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Posts tagged ‘what if’

First Monday Mentoring for December – the gifts your writing gives to readers

Welcome to the first Monday in December when I talk about the nitty-gritty of being a writer. A week ago I was reminded of perhaps the best part of the writing life, one we seldom think about – the effect our writing has on other people.

I was reminded of this a week ago while I was in Los Angeles attending a live event hosted by Reading Rainbow, an organisation dedicated to instilling the love of reading and learning in children everywhere. A few months ago, LeVar Burton, original Reading Rainbow TV presenter and Star Trek The Next Generation’s Geordie LaForge, relaunched Reading Rainbow for the 21st century at

At the event, LeVar and two Star Trek legends, William Shatner and Sir Patrick Stewart, read some childrens’ books to a delighted audience – we adults as enthralled as the children. Then LeVar talked about the power of “what if…” the cornerstone of many a writer’s new idea., and played the Reading Rainbow theme song reminding us that readers can “go anywhere” and “be anything” in their imagination.

After the readings, I got to sit down and chat with Bill Shatner, who readers of this blog know by now is one of my greatest inspirations, as well as LeVar and Sir Patrick. Exciting indeed and a story for another day.

L to R: William Shatner, Levar Burton and Sir Patrick Stewart read at the Reading Rainbow event I attended

L to R: William Shatner, Levar Burton and Sir Patrick Stewart read at the Reading Rainbow event I attended

Writers generally focus on the work of writing, the struggles, fears and disappointments when the story fails to live up to our hopes.

But what about when we succeed?

As Reading Rainbow reminded us, that’s when magic happens.

Whether you write in longhand, on a tablet, on a program such as Scrivener, or on cave walls, the process is the same. You start with a “what if…” and trust that your idea will capture your readers’ imagination the way it did yours.

In the struggle to birth a story, it’s easy to forget that you’re taking readers on a journey with you, giving them the gift of your creativity and insight. Whether your readers number in the dozens or millions matters not a bit. When you make a story, wrap it in your words, and present it to readers, you’ve shared a piece of your soul.
In troubled times, stories can give hope – not by saying that all men are brothers, but by showing the brother and sisterhood between our characters. Others campaign for an end to domestic violence; we show how that goal might come about. When the future seems bleak, we show a positive future, as Star Trek itself has done since its first airing nearly 50 years ago.

These are gifts writers have been giving to the world since the cave days. Whether you celebrate Channukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or any other festive season, you are giving the world your gift of possibilities through your stories.

How you publish is also less important than, what and why you write. It may be a beloved hobby or your life’s work, as writing has been mine for decades. What matters is the sharing of your ideas with your family and the wider world.

The ability to create stories is a rare blessing. I believe it’s the reason why we keep writing despite the pain of rejection and the frustration of chasing a near-impossible dream. As the song says, we are aiming for a star that seems unreachable much of the time. But when we do reach it, the sense of achievement is incomparable.
You’ve spoken your thoughts through your writing, and been heard and understood by at least one reader. There’s nothing quite like it.

This season, I wish that feeling for all writers. Write because you love it; because you must; and because it’s the most fun you can have and still call it work.

If it’s in you to write – write. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you. Your vocation is to be a bringer of light to the world. Do it with joy and pride, and the curiosity of a child. Write even when it hurts.
The more you write, the more you’ll discover you can write. Only by sharing your words are you truly honouring your gift.

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To all writers everywhere, thank you for giving me the gift of your stories and letting me share the fruits of your imagination. They make you more special than you will ever know.

on Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook


First Monday Mentoring for February – what comes first?

If you’ve been here before, you’ll know that on first Monday of each month, I answer your questions on writing.  February already. Wasn’t it Christmas just days ago? Only last weekend I was in the beautiful city of Bathurst, helping the community celebrate as their Australia Day Ambassador. I count this a real  honour and always have a great time meeting new people, especially helping to welcome some brand new Australian citizens.

Meeting local writers is always special. Giving a talk at the Bathurst Library, I met (or remet) several from past writing conferences, as well as the present owners of Abercrombie House, one of the finest colonial houses in Australia. Lots of story material in that weekend.


Which leads me to a question to kick off First Monday Mentoring for February. Where do I start my stories – with plot or characters, and which is best.

Whatever works for the writer is the best way. I like to start with an interesting person, perhaps an unusual occupation that sparks a “what if?” question. Can be either hero or heroine, but usually I imagine my heroine first. What does her job involve? What’s her family like? How did she get started, and where does she work? Self employed or for a business? Then the big question – what problem is she facing when we meet her? If the book is a romance, what role does the prospective hero play in her problem? Ideally, he’ll be the cause of it or have a key role.

In my SF romantic suspense, Birthright, the first character we meet is Adam Desai, who was also the first character I imagined when I started the book. Having been found in a shipwreck, he knew nothing about his past.  His perfect match therefore had to be someone very secure in her heritage. Enter Shana Akers.

Interviewing a character is a good way to get to know them. At first it feels strange asking questions and writing down the answers, but if you stick with it, they soon start expressing their own opinions faster than you can write. It’s not spooky, only you accessing the parts of yourself the character represents.

Do you start with character or plot? What tips and tricks have you used that you can share here? If you have other questions to do with writing, feel free to ask them here as well.



on Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook

Read some reviews of Birthright at

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