Thursday, March 16, 2023

Some Thoughts on Writing Fiction by Marilyn Levinson

My non-writing friends think I'm lucky to be a writer because writing gives me a purpose that occupies my days. They know I'm part of a world filled with fellow authors, readers and publishers.

Being a writer means I always have projects that require my attention, often with a deadline. First and foremost is writing my current WIP—work in progress. I'm often working on edits for the book scheduled to be published in a few months. That requires a great deal of marketing: guest blogs, and interviews, posting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as writing my monthly newsletter, and seeing to other tasks that arise and need my attention.

As a fiction writer, I am constantly learning. There are the electronic ABCs of being a writer: knowing how to post photos and stories all over the web. These "devices" like stories and reels keep on changing and we writers better keep up with these changes if we want readers to find out about our books. I'm still learning how to make changes on my website, and one day I'll learn how to make a YouTube webinar. For now, I'm content to be interviewed or part of a panel and having my host or hostess take care of putting them up for others to see.

The great thing about writing fiction is you're always creating something new. Honestly, it's kinda scary as well. I write mysteries, which means each book needs a new set of issues or problems, suspects and victims that are presented in a fresh, appealing way. This involves doing research on whatever subject that book is about. A few topics I've read up on are: bank robberies, how to tell a diamond from a fake, the correct order in a wedding procession, witch hangings in Connecticut, and art forgery. The array of topics that lend themselves to murder and mayhem is endless.

Like many fiction writers, my first attempts at writing were short stories. From there I went on to write novels for kids and then on to writing mysteries for adults. Since one of my children's books will come out in a new edition next month and I'll be following it up with three more books in the series, I've been thinking that many fiction writers write in more than one genre or form. While I write mysteries and books for kids, many of my fellow mystery authors write mystery short stories as well as novel. I suppose I started writing books for kids because I was home with my two sons; I began to write mysteries because I love to read them.

What's the difference between writing a book for kids and a book for adults? The only answer I can offer is that regardless of the type of book I'm writing, I'm in the protagonist's head and seeing things from his or her perspective. So if I'm in ten-year-old Rufus's head, I'm thinking like a ten-year-old who suddenly discovers his magical powers. If I'm inside thirty-year-old Carrie Singleton's head, I'm aware of her responsibilities as head of programs and events at the Clover Ridge Library and her aptitude for solving murders. I suppose my language level varies depending on what kind of book I write, but that happens naturally. I've never over-simplified my language in a kids' book. Just thinking as a person of a certain age takes care of that.

I've no idea why so many of my books include a paranormal element. This has always come about in a most natural way, going back more than twenty years when I first wrote my mystery, Giving Up the Ghost. A ghost plays a role in my Haunted Library series as well as in my kids' novel Getting Back to Normal. Rufus is a witch like his mother, grandmother, aunt and evil uncle. Perhaps there's no need to come up with a reason why I often include a paranormal element in my books since "other creatures" appear in our fairy tales and literature. Think of Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Topper, and Aladdin, to name a few. All part of our heritage and as real to us as Sherlock Holmes and Robin Hood.

Writing fiction is a delight. It's hard work. It's a privilege to create characters in stories that people will read and remember and talk about.


  1. Hi Marilyn -- an interesting insight into your writing process. I suppose it's always a bit paranormal when we see the world through another's eyes (even if we made up the other!)

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on writing fiction. You've mastered such a variety!

  3. Live reading your thoughts on this, Marilyn. You have it right. Fortunate, lucky, an honor.

  4. Jim,
    You're right! There is something paranormal about fiction.

    I think every story and novel is unique in its own way.

    Thank you!

  5. What a great overview! It is curious about that paranormal thing. I didn’t realize the other world showed up in so much of your work!

  6. Kait,
    The paranormal became a part of my work early on. Even the first children's book I wrote that was never published had ghost children in them.

  7. A delight, an honor, and hard work - yes!
    Fascinated by your mention of Connecticut witch history. I've read a bit about it and hadn't realized that Connecticut had witch trials before Salem!

  8. I love this post, Marilyn. That paranormal thing - my work is haunted by it, too. My new series (first book coming in July 2024) features the ghost of an accidental pirate. Building on Jim's comment, and something I haven't until now put much thought into, but writing fiction is kind of paranormal. Especially when our characters start walking around and carrying on with each other in our heads.

  9. Thanks, Molly. Good luck with your new series. I think many authors are including the paranormal in their books these days. I'm not sure why, but I think it's our way of connecting with people/characters who are no longer on this plane but who might continue to influence the present, at least in the way history influences the present. And we are always curious about what happens to us after death.

  10. Thanks for the nice overview of your writing. Many of us are doing the same things, but all of us do them a little differently. I love inside glimpses.

  11. Kaye,
    I love that we have many different ways to write out stories, and that our stories can go in so many different directions.

  12. What a great post, Marilyn! I really enjoyed your insights and the peek into your writing life. Can't wait for your next series!