JPC Allen Writes

Inspiration for Beginning Writers




Writing Tip — Speculative Fiction

robotw-2256814_1280A few weeks ago, I posted an article about the different genres of crime fiction and suspense fiction. When I found this post, I thought it would helpful for those just beginning to write in the field of speculative fiction.

I learned from author Edie Melson at the Ohio Christian Writers Conference that the term “speculative fiction” is used more in the Christian fiction market, while “science fiction and fantasy” is used in the general market.

No matter what umbrella term you use, any writer needs to know what genre his work fits in best. As the author states at the end of the post, a writer should select one sub-genre so as not confuse readers. Not only will it make it easier to explain your work to agents and editors, it will help you keep focus during your editing so you will remember what’s most important to your story.

Writing Tip — Favorite Stories

turkey-1299176_1280As a former children’s librarian, I like books for children and love recommending my favorites. So if you are looking for Thanksgiving books for your kids, or you can still appreciate a great picture book, check out the list below.

s-l225Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin. This is the first in a delightful series about Maggie and her grandmother who live in New England next to a cranberry bog. Maggie’s best friend is Mr. Whiskers, an old sea captain who Grandmother is convinced is trying to steal her secret recipe for cranberry bread. By the end of the story Grandmother discovers who is her real threat.

My kids and I love these books. Maybe it’s because it takes place in a small town, where everyone knows everyone, like where we live. These are also longer picture books so you get more story as well as wonderful illustrations.

61el4budcwlTwas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey. A field trip turns into a rescue mission when the school kids find out the destinies of the turkeys on the turkey farm.

The riff on the Christmas poem is great fun and the way the kids help the turkeys escape is accompanied by illustrations that always make my kids laugh.


61xibhl68slA Plump and Perky Turkey¬†by Teresa Bateman. A town desperate to find a turkey for their Thanksgiving feast set about trying to con one. But Pete the turkey proves “a plump and perky turkey can be pretty doggone clever.”

This story, told in rhyme, has detailed illustrations that kids can study and an unusually imaginative plot about how Pete turns the tables on the townsfolk.


Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts

ThanksgivingThe memory that stands out in my mind about Thanksgiving is the double dinners.

When I was a kid both my grandparents lived within thirty minutes of our house. Late Thanksgiving morning, my parents, my three sisters, and I would pile into our car and head to my mom’s parents for Thanksgiving lunch.

Thanksgiving lunch was, of course, a full-blown Thanksgiving feast, and we kids would gorge ourselves. Then around four o’clock, we’d pile back into the car, which didn’t seem as roomy as before, and head to my dad’s parents.

Thanksgiving supper at my paternal grandparents’ house was a full-blown Thanksgiving feast. My sisters and I did our best to gorge ourselves again, but we just didn’t have the stomach space.

Over the weekend, we would return to my mom’s parents to eat leftovers. Or, as my grandpa said, “Just put on my tombstone: ‘The leftovers did me in’.”

What are your favorite memories of Thanksgiving?

Writing Tip — Writing With Senses

jellyfish wordsCyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency has a wonderful post on using the sense of touch in writing.

This sense is often underused because we are such sight-dependent beings. Unless you have a character who is blind, is in a dark setting, or is an animal or imaginary creature whose main sense is touch, this sense gets crowded out by sight and touch.

Reviewing my own book, I see I used the sense of touch to convey the humidity of its summer setting. Humidity forces me to explore the sense of touch because it is the only way to experience it.

When my main character works on a roof all through a humid July day, he says, “I felt like I’d gone swimming in tomato soup.” He describes a mist as “clinging to my skin like a fungus.”

When my main character is sneaking around his property in the West Virginia mountains in the dead of night, I will try to include some description of touch, Right now, I only mention the wind whipping around him and sweating.

Writing Exercise

If you want to practice your writing with touch, write a comment to Mr. Young’s post. Or use the above photo. What’s interesting about using this photo as a writing exercise is that there are at least two people touching the jellyfish and possibly three. Each character can experience the feel of the jellyfish in a unique way, and that way tells something about him or her.

For example, the hand coming from the left looks like a child’s and he can be thrilled with touching a live jellyfish while the hand hovering behind can belong to an adult who touched the creature and was revolted. (I might share that reaction).

How would you use the sense of touch in the photo above?

Powered by

Up ↑