22 June, 2017

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - One Sliver of Truth by Molly D. Campbell

*** Special Feature - June 2017 ***

About the Author

Molly writes from her pantry, often in pajamas. She exercises regularly, despite the fact that she has sustained numerous injuries involving barbells and exercise balls. She successfully raised two gorgeous daughters, who both pay their own bills. 

Molly has few interests other than reading books and writing, although she and her husband did attempt clog dancing with disastrous results.

A huge fan of HGTV, Molly has been known to watch marathon sessions of “Househunters” while leafing through magazines and snacking.

Molly’s husband has an accordion band. The neighbors have started a collection to fund soundproofing for the Campbell’s basement.

Molly can be found at: Website * Blog * Twitter


I am not a “trained” writer. That is, I have not belonged to any writer’s groups, attended any lengthy seminars about the craft, and I have not submitted to hundreds of publishers only to be rejected. I have written two books. But my approach to writing has always been to begin with something I can almost hold in my hand.

My goal before I sit down to write anything, be it an essay, a humor piece, a character sketch, or a longer work of fiction, is to decide beforehand what one small truth I want to reveal in the piece. Some might call that a “theme,” but I don’t necessarily think that my writing is thematic. A theme runs throughout a work—it becomes more obvious as the reader delves into the text: it is repeated in metaphors and similes, landscapes are drawn to illustrate the theme, etc.

For me, it is much simpler. For instance, in my novel Crossing the Street, I latched unto a realization that most of us never actually know what “forgiveness” means. So we blunder through life holding onto some sort of semblance of a definition of the word, resenting the idea that we might someday actually have to forgive somebody for something. But the true essence of forgiveness seeps into our lives through the experiencing of various crises. We learn about forgiveness when people do awful things to us. I also realized that maturity doesn’t necessarily bring wisdom. With these two ideas in mind, these two small truths, I built a book.

Too many writers spend a great deal of time structuring, thinking about plots and subplots, time frames and organizational charts. I find reading those books somewhat formulaic. Other writers are absolute spot-on plotters, and the story is just so damn good, that there really isn’t time for doing much other than moving the story along until the big crescendo, with readers scratching their heads in wonder at the genius who thought this whole thing up. The genius plotters can just go right on coming up with blockbusters—I could read a new Gone Girl every week.

Of course, there are the puzzle builders. Mystery writers. I haven’t a clue how they do it. But I am sure decks of index cards, spread sheets, and the “cut and paste” feature come in handy.

Then there are the hacks. Not to mention any names or books, but we all have read one or another runaway bestseller that we wonder how the author got past an editor. Then there are the indie books, some of which, again, make it huge, and we scratch our heads after finding four grammatical errors in the first paragraph.

There is something readers want. A book must resonate at some level. We as authors have our choice of approach. We can write the Great American novel, which I know I am not capable of. We can become that writer who writes well enough and quickly enough to put out multiple books a year, ones that have thrills and chills and develop loyal readers who look forward to the next “knock your socks off” installment. There are the poets, who write a novel so full of either gorgeous or hideous imagery and descriptions that you want to tattoo them on your_____.

There are writers who create characters who are so real that the reader feels he knows them. Characterizations that click are great fun for the reader. We love those characters that are so completely self-centered that we want to slap them. Those husbands married to their jobs? I would like to kick them where the sun doesn’t shine. Writers who create these vibrant characters can write a great book around those characters alone, without throwing in the “plotline of the century.”

So I bring this all back to me. My level of writing. I like to think that my characters are vibrant. How did I do this? I wrote one character sketch a day for a year.  I like people, I like quirks, and I like character names.

This is certainly not a tutorial. But for me, here is the formula: Choose a name. Envision what that person looks like. Write a character sketch of three thousand words or less. Then choose the characters in that person’s family and immediate circle. Write those character sketches. Pick an outsider. Do the same for that person. You need at least one outsider to stir the pot when the time comes.

Choose one small truth: for instance—your mother did a lot more for you than make your lunch every day.  But you never thought about her as a real person, did you? No. She just was that person who kept you clean and fed. No depth to her! Then build a book around that truth and those characters you created, above.

This is my method. Unusual? Maybe. But it is the only way I know how to write stories.

About the Book
This wasn't the way Beck Throckmorton had planned it. She wasn't expecting to find herself in her thirties writing erotica and making flat whites for a living while she stewed over that fact that her ex had wound up with her sister. She never saw herself living in a small suburban Ohio town with an octogenarian neighbor best friend. And she definitely wouldn't have imagined the eight-year-old great-granddaughter of that friend turning her world upside down. 

As summer comes around, Beck's life is unsettled in every way. And that's before the crazy stuff starts: the sister taunting her with her pregnancy, the infuriatingly perfect boyfriend, the multiple trips to the emergency room. The needy, wise-beyond-her-years little girl finding places in her heart that Beck didn't even know existed. 

Beck has found herself at an emotional intersection she never anticipated. And now it's time to cross the street.

CROSSING THE STREET is a funny, touching novel that brims life's complexities. Filled with characters both distinctive and welcomingly familiar, it is a story that will entertain and enlighten.

1 eBook of Crossing the Street
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  1. I have been writing for the past six years. Basically, I am a journalist. But I always wanted to write a book. I have never begun. I don't know how to begin. But your post is an eye - opener. Yes...I am going to do that- Character sketch. Thanks for this post.

    With Love
    Shalet Jimmy

  2. Since I read this book, and absolutely loved it, I found this so interesting. The author did a fantastic job with her characters, so much so that I am hoping there is a sequel in the works.

  3. So glad to be here! 🌺🌺🌺 Molly