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August 2018: Writing Advice
~ Helen B. Henderson ~

CTR asked:
QUESTION: What is the one piece of writing advice that has stuck with you and why? (Something other than ‘write what you know.’)

Helen B. Henderson said:
First off, while I practice “pass it along” and try to help the next generation of writers as I was helped, I don’t like to give “advice” as such. Writing is just too individual an activity and our readers are just as varied. There are books, blog posts, and online webinar after webinar filled with advice of how to write the best seller. Sometimes the information is valuable, other times it’s just common sense. It could make you rich or fill the coffers of the one who wrote the book or course. However, after filtering through all the advice I’ve given, or received, over the years, I’ll just give one about dealing with our characters. However, it is not the usual advice of making them likeable or giving them flaws.

Many authors will tell you that their characters not only become real to them, their creations take on a life of their own. More than once I’ve heard someone tell how a scene was not just working for them. Then they stopped and listened to their characters and realized the scene was being told from the wrong point-of-view. When they changed which character was telling the story, the problem vanished.

I admit to starting off each project as a plotter. You may ask what that as to do with characters. When I first start writing a piece, I only know a little about a character. I might not know their name, but I have some of their backstory and their present circumstances noted in my novel notebook. Then as the outline develops and I get further along in the story, the main characters not only develop, they step off the page and take over. Events that I had jotted down a few lines for never happened, or at least the way I envisioned.

So the piece of advice? If your characters start talking to you, don’t forget to listen to them. After all, the book you are writing is not your story, it is theirs.


Windmaster by Helen B. Henderson cover

Windmaster (The Windmaster Novels, Book 1)

[Fantasy Romance Swords and Sorcery, MF]

Revenge set Ellspeth, captain of Sea Falcon, on the path to her destiny, but prophecy controlled the journey. Despite his insolent attitude, she is attracted to the dark-haired dockworker she hires to help unload the vessel’s cargo. The supposed dockhand reveals his true identity as Lord Dal, the last member of the Council of Wizards, and her passenger. His presence on board ship brings with it more than an impossible liaison. Bringing him back from near-death releases Ellspeth’s latent powers and threatens her captaincy. For to have magic she must give up the sea.

In accordance with an ancient prophecy, Dal allows Ellspeth to be handfasted to him without her knowledge or consent. However, the prophecy doesn’t state whether she will return his love. A likelihood threatened when Dal is captured and stripped of his powers by fanatical clerics bent on ridding the world of magic and those who wield it. His one chance to survive is to keep secret the key to breaking him—his feelings for Ellspeth.

Trapped within the Oracle’s Temple, Ellspeth must choose between her own survival, saving the future of magic… or love.

Available in Ebook:

Angus Robertson (AU)


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