Sunday, April 26, 2015

Guest post: Mandi M. Lynch

I really like opening my blog to guest writers. Not only do I have to do very little work, but I get to introduce new voices to those of you reading. It's intrinsically important to broaden our horizons and find new weavers of tales, to listen to different opinions and story tellers, to learn, to grow.
This week I have 2 guests, the first of which is the brilliant Mandi M. Lynch. So sit back and read her words. Learn, grow, and be better for it.
The Detail is in the Tale

I just read a line* from Neil Gaiman.  “There was a girl; her uncle sold her. … That is the tale, the rest is detail.”  Maybe that is why writing is both so easy and so difficult at the same time.

Sure, we can all come up with a simple storyline.  Okay, there is a guy and he’s suspected of being a terrorist… But then the problem becomes that we have to make our story be different than a thousand other stories that have exactly the same story line.  There’s a guy, and he’s suspected of being a terrorist, on the InterPlanet Hree, orbiting the Nth galaxy’s inner sun…

And then what if you write something that a thousand other people wrote that you didn’t have the luxury of reading yet?  So you spend how many hours writing a story and then you send it to your beta reader and they’re all like… “Oh, I just saw this movie last week!” Damn, now what?

My problems tend to come when real life decides it has caught up with fiction. 

(No, fiction doesn’t imitate real life – it’s totally the other way around.)

I had a book just about planned out that I was working on some minor plot issues and character development for.  A lot of it had to do with the spread of a virus, and a few political things going on, and… and then the political things sort of happened and we had that month long Ebola scare.  And then what do you do? Do you write it anyway and wait for potential readers to think you’re ripping things from the headlines, or do you hold on to it for six months, a year, more?  What do you do?

Of course there are no answers to it.  The number one thing that drives me crazy as a writer is listing to other writers ask if they can do things like there’s an absolute list.  “Am I allowed to write my story in <point of view>?”  Um. Yes?  “Can I put <character type> in <place>?”  I don’t know, can you?  “No, I mean, am I allowed?  Because I see other stuff where…”  Okay, but are you trying to do exactly what the other stuff does or are you trying to be your own writer and do your own story?

This is the tale, the rest is detail. And if you’re going to be a writer, you put on your big girl panties, and you start putting details down.  And who cares if the next person over wants to psychoanalyze whether or not your curtains should be blue or green or polka-dotted with contrasting neon zig-zag trim and pompoms dangling?

As writers, we have a target audience.  It’s exactly one person in number, and it’s ourselves.  You write to yourself – the story that you want to tell in the way that you want to tell it.  Because even the most brilliant story becomes total crap after you let a thousand so-called-potential readers tell you what you have to do.  You know that artist you’re writing about with polka-dotted curtains with the contrasting neon zig-zag trim and pompoms dangling?  Six beta readers later, they might be black leather, designed to block the natural light that your artist so desperately needs.

So be true to yourself.  And do the easy part – tell the tale – but then settle in for the long haul and do the hard part, too.  And don’t let others muddy your story by telling you how they want it.  If it were so easy, they’d be doing it themselves.


[*American Gods, hardback p 252]





Mandi M. Lynch wrote her first story at the tender age of six, pecking at the words on her mother’s typewriter.  Although the crayon drawings are marginally better, the spelling has not improved.  Aside from being a writer of speculative fiction, a blogger, and an editor, she publishes Ink Monkey Mag and a variety of anthologies, and is programming director for Hypericon, a speculative fiction convention based in Nashville, TN.  Her next anthology release is The Tomato Anthology, which makes its debut this August, and she has several horror stories in the works.  Lynch lives in the suburbs with three cats, none of which write due to their lack of thumbs.


You can find her on Facebook at,, or at her book review blog at

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