Jan Flanders

As everyone who has not been dwelling under a rock for the past half century knows full well, Jan Flanders is a world-renowned expert on writing, editing, and publishing fiction. A bona fide member of the landed gentry dating back to the Jamestown, Virginia, settlement, and a magna cum laude graduate of Ms. Finicky’s Foundational Finishing School of Fiction for Well-Bred Females (FFFSFWBF), she resides with her three Angora cats in the heart of the deep South on the plantation, sadly diminished, where she was born and reared, and which her family has owned since before creation. God forbid she would ever allow it to fall into the rapacious hands of any vile Northern carpetbagger! Rest assured that will happen over her cold, dead body. She is still mourning the lamentable outcome of the late War of Northern Aggression, and if you know what is good for you, you would be well advised not to bring up the subject unless you wish to have your ears roundly pinned back. If anyone knows etiquette, it is our own dear Ms. Flanders, and she is doing you a favor by sharing her expertise with the likes of you, so be certain to keep to your place. If you do not demonstrate proper gratitude and humility, she is likely to give you a brisk rap on the knuckles or some other especially tender body part with her ruler in order to get your attention and ensure you compliance.

Fiction Etiquette with a Southern Twist Twisted Southern

Good mornin’, ya’ll—if it’s possible for any moment durin’ the sultry dog days of August to be good. Ah fear Ah am about to have a sinkin’ spell. Why, Ah am positively aglow, and that is not a situation any lady wants to find herself in! It’s well past time for me to head on up to the plateau to cool my cucumbers, so to speak. Oh, Ah am just toooo funny! But that’s enough of that. Ah simply don’t have the energy to maintain a state of levity today. This heat is plumb wearin’ me out.

The minute we finish here, darlin’s—and we are fixin’ to do that with dispatch—Ah am headin’ straight off to my grandpappy’s sprawlin’ summer retreat up in the mountains. And Ah have no intentions of returnin’ until fall. So let’s get to today’s business before Ah faint dead away at your feet!

Dear Ms. Flanders,

The writers on my e-mail loop keep bringing up this topic that is so far above my head that I can’t grasp it at all. They keep talking about something they call a deep point of view. I finally grasped the concept of a regular POV, only to discover that according to my colleagues I still don’t have it right! I don’t get it. If I am staying inside someone’s head and not flipping between the characters’ thoughts, then how am I still wrong? What in the world are they talking about? Should I even care as long as I’m not head hopping in every chapter? Isn’t mastering that enough for my writing to still grab my readers?


Exasperated beyond words—which is a terrible place for a writer to be because it’s killing my creativity here!

Dear Exasperated,

Do be so good as to reference my column in last month’s issue concernin’ showin’ versus tellin’. Ah said everythin’ that needs to be said about either matter in that article. Fads of writin’ come and go,

and Ah don’t hold too much truck in the whim of the moment when proven methods have endured the test of time, thank you very much! Why, didn’t your mama ever ask if all your friends jumped off a cliff whether you’d do the same? The principle applies here as well. Take note of it and stop your whinin’, baby doll.

Ah must say, I polished that one off in record time! Ah have just a moment left before mah departure to indulge in a bracin’ draught of Aunt Emmaline’s blackberry tonic. That ought to set mah blood in a delightful whirl! See y’all next month for another informative class devoted to the Sacred Laws of Fiction Etiquette—if Ah make it back in time!

Upcoming Topics


September: Can it ever be proper for a Christian to write stories that aren’t true? What is the place of fiction in the Christian market? Is there one?

October: Stories about demons seem to be steadily growing in popularity. On the other hand, so are stories about the Amish. What gives?