Kathi sits down with Christy Award winning fiction author Ginny Ytrrup and finishes a conversation about all things fiction.
In today’s episode, you will discover:
- The close relationship between fiction and non fiction and why you need both.
- Why “SHOW, don’t tell” matters to both the author and the reader.
- The fun and craft of editing. Yes, we said the “E” word.
This episode is sponsored by :
Whether your negative thoughts taunt you only once in a while or every hour on the hour, grab your copy of The Truth About the Negative Lies Communicators Believe over at www.kendraburrows.com/communicators, and receive weekly reassurance and tips to help you minimize those negative thoughts.
If you want to grow your fiction skills or improve your overall storytelling ability, then join us at Writing at the Red House with Christy Award winning author, (AND TODAY’S GUEST) Ginny Yttrup. Ginny will share her insights and expertise with attendees of this writing retreat. Click here to claim your spot!
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Transcript of this Episode
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Communicator Academy Podcast #175
Fiction with Ginny Yttrup – Part Two
Kathi – Well hey friends! Welcome to Communicator Academy, where our heart is to equip and encourage men and women to become the communicators God created them to be. Rejoining me today is author, instructor, writing coach, and fiction expert, Ginny Yttrup. Ginny, welcome back to Communicator Academy.
Ginny – Thank you!
Kathi – I know, whenever I call someone an expert on here, they always balk, but you are an expert. We’ve been at some of the same conferences, and I love your, how do I want to say this? your gentle approach to falling in love with fiction and making it accessible to people. You’ve got something special. That’s why I’m super-excited that you’re going to be teaching Writing at The Red House. That’s going to be in June 2020, doing the Advanced Fiction retreat June 7th through 12th. I cannot wait for this. I’ll be talking about marketing. You’re quite the marketing expert, too. I know you’re going to say, “No! No!” but you are. I’ve seen the number of Amazon reviews. I know you’ve sold a ton of books. Here’s what I want. I want to give people a taste of what you’re going to be teaching there, but of course, we never tease you guys. We want to give practical stuff for each and every podcast that you can use and take. So, I’m asking Ginny to do the impossible. I’m asking her to talk about three things she’s going to be teaching at The Red House. I know these will have fiction and non-fiction crossover to a certain extent, so I want to talk about that. So, Ginny, give us a taste. What’s one thing you’ll be teaching at The Red House?
Ginny – One of the things I want to talk about, especially in an advanced fiction retreat, is the idea of theme in a novel.
Kathi – Can you define Theme for us?
Ginny – This is my definition: Theme is the message you want to impart to your reader, or the idea that you want your reader to walk away and chew on. You want them to think about it and possibly have it, even, impact their lives. I think that’s especially true for novelist who are writing for the Christian marketplace. So, we see themes in novels. This is where non-fiction and fiction share so much in common. If you’re writing a non-fiction book, Kathi, you know your topic and you know what the take away is for your reader. Fiction is a little bit different in that we are providing an experience for a reader. It might be that we are providing entertainment. It may be something that just simply offers a reader relief. They may be sitting in a hospital waiting room and absolutely need a coping mechanism in a time of trauma or difficulty. A novel can provide that. So, I don’t ever look at novel as fluff. It absolutely serves a purpose, and a lot of times, that theme is the purpose that the novel is imparting to the reader. If you look at some well-known novels, To Kill a Mockingbird. That theme of justice is so strong, and reconciliation. That’s the important nugget that the incredible story shows the reader.
Kathi – It’s so funny that you just brought up To Kill a Mockingbird, because one of the novels that just came to mind to me, that I felt like, while I was powerfully entertained, I also learned a lot. I feel like it changed me, is a book called We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels. One of the reviews is, “I haven’t read such a powerful, moving story since I read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school.” It was so interesting, I was just looking it up. Isn’t that true? This book has themes of reconciliation and understanding, “Why does one man hate another man?” In a time we can’t understand, in 2019, and this is looking at the 60s. It’s three generations, and it pulls it all together. I feel like I understand human beings better, and what motivates them in good fiction. I had the same experience with, everybody’s listening to it right now, Before We Were Yours. Understanding what money and greed and power can do to effect generations to come. There was so much learning involved in that book, they actually wrote a second book about the families involved in these, basically, kidnappings in the 20s and 30s. So, you’re right. I feel like excellent fiction and non-fiction are closer together than we imagine. If you’re writing great non-fiction, it needs to be captivating. It has to have the story that goes with it, and in great fiction, I always feel like great fiction is so much harder to write because, first of all, people check your facts better in fiction than they do in non-fiction. You want your mind to be altered in both, and you want to be deeply entertained, whether it’s deeply saddened, or laughter, or powerfully moved, in both. So, they’re closer together, than ever before.
Ginny – Yep. I totally agree with you. So much of fiction technique shows up in non-fiction. The difference is, if I pick up a non-fiction book, I, most of the time, pick it up because I want to learn something. Whereas, if I pick up a novel, I may just want to be entertained, but from the author’s standpoint, I feel like fiction is the backdoor into the reader’s heart. They may not expect to pick up a novel with learning on their mind, or taking something away, but so often when we show a good story, those images stay with the reader. It’s really what Jesus did in sharing the parables, He told a story. So, in non-fiction, you can do that teaching in some telling, in fiction, we have to show everything. The writer has to show everything in the story that takes place. I can’t preach to a reader. I can’t teach through a novel directly. We can do some of that through dialogue. So, showing that theme, there’s specific ways to do that. Do it in a way that doesn’t beat the reader over the head, but still gives them a picture of the foundation of that novel, and the story that it’s sharing.
Kathi – I love it. Okay, so, that’s one of the things you’ll be teaching. This is why I take fiction classes, and this is why my fiction friends take non-fiction classes, to be able to learn these kinds of things. What’s a second thing that you’re going to be teaching while we’re together at The Red House?
Ginny – I want to delve into character and creating memorable characters. So, okay, To Kill a Mockingbird, again, Atticus Finch, Scout. Those are characters we remember, that we related to, that we could feel what they were feeling and engage with their emotions. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, a fantastically drawn character. Whether that’s a genre you enjoy, or not, as a reader, we could feel her emotion. We could experience what she was experiencing, and imagine ourselves in that scenario. So, how do we do that? There are some tools that I use and that I teach others to use, that help us to create very realistic, relatable, and memorable characters. Some of those tools are personality assessments and some of the Myers-Briggs, the Enneagram, but how do we do that, then, in a way that doesn’t make the character seem one dimensional, but very real to life, and three dimensional? Infusing them with quirks and characteristics that are unique to them, and making each character very individual and identifiable through dialogue and vocabulary choices and the deep POV, that interior thought, and all of that. So, I really want to spend some time delving into the creation of characters, because as much as the plot and the story arch carry the novel, those characters are what is going to draw the reader in and really help them identify with the story. It’s what I love doing the most.
Kathi – Oh, I love that. There’s nothing worse than reading a book, and not being able to keep track of people. It’s like, “If I can’t keep track of them, I’m lost in the story, or I’m surprised by why this person is acting this way.” In the best stories, we can, by the way somebody says something, or how they’re moving, we’ve already defined that character in our minds. We can separate them from the other people that are there. I love The Hunger Games, by the way. Okay, so we’re going to learn a lot about Theme. We’re going to learn a lot about Character Development, and what’s the third thing?
Ginny – The third thing isn’t going to sound very glamourous, but it can be really fun. It is very important for when we’re talking about advanced fiction. What I consider Advanced Fiction, that term, I’m looking at writers who have completed a manuscript, or are well on their way to completing a manuscript, whether it’s published or unpublished. Or, a writer who is two or three books in, but wants to continue growing the in craft of writing. One of the things that help us grow, both as fiction and non-fiction authors, is our ability to edit our own work. So, I’m going to talk some about self-editing, but the fun that we can have. That’s where we can really dress up our work. That’s where we get to look at our word choices and look out our metaphors and similes that we’re using. It’s all that geeky stuff, that craft stuff that writers really enjoy. It’s what takes our work to the next level. In fiction, a lot of that self-editing will be centered around the structure of the novel. So, you need to tell a good story, but unless you know the structure that story fits into, and the way the reader is going to interact with that story, you’re going to lose your reader. So, we’re going to talk about some of that building and what holds that story together, and how to look for those pieces.
Kathi – Right! And that’s going to keep you from getting the review on Amazon, DNF. Did Not Finish. I just recently found out about this. Oh my goodness. You couldn’t even bother to comment. It was so bad, you couldn’t even keep going. It’s like, “Oh my, goodness!” So, yes! I want to keep them hooked, and engaged, and part of that is leaving little treasures for them along the way. Not saving everything until the end, and building that arch. We’ve talked so much about this. I’m so excited to be able to do this with you. Okay, so guys, if you are interested in attending this and you’ve got some fiction under your belt, just click in the link below. June 7ththrough 12th, Advanced Fiction at Writing at The Red House. You know, maybe you’re not ready for that, but you’d like a good fiction book? Well, have we got something for you! Ginny has been kind enough to give us a book to give away to one of our listeners. Go ahead and comment on our Facebook page. You can ask a question. You can say what you want to learn most about good fiction techniques. We’ll be picking one random winner to win a copy of Invisible. Ginny, give us the two-second description of Invisible.
Ginny – Invisible is the story about a woman who is carrying a little bit, or a lot of extra weight, and because of some of her struggles with self-image, doesn’t believe that she is eligible for romance.
Kathi – Okay, I know what is next on my Ginny list. I love it. Ginny, thank you for being such an amazing gift. I’m so excited about our retreat in June.
Ginny – Thank you. I’m really looking forward to it. Thank you for letting me geek out a little bit about fiction today. That’s always fun.
Kathi – Well, guys, I can’t wait. I’ll be teaching about marketing your fiction, like a non-fiction pro, so we’re going to have a lot of fun and go really deep. I think it’s going to be an amazing time. By the way, June, at The Red House is something spectacular. So, thanks for joining us. You’ve been listening to Communicator Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. You’ve been given the best message in the world. Now, go live it.
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Meet Your Hosts
Christy-award winning author and Fiction-writing expert
Ginny L. Yttrup is the award-winning author of five novels including Home, which released April 2017. She writes contemporary women’s fiction and enjoys exploring the issues everyday women face. Publishers Weekly dubbed Ginny’s work “as inspiring as it is entertaining.” When not writing, Ginny coaches writers, critiques manuscripts, and makes vintage-style jewelry for her Esty shop, Storied Jewelry. She loves dining with friends, hanging out with her adult children, gardening, or spending a day reading a great novel. Ginny lives in northern California. To learn more about Ginny and her work, visit www.ginnyyttrup.com.
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