go out to anyone who may have lost someone they loved on September 11, 2001. We were all changed by that day. I usually cancel classes, don’t go anywhere, stay at home and watch the horrific footage of what happened 13 years ago. This morning, Carolina and I awoke and lit four candles at the time that first airplane hit the first tower. Tonight, I’ll spend some time with good people, good writers. A moment of thought for all who were lost.


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Why Do I Write?

And why do you?

Last night I watched Saving Mr. Banks with my girls.

Loved it.

But it made me wonder, why do most strong writers put words on  paper? Did he have happy childhood? Did she have an awkward one? Did one something awful happen? Too many? Not enough?

I think I know why I’m stuck at age 12/13.

We lived in Longwood, Fl. My beloved grandmother had been in a car accident and her back was broken. She was in a hospital in Daytona Beach. And my sister was ill and in a hospital in Orlando. We drove to both every day. Without fail. I was in school and my best friend (who shows up in nearly every novel I write in some form or another) sat in front of me in math. One day she turned around and looked me right in the eye. “You’re not the adult,” she said. “You shouldn’t be going to these places every day. You’re too tired. You can’t do your work.”

I couldn’t answer. I was the adult. I wrote the checks, cleaned the house, did the laundry. And drove way too far to visit my nana and my sister, every day.

Saving Mr. Banks reminded me of that.

Made me thankful for my experiences.

And glad I get to write.

What helped fashion you as a writer?




Filed under CLW, Exercises, Life, writing process