5 Bits Of Writing Advice From Kathy Reichs

5 Bits Of Writing Advice From Kathy Reichs

In this post, Writers Write features bits of writing advice from Kathy Reichs.

About Kathy Reichs

Kathy Reichs was born 7 July 1948. She is an American crime author, professor, and forensic anthropologist. Her debut novel Déjà Dead was published in 1997, introducing the heroine Tempe Brennan. Her novels inspired the hit Fox series Bones (2005 to 2017). She also co-writes the series Virals with her son Brendan, a ‘recovering attorney’.

Bits Of Writing Advice From Kathy Reichs

  1. Outline Your Story

‘I outline the first six or seven chapters. I know what the ending is going to be and I know what the big plot twist is going to be but as I write it’s more of a free flow, and often in midstream a twist will come to me.’ – Interview With The Big Thrill

Outline your story.

Basic plot details are hard to write without taking some direction. An outline is your guideline, where you’re free to write, but also know where you’re headed.

Readers often think, ‘Wow, how did they come up with that?’

A clear outline means writers know which plot twists are coming, but readers don’t. Without an online, you’re writing in the dark.

  1. Try Writing Fiction

‘I didn’t anticipate writing fiction. I had never written fiction. I’d written textbooks and journal articles but never fiction. I’d worked there at least six or seven years I think before I decided to try to write fiction.’ – Interview With CBC

Kathy Reichs is a bestselling author today, but there was a time where fiction was still a first. All authors start somewhere.

If you’ve never written fiction before, don’t let it stop you. If you’ve never approached a magazine or newspaper with a pitch idea, make tomorrow morning your first time.

You’ll never know without trying.

How about try writing fiction?

  1. Write Things You Like

‘I write the kind of book I like to read. I don’t have any training in writing. I really avoided literature classes at the university, I preferred taking you know zoology and physiology and all the “-ologies” over in the lab.’- Interview With CBC

Don’t try to be literary or highbrow: it doesn’t sell to most readers (or editors).

Kathy Reichs applied her career experience, and wrote something she liked reading. The bestselling ‘Bones’ series has been translated into more than 30 languages, with a television deal.

Write things you like.

Writers are better authors, when they’re as excited about the story as their readers are.

  1. Authentic, Honest, And Jargon-Free

‘You’ve got to keep the science brief and you’ve got to keep it authentic, honest and jargon-free. You can’t rely on all the special terminology we use among ourselves as scientists. I think those are the three rules of thumb when you’re writing science in fiction.’- Interview With CBC

Authentic, honest, and jargon-free.

That’s how Reichs describes her approach to science within stories. It’s a good rule for fiction writing in general.

This is what readers want their stories to be.

When stories aren’t these three, they don’t sell (or don’t sell well).

  1. Accuracy Matters

‘The bottom line is a good story. I wanted to write a good story. But I am fanatic about getting the science accurate, even if it’s not my science, if I’m using forensic ballistics analysis or blood spatter pattern or whatever, I do sit down with one of our expects at the lab and go through it so that I make sure I have it right.’- Interview with Linda McGee

Accuracy always matters for stories.

Readers like facts, and enjoy learning things amidst good fiction. Crime fiction isn’t the same without facts based in reality: this is all in the research.

If you wrote courtroom fiction, then you’d want a lawyer to enjoy it, and not point out the inaccuracies!

Reichs relies on experts for details. Other writers like Stephen King also thank many experts in their notes: it’s essential, because one writer can’t know everything.

The Last Word 

This post looked at bits of writing advice from Kathy Reichs. View some of the other posts on Writers Write for advice from more bestselling authors like Mickey Spillane, Arthur Hailey, and Agatha Christie.

Source for image: Kathy Reichs

By Alex J. Coyne. Alex is a writer, proofreader, and regular card player. His features about cards, bridge, and card playing have appeared in Great Bridge Links, Gifts for Card Players, Bridge Canada Magazine, and Caribbean Compass. Get in touch at alexcoyneofficial.com.

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TIP: If you want help writing a book, buy The Novel Writing Exercises Workbook.

Posted on: 7th July 2023