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Writer's Digest presents an excerpt from my webinar, "Three Secrets of the Greats: Structure Your Story for Ultimate Reader Addiction."

Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn, one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers, interviews me about storytelling, writing, independent editing, and the difference between literary fiction and genre, with an impromptu exercise on her own Work-in-Progress.

Editing client Stu Wakefield, author of the Kindle #1 Best Seller Body of Water, talks about our work together on Memory of Water, the second novel of his Water trilogy.






  • By Victoria Mixon

    Hey, guys, I just spent the entire day trying to develop video for this blog. Guess what? That’s right. So let’s talk about how my experiment with video mimics the experience of writing fiction:

    1. It always seems like such a good idea at the time.

      Who has not begun a story with the gripping, overwhelming conviction that this is the best idea ever?

    2. It gets intensely complicated, overblown, and unwieldly really, really fast.

      Writing fiction is enormously complex and involves far more facets than can ever be entirely remembered or even explained. We try and try and try to simplify the basics so we can build a sense of competence and an inner sensory map—a body memory of how to navigate these complexities—but the sheer number of layers always makes the overall picture invisible from any particular vantage point.

    3. It involves a whole lot of little, nickpicky details you simply can’t see coming.

      Fiction is all details: the details of character, the details of plot and subplot and plot thread, the details of setting, the details of tens and tens of thousands of words and sentences. Detail overload. . .and yet every one of them is essential.

    4. The exact aspect of any and all illumination is crucial.

      If we don’t have complete control over where we shine the light when we create, we can’t hope to show our audience what we want them to see.

    5. Repeated attempts to accomplish the same piece of the project over and over again becomes something akin to hammering jello on porcelain.

      Revision is massage taken to the point of pummeling. The breakage can be, eventually, deafening.

    6. Stagefright is a constant.

      Although the camera acts as an audience in the external world, our critical faculties act as an on-going internal audience, so that the accumulation of silent tut-tut’s can be paralyzing if we listen.

    7. Halfway through, you’re guaranteed to forget what you’re doing.

      We are a simple species, and one of the most predictable of our reflexes is the urge to mentally step away when things stop being fun. This is especially true right about when we’ve acquired 36,000 of the 72,000 words we need.

    8. Freezing in the headlights is sometimes the only thing that makes sense.

      Fortunately, the fact that none of this is live means we can freeze for as long as we like. It’s never detrimental to the final product, and it’s often the key to quality.

    9. It turns out you don’t actually have a single, consistent voice.

      Did you know this about yourself? Even when you’re talking? Me neither.

    10. The longer you struggle, the more obvious it becomes this can’t possibly end well.

      I really don’t have an answer for this.

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    9 Comments

    “The freshest and most relevant
    advice you’ll find.”

    —Helen Gallagher, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    The Art & Craft of Writing Fiction

    The Art & Craft of Writing Stories


    A. VICTORIA MIXON, FREELANCE INDEPENDENT EDITOR

    VICTORIA’S ADVICE COLUMN

    9 Comments

9 Responses to “10 Ways Writing Fiction is Like Performing for a Camera”

  1. I love this analogy!

  2. Thank you, Kathy! You should have seen how frazzled I was while I was writing it. 🙂

  3. This makes so much sense. From inspiration to gibbering, head-clutching hair-tearing – no matter how many novels I’ve written I get to a stage where I feel it’s exploded into a big fat mess and I don’t know what I’m doing. Great to have you back, my dear. And the video looks great on the blog. R x

  4. Hey you! Lovely to see you here. Thanks for such kindnesses to greet me on my return!

    It’s true, isn’t it? Even the most experienced novelists have to cross the quicksand.

  5. Oh my God. Apparently, I AM doing something right:-)

    Thank you thank you!!! I’m so relieved…. :-))))

  6. Of course you’re doing something right—you’re bumbling around here in the dark with the rest of us!

  7. You should also never, ever pick your nose on camera. Nor in your novels. That’s just awkward for everyone.

    Happy (belated) New Year, good lady!

  8. Please tell me you’re not speaking from experience, Simon.

  9. […] Victoria Mixon’s blog. I really liked this post. • Storyfix. This was interesting. • JM Tohline. His posts are always well thought-out. […]




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Authors


MILLLICENT G. DILLON, represented by Harold Ober Associates, is the world’s expert on authors Jane and Paul Bowles. She has won five O. Henry Awards and been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner. I worked with Dillon on her memoir, The Absolute Elsewhere, in which she describes in luminous prose her private meeting with Albert Einstein to discuss the ethics of the atomic bomb. Read more. . .


SASHA TROYAN is a Professor of English at Montclair University and author of the critically-acclaimed novels Angels in the Morning and The Forgotten Island, both Booksense Selections, beautiful stories based upon her childhood in France. I worked with Troyan to develop her new novels, Marriage A Trois and Semester. Read more. . .


LUCIA ORTH is the author of the debut novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, which received critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, Booklist, Library Journal and Small Press Reviews. I have edited a number of essays and articles for Orth. Read more. . .


BHAICHAND PATEL, retired after an illustrious career with the United Nations, is now a journalist based out of New Dehli and Bombay, an expert on Bollywood, and author of three non-fiction books published by Penguin. I edited Patel’s best-selling debut novel, Mothers, Lovers, and Other Strangers, published by Pan Macmillan. Read more. . .


SCOTT WILBANKS, represented by Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, is the author of the debut novel, The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster, published by Sourcebooks in August, 2015. I’m working with Wilbanks on his sophomore novel, Easy Pickens, the story of the world’s only medically-diagnosed case of chronic naiveté. Read more. . .


SCOTT WARRENDER is a professional musician and Annie Award-nominated lyricist specializing in musical theater. I work with Warrender regularly on his short stories and debut novel, Putaway. Read more. . .


M. TERRY GREEN enjoys a successful self-publishing career with multiple sci-fi/fantasy series set in the Multiverse, based upon her expertise in anthropology and technology. I worked with Green to develop a new speculative fiction series. Read more. . .


DARREN D. BEYER is an ex-NASA experiment engineer who has worked on every Space Shuttle orbiter but Challenger. In his sci-fi Anghazi Series, Beyer uses his scientific expertise to create a galaxy in which “space bridges” allow interstellar travel based upon the latest in real theoretical physics. Read more. . .


ANIA VESENNY, represented by Beverly Slopen Literary Agency, is a recipient of the Evelyn Sullivan Gilbertson Award for Emerging Artist in Literature and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I edited Vesenny’s debut novel, Swearing in Russian at the Northern Lights, and her second novel, Sandara. Read more. . .


STUART WAKEFIELD is the #1 Kindle Best Selling author of Body of Water, the first novel in his Orcadian Trilogy. Body of Water was 1 of 10 books long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. I edited Wakefield’s second novel, Memory of Water, and look forward to editing the final novel of his Orcadian Trilogy, Spirit of Water. Read more. . .


GERALDINE EVANS is a best-selling British author. Her historical novel, Reluctant Queen, is a Category No 1 Best Seller on Amazon UK. I edited Death Dues, #11 in Evans’ fifteen popular Rafferty and Llewellyn cozy police procedurals, which received a glowing review from the Midwest Book Review. Read more. . .


JUDY LEE DUNN is an award-winning marketing blogger. I am working with Dunn to develop and line edit her memoir of reconciling liberal activism with her emotional difficulty accepting the lesbianism of her beloved daughter, Tonight Show comedienne Kellye Rowland. Read more. . .


LISA MERCADO-FERNANDEZ writes literary novels of love, loss, and friendship set in the small coastal towns of New England. I edited Mercado-Fernandez’ debut novel The Shoebox and second novel The Eighth Summer. Read more. . .


JEFF RUSSELL is the author of the debut novel, The Rules of Love and Law, based upon Jeff’s abiding passions for legal history and justice. Read more. . .


LEN JOY is the author of the debut novel, American Past Time. I worked with Len to develop his novel from its core: a short story about the self-destructive ambitions of a Minor League baseball star. Read more. . .


ALEX KENDZIORSKI is an American physician working in South Africa on community health education and wildlife conservation. I edited Kendziorski’s debut novel Wait a Season for Their Names about the endangered African painted wolf, for which he is donating the profits to wildlife conservation. Read more. . .


ALEXANDRA GODFREY blogs for the New England Journal of Medicine. I work with Godfrey on her short fiction and narrative nonfiction, including a profile of the doctor who helped save her son’s life, “Mending Broken Hearts.” Read more. . .


In addition, I work with scores of aspiring writers in their apprenticeship to this wonderful literary art and craft.

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