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Thom E. Gemcity’s Guide to Fiction Writing

thom e gemcityThose of you who do not watch “NCIS” every time it comes on television (currently at least three times each day) are probably confused by the title of this post. My advice? GO WATCH “NCIS”! Seriously. It’s that good.

Anyway, Thom E. Gemcity is the nom de plume of Timothy McGee, an NCIS agent and technical wizard. It is also an anagram of Timothy McGee, which makes it ten times more fun.

Since I’m an “NCIS” freak fan, I thought I might share a few gems of advice I learned from watching Thom E. Gemcity publish his (fictional) first bestselling novel, DEEP SIX.

1- Your Friends Cracked Your Code

One of the most common pieces of advice given to amateur writers is to “write what you know”, a tidbit that Thom E. Gemcity took to heart in the penning of DEEP SIX. Each of his characters is based on someone he knows in real life, and when his coworkers discover the similarities, he gets oodles of flak.

The thing is, your friends and family know you better than anyone else, and they’re going to see through your disguise and know you based characters on them. This is fine if your characters are portrayed as wondrous beings of splendor and light, but not so much if one of them dreams of fornicating with the dead.

Thom E. Gemcity renamed Leroy Jethro Gibbs as L.J. Tibbs; Ziva as Lisa; Tony as Tommy; Jimmy as Pimi—he wasn’t exactly subtle. If you’re going to write about people you know, make sure you let them know in advance.

2- Typewriters Are Out

McGee, alias Thom E. Gemcity, is a computer geek who graduated from M.I.T., yet he pens his mystery novels on an old Remington typewriter that isn’t even electric. Unfortunately, his old-world ways Godsmack him during the episode ‘Cover Story’ when an obsessed fan uses McGee’s typewriter strips to piece together his next novel.

The moral of the story? Modern technology is a friend to all writers. You might enjoy the click-clacking of typewriter keys, but a computer will safeguard your files and save you from typing pages over and over again until they are perfect.

Unlike Thom E. Gemcity, you should also avail yourself of the latest in computer-related security. Back up your writing with thumb drives or CDs and keep them in a safe place—you know, like a fireproof safe under your bed.

3- Fame Comes at a Price

Thom E. Gemcity teaches us that fiction writers aren’t necessarily as obscure as we think they are. His publicist receives several letters from fans who cross the border into stalker-dom, creating a long list of suspects in that same episode, ‘Cover Story’.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t connect with people as a fiction writer, nor does it mean you should hole yourself away in a cabin in the woods. Just be careful to protect your identity if you plan to publish fiction and make sure you never post contact information that could lead people to your home.

4- Writers Need Thick Skin

Thom E. Gemcity’s novel DEEP SIX is subtitled “The Continuing Adventures of L.J. Tibbs”, according to the NCIS Fan Wiki, and the back cover is filled with criticisms and praise from various fictional (and real) entities.

One Chad W. Murray (Timothy McGee’s real-life brother) writes: “Unfortunately, the book’s great weakness is L.J. Tibbs himself — a renegade cop stereotype difficult to feel for because he does not seem real, certainly less real than some of the characters surrounding him.”

Critics are harsh, and even Thom E. Gemcity is not immune to their carefully-aimed barbs. If you want to be a fiction writer, you’ve got to develop a thick skin that even the most bitter critics cannot pierce. Expect just as much criticism as praise, and don’t allow other’s opinions to slow your momentum.

5- Support Isn’t Always Forthcoming

The rest of the team always rags on Timothy McGee, calling him “McGeek” and “Elf Lord” because of his penchant for computer games and giving him a hard time about his social life. But Thom E. Gemcity get perhaps the worst of the teasing after the team discovers McGee’s alter-ego.

Some people will not support your fiction writing career, so get over that right now. It might be your mother, your brother, your best friend, your boss, the guy who delivers your newspaper in the morning—whoever. Just let their scoffing and their sarcasm roll of your shoulders.

6- Drafts Are Valuable

In addition to typing his novels on a typewriter, Thom E. Gemcity also shreds every failed draft of his manuscript—much to the annoyance of his downstairs neighbor. This means that if he happens to type a wonderful passage that might be used in a later work, it is gone forever as soon as he decides that it doesn’t work in a specific context.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used discarded scenes from one story in another. Changing the characters’ names, shifting the setting, adding and subtracting dialogue—but essentially the same sequence. Just because something doesn’t work now doesn’t mean you can’t use it at a later date.

7- Real Life Experience Helps

You might think that your life is boring, but I guarantee parts of your experience can be used in fictional writing. Whether you’re a federal agent or a postal worker, the jobs you’ve held and the relationships you’ve cultivated are fodder for future manuscripts. Don’t discount any experience as irrelevant.

Write On

Thom E. Gemcity isn’t a real writer, just like Timothy McGee is not a real NCIS agent. Nevertheless, his experiences with publication can inform your career in more ways than one.

Oh, and does anyone else find it funny that when you Google NCIS, the official CBS homepage for the television show is ranked higher than the real NCIS web site?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 14, 2017 11:00 pm

    There was this guy who believed very much in true love and decided to take his time to wait for his right girl to appear. So he hardened his heart and turned her down cruelly. The guy went on with his lie…f.. still searching for the one but somehow deep inside him, Then,

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