Not Knowing Is Good for Creativity

According to Donald Barthelme, “A writer is someone who, embarking upon a task, does not know what to do.” In fact, Barthelme thinks that not knowing is essential to the creation of art.

Think about it. If you know exactly what to do, you simply do it. You don’t consider alternatives, you don’t ponder “what if,” you don’t look for a better way. Out of the meanderings of the mind, creativity is born. That is where uniqueness lies, where your voice is waiting to be found, where the spark that inspires and fires up a piece comes to light. Not knowing is good when it leads you down a new path.

Ignorance may or may not be bliss, but it can definitely be opportunity.


What is Women’s Fiction?

Regardless of where a bookstore shelves Women’s Fiction, to a publisher seeking that genre a book isn’t Women’s Fiction just because it’s something a woman is likely to read or because it has a female protagonist.

It isn’t Romance. A romance focuses on the relationship and the developing romance, and it must have a “happily ever after” ending. If it’s Romantic Suspense, the suspense helps drive the romance.

The theme of Women’s Fiction is understanding women. What is it like to be a woman? What are her hopes and dreams? Does she have a goal in life? How does a woman deal with challenges? How do experiences change her? It may or may not have a romantic element. It might have sex scenes, but not necessarily. The “happily ever after” ending? Not required. Readers can relate to the real life situations in these books, where Romance often has a element of fantasy about it.

Although the definition may blur for some publishers, Women’s Fiction is a popular genre separate from the traditional romance and one well worth considering.

Tips on Mystery Writing

Here are some useful links if you’re writing mystery:

 There is a Yahoo group for fiction and nonfiction crime writers where you can ask and get answers on crime scene investigation, applied forensics, and police procedure questions. You can either go to and search on “crimescenewriter” or just click this link.

The Practical Homicide site has some articles that might be helpful.

30 minute NPR interview with mystery writers Tana French and Louis Bayard on How To Write a Great Mystery  

Thirteen free online mystery writing lessons from Gillian Roberts, author of the Amanda Pepper Series

There’s a treasure trove of advice for mystery writers at Writing World.

15 mystery writing tips courtesy of Writers in the Storm

Mystery cliches to avoid

Effectively leaving clues in a mystery from Literary Library

Any links for mystery writers you’d like to share?

Flash Fiction newsletter

Pamelyn Casto publishes a free monthly e-mail newsletter devoted to markets, contests, and publishing news for short-short literature 1,500 words or fewer (including flash fiction, short-short fiction, prose poetry, haibun, flash memoirs, flash creative nonfiction, flash plays).

All potential subscribers have to do is send a blank email message to or go to and sign up from there.