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Writing Lessons Learned From 'Ahead of Her Time'

A whimsical collage of Marilyn Monroe holding Erica Abbett's novel "Ahead of Her Time" in front of the pyramids

Aspiring writers are often told to “write what you know.”

It’s valuable advice, no doubt, lending verisimilitude to an otherwise unbelievable narrative.  HOWEVER, here’s the problem: our lives rarely conform to a three-act structure. 

While writing what we “know” may leave us with good individual scenesit often leaves us lacking in the plot department

That’s exactly what happened with me while writing Ahead of Her Time. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of pages I had to re-write to turn my hodgepodge collection of scenes into a proper story! 

I’m starting to work on the sequel, but this time, I’m going about things very differently. One of the things I’m changing? I’m not going to rely quite as much on what I “know.” 

For book one, many of the scenes were pulled directly from my own life — some were even once blog posts or journal entries! I basically just changed the names. 

I had to do some fancy editing to turn all these real-life scenes into a workable story. 

This time, I’m starting with the story. Whatever “real” experiences or knowledge I can weave in, great. But the story leads. Not what I “know”!

I dive more into what I’ve learned since writing Ahead of Her Time in episode 48 of the Vocabbett podcast. Tune in below, or on your favorite podcast player!

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