We have all heard and seen the ramifications of derogatory comments in today’s world. Classic movies and novels have been targets for their portrayal of marginalized and discriminated groups and word usage – many have been ‘edited’ or simply removed from public consumption. There is a fine balance as we create our stories, when including what are seen to be stereotypes, and cultural constraints. We must bring light, empathy and well researched content in order to highlight the struggles of minorities and the marginalized within our narrative.
In essence political correctness is the avoidance of terms that are deemed negative, derogatory, racial slurs, or other verbiage that is exclusive in some way. When writing about the struggles of minorities and the marginalized, an author must be aware of the intent behind the politically incorrect verbiage used in their work and avoid gratuitous content and references. These include using unwarranted, uncalled for, and/or lacking good reason verbiage. And, if it is without merit, purpose or substance, should be revised or even omitted.
By writing about the differences between cultures, people, races, the sexes, we can create a compelling, interesting and wonderful story. We may not please all the people all the time as we are all very different, whether politically correct or not, we all have have prejudices, biases, and faults. Great stories use these differences to create conflict, then resolve that conflict in interesting ways. At all times we need to be sensitive to how someone may view our narrative. It may help to employ a sensitivity reader, who can advise on such diverse subjects as race, culture, religion, gender, sexuality, illness and disability.
If you are unsure of using any content then it is best to seek assistance to ensure you are not causing harm to a minority or culture.
As always enjoy your writing and telling your stories.
I have always loved to read which inevitably led me to tell my own stories. I still have poems and stories I wrote when I was 10 or 12! As for the why, I simply love to tell a good story. Living in a small town, I learned to entertain myself by writing and creating my own worlds.
What drew you to the mystery genre in particular?
I love puzzles – both word puzzles and picture puzzles. I guess it’s only natural that I was drawn to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew as a kid. Funny how I never thought about writing them until I entered a Murder in Ink contest sponsored by a small Ontario publisher for the fun of it. That was how my first book, a novella, was published.
Do you feel a book series suits this genre best and if so why?
With cozy mysteries in particular, book series are a great way to go. Readers become immersed in the main character’s town, business, lives and love to watch them grow as the series goes on. Sometimes while writing in a temporary character, I’ve ended up with a whole new sidekick that sticks around for several more books.
Over time, with each new novel, have you found it is easier to write about your main protagonists?
By book two or three, my main protagonists become old friends and I like to get them in lots of trouble! It’s fun to put obstacles in their paths and see how they handle new situations. In Gilda’s case in my Gilda Wright Mysteries, she’s grown from someone who started working in a karate school to gain some confidence to a woman getting ready to grade for her black belt. She’s the main character who has had the most growth arc so far.
Can you give us some details of your latest book, The Conned Lady?
My two main characters in The Conned Lady are Katie Mullins and Danny Walker.
Readers met them back in The Bookstore Lady when Katie escaped from her bosses who wanted her dead because she knew too much.
Danny, who was investigating the organization, was supposed to keep her safe and lost her. Only to find her again in his hometown.
Together, they faced the bad guys and made sure they were behind bars and developed a romantic relationship through the series.
When the bad guys are suddenly free, Katie needs to confront her past and deal with it – with the help of Danny and their friends.
During it all, they both face insecurities and have doubts until… You’ll have to read The Conned Lady to find out!
What is your writing process?
I don’t have a daily schedule for my writing since I have a full-time job as well. Thankfully, during lock down I ended up working with a couple different writing groups and have blocks of time to write Sunday morning and Monday evening. Aside from that, I take time before work, during lunch, and some evenings when things are quiet. After learning to write around the chaos of work and three kids, I’ve learned to grab the free time when I can get it!
Do you list ideas for each series/protagonist specifically?
I really don’t list ideas for my protagonists. They grow as the story grows.
As for my series, I tend to come up with a main idea for the series then break it down in to 3-5 books that I write blurbs for. Sometimes I stick with them, other times the overall series story line takes a twist and I either juggle around the book blurbs or create new ones.
What do you see for the future of your many series?
My Wild Blue Mystery series has now come to an end – with an ending that will allow me to return to it in the future if I choose to do so.
Right now I’m waffling with ending my Gilda Wright Mysteries with the next novel or write two more.
I originally wrote three book blurbs for my Glitter Bay series, then I created a new character named Quinn who seems very eager to stir up some excitement around Glitter Bay!
As for my Sugarwood Mysteries, Book 2 is in the process with at least one more to follow.
Do you have a specific writing area?
I have a beautiful office space I painted Caribbean blue, but usually end up on the couch with my elderly cat, at the kitchen table in the sunshine, or outside if the weather is good. I don’t like to limit myself as to where and when I write, but find I can pick up a pen and paper any time anywhere.
Diane Bator is a mom of three, a book coach, and the author of over a dozen mystery novels and many works-in-progress. She has also hosted the Escape With a Writer blog to promote fellow authors and is a member of Sisters in Crime Toronto, the Writers Union of Canada, and a board member of Crime Writers of Canada. When she’s not writing and coaching authors, she works for a professional theatre. No surprise she’s written her first play, which may lead to more.
Mandy Eve-Barnett is a multi-genre author writing children’s, YA, and adult books full of adventure and surprising twists in plot and genre. Her passion for writing emerged later in life and she is making up for lost time. With nine books published since 2011, she indulges her muse in creative fiction as well as freelance writing, which you can learn more about at https://tailoredthemedtosuit.wordpress.com/
Mandy regularly blogs at www.mandyevebarnett.com and is a writing community advocate. As secretary of her local writers’ group, the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, and past secretary of the Alberta Authors Cooperative, as well as past-president of the Arts & Culture Council, she lives her creative life to the fullest. She hosts the WFSC monthly writing meetings and also creates writing prompts for their website. She has presented on various writing topics at conferences and seminars. Originally from England, Mandy now resides in Alberta, Canada. You can find Mandy across social media and her books through all the online purchasing sites and her publisher, Dream Write Publishing.
What genres do you write in?
I write multiple genres, as I follow the story rather than a genre when I write. As the characters and story develop it becomes clear which audience and genre the narrative fits into. This is a personal approach, as I have to feel my way through a story rather than conform to a structure.
Tell us a little about your work for adults
I use my life experience and interests to give my writing authenticity even though it may not seem evident within the story itself. For example, my novella series, The Rython Kindom and Rython Legacy are set in medieval England. I regularly visited historical sites when I lived in England so can draw from those experiences and learnt history. Another novel, Life
in Slake Patch, is a speculative fiction story set in an alternative future with a matriarchal society. The seed of the novel idea came from a heated discussion on the perceived place of a woman in our patriarchal society. I feel these themes not only draw in but allow my readers to relate to the story’s basic theme even if they are not consciously aware of them.
What about your books for children?
I have always been fascinated with the magical and mysterious – fairies, dragons, fantastic creatures, as well as the natural world. These two themes are the foundation of my children’s and young adults’ stories. I want my younger readers to love the world they live in, to cherish the flora and fauna within it and to experience a sense of magic. No matter the setting of the story, or the characters within it, there is always companionship, and the message to be true to yourself and those around you.
What are your sources of inspiration?
Goodness, as I have said earlier, everything and anything. It might be a conversation, a photo, something I read or interests I want to explore within a narrative. Dreams also give me ideas or topics, or even a scene I can use within a story. I keep my mind open to influences around me.
Are you involved with your local writing community?
Very much so, physically (when we could!) and virtually. I am the current secretary of my local writers’ group, the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County. We host three monthly (currently virtual) meetings – writing circle, kids creative writing workshop and Poets in the Park. I host the circle meetings, create the Saturday Writing Prompts on the website, and assist with the planning and organization of our two main annual events. Our Spring Writers Conference and our Fall Words in the Park – author and artisan sale and promotion, in conjunction with Alberta Cultural Days. Within this group I found my people, so to speak. I am also a writing community advocate on social media supporting and encouraging other writers. I am happy to share my experiences and knowledge to help others.
What are you currently working on?
I am in the midst of a detective trilogy, The Delphic Murders. I have book one in third draft and am writing book two. Most of my writing is free flow but with this current project I learnt to become a plotter planning separate and multiple arcs, which has been an enlightening exercise. The trilogy spans three Canadian cities and a elusive killer.
You also offer a variety of writing services, don’t you? Can you tell us a little about those?
I am versatile freelance writer drawing from a wide-ranging life experience from twenty-six years as a business owner, working within the medical field, parenting and relationships, extensive travel, and beginning a new life on another continent. I am able to communicate ideas, notions and information on a wide and unlimited range of subjects to ensure I deliver clear, creative, and compelling communications for my clients. It has been a pleasure to create projects for my clients from a magazine article to ghost writing a hybrid marketing book.
So where can people find out more about you and your books?
My blog is the best place to find everything about me and my writing: www.mandyevebarnett.com. I am also across multiple social media sites so I’m easy to find.
When we write a story, as the author, we are within the narrative – it’s characters, setting, backstory and genre format. We can become too close to the action and reveal our plot too early or make it too obvious. Here are a few tips to help entice your reader and keep them guessing, because if you can foresee a plot twist so can the reader. We have to think up options and/or steer the event in another direction to avoid being obvious.
One way is to use subtle misdirection, such as:
Red herrings – false clues or misleading information to steer readers in the wrong direction.
Dead ends – not writing the obvious outcome your readers thought was coming.
Misguided attention – Bury hints or clues where the reader is redirected to another scene, or dialogue and misses a cleverly dropped hint.
2. Foreshadowing is an excellent vehicle for adding subtle hints for a twist to come. These can be as part of a characters actions, or non-action, a secondary character’s dialogue or even disguising a plot twist within a plot twist. The twist, however, must be believable and necessary and also makes sense within the narrative.
3. Use a subplot that misdirects your reader.
It can feed into the plot line, or not – that is your choice.
Interact or intertwine your subplot in an unexpected or unusual way.
You can make the subplot more important to the overall story, than initially appears.
It can also distract from the main plot.
Depending on your genre you can use the ‘no-one is safe’ mentality to add tension and ‘what if’s’.
Other misdirection techniques include:
Killing off an important character.
A character discovers a plot twist organically.
Elevate a minor character.
Your big reveal instigates a twist ending.
Remember to keep up the momentum after the big reveal so that the reader will continue reading to find out the ultimate conclusion of your narrative. If you are struggling there are plot twist generators on the internet, you can use them or manufacture your own from the ideas.
How have you kept a reader guessing? Care to share?
Which book plot twist surprised you the most?
Here is a list of the more famous literary plot twists.