I have never had an ambition to write a screenplay. I’m having enough trouble learning how to write novels and short stories. But a few of my writing friends in American Christian Fiction Writers have written plays or tried their hand at screenplays. One author gave a presentation on the basics of writing a play for our chapter meeting. Some of her advice could also apply to novel writing.
I found this post on Almost an Author on the benefits of screenwriting when applied to writing a novel full of helpful insights. Some of the lessons the author describes I have learned from writing short stories. Over the past three years, I’ve tackled both nonfiction writing in blog posts, poetry, and fiction. I’ve learned there’s a lot of cross-pollination between these different genres.
Have you ever tried writing a screenplay? What was your most valuable lesson?
I am so excited to introduce you to a friend of mine I met through chapter meetings of ACFW. Cindy Thompson writes historical fiction set in ancient Ireland and early 1900’s America. I highlighted her nonfiction book, The Roots of Irish Wisdom, back in March. Since my focus this month is on historical fiction, I am very pleased Cindy had the time to answer questions about her genre.
Me: Welcome, Cindy! My first question is why did you select ancient Ireland and the American immigrant experience of the early 1900’s for your novels?
Cindy: I love history and there are many time periods that interest me. I got interested in the early Christian period of Ireland when I started learning about St. Brigid at an Irish festival. The Ellis Island series, on the other hand, was recommended to me by my agent at the time. He knew there were publishers interested in that subject so he thought I should write about Irish immigrants.
Me: Which comes first – research or storyline?
Cindy: For me the history comes first. I start learning about a time period and the people who lived during that time, and then the story comes after.
Me: What resources do you rely on for research?
Cindy: Whatever I can find. Researching 5-6th century Ireland wasn’t too easy, but there are books about the social history of the time. Whatever books I can find, biographies, novels in that time period, and for later time periods newspapers and personal accounts.
Me: What is the most unusual resource you have used?
Cindy: For Sofia’s Tune I wanted to learn about people who lost their twin. I discovered there is a national group called Twinless Twins, and they put me in touch with someone who was willing to tell me her story. She influenced the formation of my character Sofia. I’ll leave it at that so I don’t spoil the story too much for those who haven’t read it, but I would say that was a pretty unique resource.
Me: What advice would you give to someone interested in writing historical fiction?
Cindy: Make sure you have a passion for it and you enjoy research. Do your research thoroughly so that you don’t make glaring mistakes. There will always be readers who will nail you if you use a place name that is modern rather than historical or use inventions that had not yet been invented at the time your novel is set. These anachronisms will leave readers wondering if you’ve done any research and cause them not to trust you as an author.
You should feel a connection to the people who lived during the time you are writing about.
Enjoy. It’s my favorite genre and historical fiction fans are always eager for the next intriguing tale!
Me: Thanks so much for your insights and advice!
Please visit Cindy at the links listed below.
Cindy Thomson is the author of eight books, including her newest novel, Enya’s Son, releasing this summer. Being a genealogy enthusiast, she also writes articles for Internet Genealogy and Your Genealogy Today magazines, and children’s short stories for Clubhouse Magazine. She has also co-authored a baseball biography. Most everything she writes reflects her belief that history has stories to teach. Cindy lives in central Ohio near their three grown sons and their families.
My article “Going Through the Motions” is posted on the American Christian Fiction Writers blog today. If you have ever felt like your were just going through the motions as you celebrate Christmas, or in your writing, check it out.
For the first time, I am a guest blogger on the site Word Sharpeners, a blog created by two writer friends Tamera Lynn Kraft and Carole Brown. I hope you enjoy it. (By the way, I have upgraded to contacts since my senior picture was taken.)
I have another link to another post on Word Sharpeners. It list the expected word counts for different genres of fiction. If you are interested in publishing your writing as a novel some day, you must know the acceptable words counts for it. Agents and editors are only interested in words counts, not page counts. I wish I has known what as the appropriate word count when I started writing my first novel. It was already at epic length when I realized I would have to whack it half to make acceptable to publishers.