Please welcome Marin Thomas to Writer Unboxed. Marin writes Women’s Fiction for Berkley/NAL and western romances for Harlequin books. To date she has contracted over 35 projects for Harlequin. Her first women’s fiction novel, The Promise of Forgiveness, will release next month.
Marin grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin, and attended college at the University of Arizona where she played basketball for the Lady Wildcats and earned a B.A. in Radio-TV. Following graduation she married her college sweetheart in a five-minute ceremony at the historical Little Chapel of the West in Las Vegas. Marin and her husband are recent empty nesters and currently live in Houston, Texas, where she spends her free time junk hunting and researching her next ghost tour.
Daydream Your Way To A Better Story
How many times have you heard authors, agents, editors, and writing coaches tell you that you should write what you know?
If we only write about what we know, this world would lose out on some pretty amazing works of fiction. I’m a prime example of writing what I don’t know and being relatively successful at it. I’m not talking about becoming rich off my books—I’d have better luck taking my chances on a lottery ticket. I’m talking about staying in contract.
I sold my first book with Harlequin in 2004 and to date I’ve written over 35 projects for them (books, online reads and novellas). Most recently, I branched into women’s fiction with my first sale to Berkley/NAL. I consider myself fortunate to having survived in this business for over a decade.
But here’s the kicker; my imagination, not what I know, has kept me employed all these years—that and help from my writing partner Google.
Write What You Don’t Know
My first women’s fiction book is a perfect example of a story that isn’t a reflection of my life.
- The story takes place in a small fictitious town in the Oklahoma panhandle. I’ve driven through the Sooner state a couple of times but have never lived there.
- The heroine in my novel is a single mother. I’ve never been a single mother.
- The heroine swaps out men as often as she changes underwear. I’m about to celebrate thirty years of wedded bliss to the same guy—talk about a gal who doesn’t change her underwear often.
- The heroine was adopted. I’m not adopted.
- The ranch foreman lost his young son. Fortunately I haven’t experience such a tragedy.
You see were I’m going with this? Being a successful writer doesn’t have to depend solely on your life experiences. The ability to put yourself in someone else’s head, shoes, underwear—whatever—is the key to creating a realistic, engaging story that draws the reader in.
You say your imagination is a little rusty? No worries. Start daydreaming. The next time you’re sitting in a group meeting at work playing buzzword bingo as your boss drones on about logistics, bottom lines and shareholder value, stare into space and see what pops into your head.
Travel a lot? Keep the laptop stowed in your carryon at the airport and then watch deplaning passengers as they walk off the jet way. Hitting the highway for the holidays? Take the back roads, give up the wheel, stay off the iPhone and then turn your head sideways and gaze at the passing scenery. It may take a little practice but pretty soon you’ll be seeing more than objects in the distance. Your mind will be racing with a million what ifs.
Still Need More Convincing?
According to an article by MarkPrigg, DailyMail.com: “Researchers have found that daydreaming can be good for you and actually boost the brain. While we daydream, the brain is freed up to process tasks more effectively.” Maybe we don’t need those ginkgo biloba supplements after all.
An article by Jessica Lahey at theatlantic.com says, “Daydreaming only appears lazy from the outside, but viewed from the inside—or from the perspective of a psychologist, or a neuroscientist—a complicated and extremely productive neurological process is taking place.” Don’t tell Sheldon, but Penny’s the smartest one on the Big Bang Theory.
So the next time someone tells you to write what you know, take the advice with a grain of salt and go stare out the window.
Where’s the most likely place you catch yourself daydreaming? Has a story idea or character ever resulted from one of your daydreams?