Tuesday, June 30, 2015

WANT TO WRITE CONTEMPORARY FICTION?





SUMMARY OF IN FIREFLY ALLEY

She’s lost her dream job—but has she found the man of her dreams?

Devastated by a downsizing, Marisa St. George has no choice but to return to the small Texas town where she grew up. Though it means a giant step backward, she accepts a position as business manager at the struggling Rainbow’s End resort. The only silver lining: Blake Kendall, a new guest who might make her believe in love at first sight. But will Marisa’s dreams of happily-ever-after be turned upside down when she discovers Blake’s real identity?

This warm and witty story of dreams deferred and mistaken identity will have you believing in second chances.

 MEET AUTHOR AMANDA CABOT

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages.  Amanda is delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming. 


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The Challenge of Writing Contemporary Fiction

By Amanda Cabot

When aspiring authors tell me they’re writing contemporaries because it’s easier, I do my best not to laugh.  The reality is, a contemporary is just as difficult as an historical, although the challenges are different.  Let’s talk about a few.
Challenge #1: Location – Are you planning to use a real or a fictional location?  There are advantages and disadvantages to both.  Real locations engage readers immediately, but if you choose one, be certain you’ve got all the details right.  The last thing you need is a reader telling you there’s no bakery at the corner of Fifth and Main.  (While real locations in historicals face this same challenge, there are fewer people who can say with certainty whether or not that bakery existed at the time you set your book.)  Fictional locations give you more flexibility.  You decide what building is on which corner.  The downside is that you have to do more work to create a fictional location.  If you a choose a fictional location, I strongly recommend creating a map of it.
Challenge #2: Date – Will your story be set in a specific year or in what is sometimes called the ‘timeless present’?  The advantage to using a specific timeframe is similar to that or choosing a real location – reader identification.  The disadvantage is that, depending on how many details you include that are date-specific, your book may feel outdated within a couple years. 
Challenge #3: Technology – How much technology will you include?  This is a corollary to the second challenge.  If you’ve chosen a specific date for your story, there is no reason not to include references to all the current technology.
  Readers who pick up the book twenty years from now may be amused by what seems antiquated to them but was state-of-the-art in 2015, but they’ll know that they’re reading a period piece.  On the other hand, if your goal is to create an evergreen story, you’d be better served by minimizing references to things that will likely be dated.  The same advice applies to pop culture references.
Challenge #4: Research – Do you think contemporaries require less research than historicals?  Repeat after me: all writing requires research.  It’s true that research for contemporaries is different from historicals, but it’s still essential that your details are correct.  If anything, readers are more critical of contemporary authors who get their facts wrong because it’s so easy to get them right.  Do you have a scene involving a fire investigation?  Interview a fire chief to make sure you’ve used the correct terminology and have properly described the procedures the investigators use.  Is your story set in a real location you’ve never visited?  Besides studying the related web sites, you might call the Chamber of Commerce to learn little known facts that will give your story added authenticity.  Research, research, research.  Yes, it takes time, but your readers will thank you.

The bottom line is simple.  Writing is hard work, whether the story is set in contemporary or historical times.  The key is to ensure that you’re writing the book of your heart, the one that wakes you in the middle of the night.  That’s the book you’re meant to write.