What to Write?

By William E. Dempsey

I’m staring at the dreaded blank screen, page one of my next manuscript, wondering what to write. The most common, albeit well worn, advice is to write about what you know. The problem is that many people know what I know. How can I find a way to make what I know exciting enough for others to want to read about it?

The first important element to remember is that this tome will be fiction. It doesn’t have to withstand the scrutiny of an over enthusiastic fact-checker. I prefer historical fiction, so the underlying story must be factually correct. I have now narrowed my thinking somewhat. The next logical step is to pick an event or era to serve as the foundation of the story and the starting point for the necessary research. Ah, since I’m a lot older than most people on the planet are, maybe I do know some things the younger masses don’t.

Last night on TV, I watched a man interview young people on Malibu Beach. It was President’s Day, so his questions involved American history and her presidents. He held up a picture of Abraham Lincoln and asked a young woman who it was. She guessed, “George Washington.” He then asked a college-aged man, “Who won the Civil War?” The immediate response was, “America.” I’m on safe ground, better prepared for this task than I had imagined.

I make a cup of coffee—thinking always makes me thirsty. Okay, how about World War II. Most Americans alive today were born well after the war ended. That might make it interesting reading, but thousands of books have already told those stories. Maybe the Korean conflict? No, same problem; lots of writing has already been done on the subject. More coffee. How about the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962? By Job, I’ve got it. The event happened over fifty years ago, so it meets the time requirement of the genre. I was remotely involved, which always helps. That’s it, keyboard—ready; mouse—ready; fingers don’t fail me now:

“It was a dark and stormy night when the crisis began …”

Do You Call Yourself A Writer?


By Claudia Chianese

The conference room door opens unexpectedly, a reference librarian steps inside and says; “I’m sorry to interrupt but I have a college student working on a project who needs to interview a writer.” A petite girl with cropped hair and cocoa skin stands at her side clutching a notebook to her chest. Her brown eyes are saucer like with awe. Dave, sitting to my right, has been unable to access today’s submissions since his computer crashed, and raises his hand, “I’m a writer; I can help you with that.” The melodious cadence of his voice fills the room and reflects his life passion of working in radio. He chuckles amused with himself and adds, “We’re all writers.” I am envious of his quiet confidence and it is an ah ha moment for me. It is true; everyone in attendance is a writer.

Florida Writers Association is the organization behind today’s critique meeting. Many of us are members, although you can attend meetings as a non-member. The feedback is extremely beneficial and the tag line, “Writers helping Writers” is in practice. As a beginner, this is where I learn about writing. Attention to particulars or technical aspects, e.g., where to put a comma, are addressed, as well as plot development, tone and voice.

Words are powerful. Writers have equal access and use of them. However, the art of careful selection and weaving words together touches a reader’s heart, or offends them.

I started writing in retirement and hid my efforts from even my husband until he inquired, “What are you doing behind closed doors?”

I sheepishly had to admit, “Writing.”

When others ask, “What do you do in retirement? I choose from several responses. Sometimes I say; “Writing is my pastime, or I’m learning to write.” Other times that I attend writer groups and practice writing; however, I do not call myself a writer.

Silly isn’t it? Writing is not about the label. It is about the activity and capturing a feeling.

As Dave left the room, I wondered what questions the young lady would ask him, and how many others in the room call themselves a writer.

Do you call yourself a writer?


Welcome to the Daytona Area Writers Blog. We are a well-rounded  and diverse group of writers. Some of our members have been traditionally published, some are self-published, some are seeking publishers for their finished works and others are hard at work crafting their novels.

Our group also represents several genres, from murder mystery cozies, historical fiction, all the way to paranormal fiction, horror, memoir and poetry.

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