author inspires with her fishy tale

I returned the to the library the following day, to attend the Richmond Writers Group meeting. A small group of writing enthusiasts meet monthly on a Tuesday afternoon from 1-2 pm to listen to a speaker, usually a writer promoting their book and offering tips to fellow writing enthusiasts. Afterwards, the group, led by Tania Patton, engage in practical writing exercises for another hour.

Today they gathered to hear local Motueka writer Judy Fisher enlighten us on her writing journey and production of her first book, a self-published memoir named Off the Hook. The hour flew. I didn’t want it to end. I was plagued by thoughts, that others present might perceive my endless questions as dominating the session. They assured me otherwise. My questions were useful.

Though much of Judy’s tips weren’t new, I never tire of hearing them. I guess this wisdom, from one who is experienced is affirming. After all, she is reminiscing with hindsight and firsthand knowledge upon completion of a mammoth project. The more I hear, the more I’m hooked, and feel closer to tackling my long term projects one day; to publish a novel or memoir, like Judy and her fishing tales.

Here’s what Judy said about writing her book;

  • It’s hard work, a learned craft and an expensive undertaking
  • Avoid adverbs, replace them with strong verbs
  • Avoid ‘ing’ words
  • Conserve your use of prepositions and words like; try, it was, very.
  • Avoid clichés – it’s so easy to write these unintentionally
  •  Watch sentence structure and clauses
  • Maintain two tenses or decide to stick to one
  • Never say ‘around’ or ‘about’ to describe dates or years
  • Minimise, but check detail for accuracy of your content
  • Write about emotions and feelings – this is what readers want
  • Write lots of dialogue in the present tense to break up the boredom – add gesture for characterisation
  • Use imagery to haunt, delight, surprise e.g. ‘a stale load of bread’ became the metaphor for Judy’s memoir. It’s how she saw herself at the time of writing
  • What she started out planning to write – a memoir of travel stories – morphed into a fuller expose of her life but was set within a ten-year period, punctuated by two specific e mails.
  • Use a proof reader. This is worth doing to eliminate errors. This step is often skipped. A friend of mine is a local Nelson-based proof-reader/copy editor, Amanda Elworthy. Her business contact is
  • Copy Press in Tahuna come highly recommended for self-publishing.

I left with an upbeat bounce in my step, affirmed by the mantra, I too can do this. It’s within my capabilities and I now have another goal to work towards. The Diploma course ends and my writing journey continues.

Thanks Judy.

Off The Hook is available from local booksellers for $35.00. It’s a great read.


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