Apr 30, 2021 • 41M

Episode 261 Really #Funny, Real and Funny: Rom-Coms, plotting and finding characters with Mhairi McFarlane

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Entertaining, actionable advice on craft, productivity and creativity for writers and journalists in all genres, with hosts Jessica Lahey, KJ Dell'Antonia and Sarina Bowen.

Plotting and pantsing, loving your genre, voice, self-doubt… what didn’t we talk about with Mhairi McFarlane? And she has such a lovely Scottish accent to do it in, too. We know you’ll love this episode.


Mhairi: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary (aka El Piso Para Dos in KJ’s Spanish version)

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

Sarina: The Price You Pay for College by Ron Lieber (from episode Turning Data into #Narrative)

Re-reading Rock Chick by Kristen Ashley

KJ: Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez

Follow Mhairi on Twitter: @mhairimcf

In this episode we talked a lot about finding ideas, chasing them around and pinning them down. Jennie Nash from our sponsor, Author Accelerator, has a list of the idea process, in this case for non-fiction books:

  1. I had an idea, which came to me in the form of six words in a very specific order…

  2. and which stuck in my mind long enough to ping against a memory…

  3. which caused me to think about the connection between those two things (this new thought, this old memory)…

  4. which prompted me to land on the idea of a process

  5. which suggests some sort of order or structure or shape…

  6. which led me to believe I had something to say…

  7. which prompted me to put a title on a blank page and start writing this blog post…

  8. which I already have a strong feeling is going to become a book.

In fiction, it goes somewhat differently—at least, I can’t see where “process” fits in—but the two things pinging against one another in your brain rings true for me for sure. Sign up for their free email Writing Challenge to help you plan what your book will be about, how to structure it, where it starts and ends, and who your target readers are and what they are looking for—and you’ll also be on the list to get emails from Jennie that somehow always manage to be just what I need when they arrive.

Have you checked out the Writing Class Radio podcast? Writing Class Radio is a podcast of a writing class.  If you love stories and get inspired by hearing other people tell their stories and want to learn a little bit about how to write your own stories, then this podcast is for you. Check it out here or search for it in your pod-player.