Writer’s Guild’s Mary Jo Beling’s variety of styles keeps writing fresh

Mary Jo Belding

Mary Jo Belding

Jan Marx

Several years ago Mary Jo published two children’s books, Aunt Minnie McGrenahan, for which she won several prizes including The Parents’ Choice Award and Aunt Minnie and the Twister. This year she’ll publish a young adult novel and presently is working on an adult mystery.

Like many of us, Mary Jo put her writing career on hold to raise children and pursue a career. We found it was almost impossible to write what we wanted in the midst of writing reports, projects or articles required by our positions. It’s not that we don’t think about writing, it’s just that we don’t have time. Storing plots and characters in our minds is often the only satisfying way to create a book. Retirement, however, changes that. Finally having time to write and edit and rewrite is a tremendous gift. Accepting that gift is rewarding.

Writing tip of the month: “Use of words” continued. From time to time the members of our critique group discuss whether certain words (what we used to call “bad words”) contribute to the writing. Usually we find that we don’t need our characters to spew profanity across the page. Perhaps it’s our ages; we’ve already heard or said those words and no longer believe they are necessary in our daily speech or our writing. Many of our characters are strong, but they show it in their actions, not in their speech. “Tough-guy” novels can say what they want, but our choices are to avoid profanity and gratuitous sex or violence. It’s our choice.