The Art of Being Uninventive (Alternate Title: How I Wrote Auburn)

Valerie Thomas gives her insightful views on her current writing idea: choosing real characteristics from herself, and others she knows, then extending/ limiting these as fits the plot. She’s been thrilled that these new, imagined characters took on a life of their own and directed events in her new book Auburn.

Valerie Thomas, Author

I think many writers start off with the idea that they should create every element of a novel from scratch. I did, at any rate. From the characters to scenes and events, my first manuscripts were filled with entirely new, invented elements.

The truth is, it showed. The scenes weren’t vivid, the events weren’t believable, and the characters weren’t interesting. That’s why, with Auburn, I attempted to do the exact opposite: I actively selected memories from my own life. People and places I remembered, and events that naturally grew from their actions and interactions. As much as I’d attempted to invent every element before, I switched to stealing elements from memory.

It seems to have worked. Only time will tell, but based on initial response from beta readers, the characters in Auburn are more compelling, the events are more interesting, and the scenes are easier to picture. Perhaps there is…

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