The Journal, Tuesday, 2/28

Hey Folks,

Well, I finished the novel.

A very strange process on this one that I hope I will never repeat. I think taking the day off yesterday helped a lot.

I almost took today off too. I was thinking about writing a short story today, but then a transition for the current story came to mind. Kind of a missing link. (grin)

I sat down, applied the transition, then just kept typing. And as has always happened before, the story ended where it was supposed to.

Once I started typing, I hit my stride at just over 1000 words per hour.

* * *

To follow up on yesterday’s “Write What You Mean” here’s something similar for you.

Topic: Human Parts Do Not Have Human Traits

This topic doesn’t favor any particular body part, really. And most of these aren’t as humorous as “her eyes drifted around the room and eventually lit in the corner on a barrel of nails.” But some of them are pretty good.

Basically, any time any body part is the subject of a sentence, you probably need to recast the sentence.

At least in the example that got me started yesterday (The baron … raked his eyes across everyone at the table) the human, the baron, was actually performing the action.

Had the writer written, “The baron’s eyes raked across everyone at the table” it would have been doubly awkward.

‘Cause eyes can’t do that. The baron wouldn’t do it, but his eyes can’t do it.

Only in certain, very specific circumstances can eyes do anything on their own.

If eyes ever legitimately “shoot across the room,” their owner better have been slapped in the back of the head with great force a split second earlier. Just sayin’.

So don’t write stuff like

Close to the window, his ears heard an eerie sound.

Her nose (or her palms or her forehead) pressed up against the glass.

Her hands (or hips or butt or forearm) leaned on the rail of the ship.

His hand crept along the back of the seat and eventually made it to her shoulder.

As her left hand held the forestock firmly, her right hand worked the lever on the 30-30.

As my hands ran past my ears, I felt something in my ear lobes.

Tossing my hand across the couch’s back with studied casualness, I attempted to initiate the usual subtle encircling movement but to no avail.

Chloe’s head went up and down.

Bill’s face broke into a grin that wouldn’t stop.

His eyes roamed across the room, stopping at a table with no empty chairs.

His face turned deadly silent.

His long muscular legs effortlessly loped after the bus.

Her eyes slowly climbed the tree.

Her legs raced frantically down the street.

“A place called Valentino’s,” he said as his eyes touched hers.

And as a bonus, here’s one of my favorite oddities, although this doesn’t fit the “human parts don’t have human traits” category. This is from an email I received a few years ago: “I hate to miss your class, but I’m leaving town unexpectedly tomorrow.”

You get the idea.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out late at 4:30 after a pretty rough night. But it’s a new day. (grin)

I messed around up at the house until around 9:30, then headed out to the Hovel. I had an idea for a transition. Maybe this will be it.

10 a.m., to the novel.

Writing almost steadily, with a couple of short breaks, I finished the novel at 1:17. Woohoo! On to the next story!

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Dean mentions the beginning of the new season of The Voice. All I’ve seen on the show personally is a reiteration of what I already know.

Fiction Words: 2994
Nonfiction Words: 630 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3624

Writing of Will Perkins (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4219 words. Total words to date…… 4219
Day 2…… 4003 words. Total words to date…… 8222
Day 3…… 3383 words. Total words to date…… 11605
Day 4…… 3124 words. Total words to date…… 14729
Day 5…… 3373 words. Total words to date…… 18102
Day 6…… 2294 words. Total words to date…… 20396
Day 7…… 3102 words. Total words to date…… 23498
Day 8…… 2578 words. Total words to date…… 26076
Day 9…… 2111 words. Total words to date…… 28187
Day 10… 2561 words. Total words to date…… 30748
Day 11… 4073 words. Total words to date…… 34821
Day 12… 1721 words. Total words to date…… 35648
Day 13… 3289 words. Total words to date…… 38937
Day 14… 2311 words. Total words to date…… 41248
Day 15… 2262 words. Total words to date…… 43510
Day 16… 2046 words. Total words to date…… 45556
Day 17… 4189 words. Total words to date…… 49745
Day 18… 4758 words. Total words to date…… 54503
Day 19… 2648 words. Total words to date…… 57178
Day 20… 2231 words. Total words to date…… 59409
Day 21… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 61419
Day 22… 4147 words. Total words to date…… 65566
Day 23… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 67576
Day 24… 1976 words. Total words to date…… 69552
Day 25… 2728 words. Total words to date…… 72280
Day 26… 1217 words. Total words to date…… 73497
Day 27… 2994 words. Total words to date…… 76491 (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 59256
Total fiction words for the year………… 151866
Total nonfiction words for the month… 16900
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 36590

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 188456

Measurements and Dimensions

Hi Folks,

This post first was published in a slightly different version on October 10, 2016 over on the Daily Journal. I’m reposting it here because I felt it needed a broader audience and might help some of you.

Got a great email from a respected writer friend recently (Thanks, JGV!) regarding my current WIP (back in October, 2015). He wrote

What about doing away with the specific dimensions and leaving the images of the structures, etc., up to the reader’s imagination unless it’s critical to the story. Maybe imply those measurements through dialogue or description like “cramped” or “spacious.” (The account of Noah’s ark might’ve worked better without enumerating cubits.)

That’s a good and valid and point, and as it turns out, he caught me just in time. He made me think.

So when should we include dimensions and when should we not include them? As my friend mentioned, they should be included when they’re critical to the story.

That sounds simple, but beneath the surface it’s problematic. To at least some degree, the reader determines what is critical and what is not. Omit the dimensions and some readers will find the writing “thin.” Include them, and other readers will skip over that part, as I have done occasionally in Heinlein and Asimov novels.

So to expand a bit on the discussion of what should be included, maybe dimensional details should also be included when they’re not critical but still interesting and/or entertaining.

Which leads us to wonder how to determine what is or is not interesting and/or entertaining. To the reader. (Always remember there’s a reader on the other end of the writing.)

As I wrote earlier, my friend’s email made me think. What I came up with is this question and the following rules of thumb:

Q: What exists within the character’s and reader’s probable shared area of experience?

1. If the feature you want to describe does NOT exist within the character’s and reader’s probable shared area of experience (e.g., a lunar colony), include the dimensions.

2. If the feature DOES exist within the character’s and reader’s probable shared area of experience (e.g., a bedroom within the lunar colony), do NOT include the dimensions. Here you would opt instead for descriptors like “cramped” or “spacious” because the reader has seen an apartment and can relate.

I like to think I already knew this, but if I did, I hadn’t yet realized that I knew it. I do now, so it’s more firmly rooted in my subconscious. That’s a Good Thing.

As one other more or less minor consideration, I’m writing into the dark here. I’m allowing the characters to tell the story. (A technique I highly recommend because it’s so freeing.)

So say a character wants (or needs) to know specific dimensions as evidenced by her awe at first stepping into a lunar colony. Should I stop the Receiving Liaison who appears at her shoulder (having noticed her sense of awe) from delivering a short canned speech regarding the massive dimensions?

No.

The colony is new and wonderful to the character. It’s also new and (I hope) wonderful to most readers. So the dimensions are necessary, though probably not critical.

But should I also then drill down to the nitty-gritty and describe in meters and feet the size of the bedroom in the apartment the character is eventually assigned?

Again, no.

The apartment (living room, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom) already exists within the character’s and reader’s shared experience.

So in that case, the character might note (for example) there’s barely room for a double bed in the bedroom, much less the seating area and walk-in closet the character enjoyed in her home on Earth. But she doesn’t need specific dimensions for that.

And much as people generally disagree with differences between genders in this bizarre day and age, whether or not a character will wonder about dimensional details (and so whether the writer should include them) also goes to the character’s gender.

A character who has spent his life excavating sites like the Queen Open-Pit Copper Mine in Bisbee Arizona probably won’t wonder at the specific current size of the lunar cavern in which he works. If he does so at all, he probably will do so via comparison (e.g., “cramped” or “spacious” as compared with Queen Mine or some other place he’s been).

But if his wife is allowed to visit the worksite, she might well ask questions like, “Wow! How big is this place?” And when he answers, he might well brag. “Well, it’s only (insert massive dimensions) but it’ll be (insert even larger dimensions) when we’re through.”

As an added thought, this morning I got another email from another very good writer friend whom I respect a great deal. He recommended writing using whatever measurements I’m comfortable with (feet/yards) to facilitate the flow of the writing. Then I can convert everything afterward to the appropriate unit of measurement. Another excellent idea. Thanks, RJS!

So thanks to my friends for the mental exercise. Overnight I have learned and grown as a writer, and I have JGV and RJS to thank.

‘Til next time, happy writing!

Harvey

The Journal, Monday, 2/27

Hey Folks,

More than likely this will be a nonwriting day. Trying to stay true to my word and just stay away from the novel today.

It isn’t as easy as it sounds. But I think I can do it. It’s really weird though, taking a day to just do nothing.

I’ve been spending some quality time with my Toyota 4-Runner (finally located a back window glass), chasing down an errant package online, etc.

Anyway, I thought I ought to at least put up a good topic for you.

Topic: Write. What. You. Mean.

For many years I’ve kept a running list of awkward expressions, misplaced modifiers, and other syntactical anomalies that run the risk of distracting a reader. And by “distracting the reader” I mean jerking the reader out of the story.

Most often, this is a result of inserting unintentional humor into a serious scene. If the scene is also meant to invoke feelings of sadness or despair or tension, the inadvertent insertion has an even stronger effect.

One of my favorite authors once wrote that a character “kicked her horse up a hill.”

Of course, she meant to write that the character “spurred” her horse up the hill. But she caught that before it was published.

That instance was truly unique, too. These anomalies more often have to do with eyes than with any other human attribute.

I’ve seen eyes popping out of heads, flying around the room, lighting on lapels, and wandering dreamily along a garden path, among many other actions that eyes generally won’t take on their own.

Now just for the record, I don’t go looking for these things unless I’m being paid to copyedit a work. Otherwise I’m just another reader, reading (or trying to) for pleasure.

But when the reader is jerked out of the story by some inane word or phrase, that’s strictly the responsibility of the writer.

I made the latest addition to my list this morning. And I took it from a passage the author used in a pull-quote on a website to advertise the book. Seriously.

Now I count this author as a friend, so I won’t mention the author’s name or website or gender or the name of the book. Here’s the sentence:

The baron shifted in his seat and raked his eyes across everyone at the table.

My first reaction was a grin. The second was a snarky, “Wow, dude, that must’a hurt.”

Tension gone.

Seriously, can you imagine what the poor baron must have gone through in “raking his eyes” across those folks?

And the folks themselves must have been thoroughly grossed out, as evidenced by the very next sentence in the pull quote:

Several members began to protest….

Two more snarky thoughts came to mind: “Y’think?” and “Yes, I imagine they would.”

I actually laughed out loud. And for me, just like that, the passage the author used to entice me to buy the book had the exact opposite effect. The book was a definite no-buy.

Now understand, this doozy occurred in a serious, tension-filled passage in a serious, tension-filled book.

Of course, I know the author meant the baron raked his “gaze” across those at the table. Or that he “glared” at them. Or something.

Something that didn’t involve trying to make me (the reader) grin and be snarky.

When I mentioned this sort of thing during a presentation at a writers’ conference, a writer in the audience said, “But the reader will know what I mean.”

Yes. The reader will know what you mean. The reader will figure it out. And it takes only a second or two for the reader to go through that process.

But figuring out what you mean is not the reader’s job. The reader’s job is to relax and be entertained.

And that second or two might well be all it takes for him or her to put down your book and find something enjoyable to read.

The bigger problem with this sort of thing is that if a writer uses it once, s/he’ll use it throughout the book. And knowing it will be there (it was in the pull quote) keeps me and untold others from buying the book in the first place.

Think about that.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out a little after 4. I have to take the grandson in to work around 7:30, then go get him around 1 unless they keep him longer.

No writing, other than the above. I also cross-posted the topic to the big blog. It will go live there in November.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Nothing today. Dean announced the March online workshops if you’re interested.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 780 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 780

Writing of Will Perkins (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4219 words. Total words to date…… 4219
Day 2…… 4003 words. Total words to date…… 8222
Day 3…… 3383 words. Total words to date…… 11605
Day 4…… 3124 words. Total words to date…… 14729
Day 5…… 3373 words. Total words to date…… 18102
Day 6…… 2294 words. Total words to date…… 20396
Day 7…… 3102 words. Total words to date…… 23498
Day 8…… 2578 words. Total words to date…… 26076
Day 9…… 2111 words. Total words to date…… 28187
Day 10… 2561 words. Total words to date…… 30748
Day 11… 4073 words. Total words to date…… 34821
Day 12… 1721 words. Total words to date…… 35648
Day 13… 3289 words. Total words to date…… 38937
Day 14… 2311 words. Total words to date…… 41248
Day 15… 2262 words. Total words to date…… 43510
Day 16… 2046 words. Total words to date…… 45556
Day 17… 4189 words. Total words to date…… 49745
Day 18… 4758 words. Total words to date…… 54503
Day 19… 2648 words. Total words to date…… 57178
Day 20… 2231 words. Total words to date…… 59409
Day 21… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 61419
Day 22… 4147 words. Total words to date…… 65566
Day 23… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 67576
Day 24… 1976 words. Total words to date…… 69552
Day 25… 2728 words. Total words to date…… 72280
Day 26… 1217 words. Total words to date…… 73497
Day 27… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 56262
Total fiction words for the year………… 148872
Total nonfiction words for the month… 16270
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 35960

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 184832

The Journal, Sunday, 2/26

Hey Folks,

I’ve finally seen a pattern developing.

Originally, I wanted to rise hyper-early so I could use that quiet time to write.

But most early mornings I check email first in case anyone (especially any writer) needs anything. Then I visit Facebook and scroll my notifications for items of interest. (I don’t use the “newsfeed” feature.) I try to at least Like anything friends post, and comment when appropriate.

After that, depending on my mood and the time, I return to my email to click and browse a few newsletters I receive regularly.

When that’s over, I visit Dean’s site. Most often, that’s when my “work” day really begins.

I open this rough Journal (a text document in Notepad), scroll to “Of Interest” and add whatever’s appropriate, if anything. Then I most often come up here and write a bit of nonfiction for the day.

Shortly after that, I change clothes, refill my coffee, and shuffle out to the Hovel to see what’s happening with my current story.

Just interesting to realize I have a routine. We all have them, but we don’t always aware that we have them.

* * *

With the WIP… (sigh) well, I was hoping it would end today. With today it would be 26 writing days and 31 calendar days. That’s a long LONG time.

I’ve reached an excellent transition point.

And nothing.

My conscious mind keeps screwing with me from a “but what happens next” standpoint.

So I’m going to set the novel aside for awhile and see what happens. Kind of putting myself in time out.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out a little after 4. I went through my morning routine, and moved to the Hovel at about 7. Back to cycling and searching for something I’m missing.

Not seeing it. That’s when I realized I’m thinking too much. I’m looking for things. What comes next? How? Where?

I’m taking the rest of the day off to spend with my wife. Maybe I’ve run my race. Who knows.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Nada.

Fiction Words: 1217
Nonfiction Words: 350 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1567

Writing of Will Perkins (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4219 words. Total words to date…… 4219
Day 2…… 4003 words. Total words to date…… 8222
Day 3…… 3383 words. Total words to date…… 11605
Day 4…… 3124 words. Total words to date…… 14729
Day 5…… 3373 words. Total words to date…… 18102
Day 6…… 2294 words. Total words to date…… 20396
Day 7…… 3102 words. Total words to date…… 23498
Day 8…… 2578 words. Total words to date…… 26076
Day 9…… 2111 words. Total words to date…… 28187
Day 10… 2561 words. Total words to date…… 30748
Day 11… 4073 words. Total words to date…… 34821
Day 12… 1721 words. Total words to date…… 35648
Day 13… 3289 words. Total words to date…… 38937
Day 14… 2311 words. Total words to date…… 41248
Day 15… 2262 words. Total words to date…… 43510
Day 16… 2046 words. Total words to date…… 45556
Day 17… 4189 words. Total words to date…… 49745
Day 18… 4758 words. Total words to date…… 54503
Day 19… 2648 words. Total words to date…… 57178
Day 20… 2231 words. Total words to date…… 59409
Day 21… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 61419
Day 22… 4147 words. Total words to date…… 65566
Day 23… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 67576
Day 24… 1976 words. Total words to date…… 69552
Day 25… 2728 words. Total words to date…… 72280
Day 26… 1217 words. Total words to date…… 73497

Total fiction words for the month……… 56262
Total fiction words for the year………… 148872
Total nonfiction words for the month… 15490
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 35180

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 184052

The Journal, Saturday, 2/25

Hey Folks,

In my WIP, things are bogged down. When that happens, I’ve either written past the ending (I didn’t in this case) or I took a wrong turn. Either that or there’s just something I’m not seeing.

So today I’m going to backtrack in the actual novel (vs. the reverse outline) to try to find where I took an oblique.

From there I’ll read over what I wrote just before that, then take off with whatever comes.

Topic: Balancing Two (or More) Passions

Hmm. I wonder how to balance two passions?

I love telling stories because it’s entertaining to me. That’s what so enjoyable about writing off into the dark.

But I also love my new guitar. And back in the day, I loved performing, playing and singing.

I’d never played a Peavey guitar until yesterday. In fact, I’d never seen one in person, to my knowledge. And this thing plays like a dream.

Put it this way: It plays so well, the action is so good, that I’m looking into lessons online. I’m copying scales and charts and pictures. I’m learning new things I was never even interested in before.

I was a pretty good rhythm guitarist for several years, but I played by ear.

But this guitar is so much fun that I want to learn a ton more about it and what I can do with it.

So just like writing.

I mentioned a day or two ago that you can often mine nuggets about writing from sites that are not about writing.

As one example, here’s a quick quote from the guitar site:

[T]he most important thing is that you enjoy what you’re doing and not necessarily whether you get any good. The truth is, if you do enjoy learning the guitar [or learning writing] you will definitely get better because you enjoy it and therefore learning doesn’t seem like a chore.

And another quote:

[T]ry to enjoy the difficulties that learning brings as much as the fruit it produces. There are fruits in the difficulties!

See what I mean? If you’re interested, the site is here: http://www.all-free-guitar-lessons.com/.

Of course, if you’re interested in playing the guitar and you’re anything less than an accomplished lead guitarist, you can also learn a great deal from this site about playing the guitar. (grin)

As a side note, no matter what you’re practicing, I think it’s also important to practice in private. You know, unless you’re a complete moron like I am.

I spill my guts on this Journal about learning to write, but yeah, I’ll be practicing guitar in private. (grin)

Hemingway once wrote something like, “It’s nobody’s business that you had to learn to write. Let them think you were born with it.”

Oh, but the question was about balancing passions. I think I’ll study the guitar charts, read, etc. early in the morning.

I’ll write later in the day, after I’m fully awake.

And I’ll practice on the guitar during the day also, when I Want To. Just like I currently practice my writing when I Want To. (grin)

For now, that’ll have to suffice for my version of balance. If you have any ideas or are yourself struggling with balancing two or more passions, please feel free to comment.

* * *

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3:40. Instead of spinning my wheels on Facebook etc., I spent time reading and studying the site I referenced above and then writing the stuff above this.

Around 7:30, my wife and I headed to the store. By 9:30 I was in the Hovel. I identified the wrong turn (in Chapter 22 of 31) and began cycling through that chapter.

Well, as it turns out, it wasn’t a wrong turn. The chapter just wasn’t filled out right. It was a perfect place for action, the characters had shown and told me what happened, and somehow I just failed to write it down.

So I took care of that, then moved forward through the next few chapters.

Counting this as a nonwriting day. Not enough new words to make a difference.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

A cat picture at Dean’s. That’s it. http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/a-friday-night-cat-picture/

Well, if you want to see some great visual humor (Charlie Chaplin in a boxing match), check out https://www.facebook.com/Niwomb1Official/videos/405341699665463/.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 700 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 700

Writing of Will Perkins (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4219 words. Total words to date…… 4219
Day 2…… 4003 words. Total words to date…… 8222
Day 3…… 3383 words. Total words to date…… 11605
Day 4…… 3124 words. Total words to date…… 14729
Day 5…… 3373 words. Total words to date…… 18102
Day 6…… 2294 words. Total words to date…… 20396
Day 7…… 3102 words. Total words to date…… 23498
Day 8…… 2578 words. Total words to date…… 26076
Day 9…… 2111 words. Total words to date…… 28187
Day 10… 2561 words. Total words to date…… 30748
Day 11… 4073 words. Total words to date…… 34821
Day 12… 1721 words. Total words to date…… 35648
Day 13… 3289 words. Total words to date…… 38937
Day 14… 2311 words. Total words to date…… 41248
Day 15… 2262 words. Total words to date…… 43510
Day 16… 2046 words. Total words to date…… 45556
Day 17… 4189 words. Total words to date…… 49745
Day 18… 4758 words. Total words to date…… 54503
Day 19… 2648 words. Total words to date…… 57178
Day 20… 2231 words. Total words to date…… 59409
Day 21… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 61419
Day 22… 4147 words. Total words to date…… 65566
Day 23… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 67576
Day 24… 1976 words. Total words to date…… 69552
Day 25… 2728 words. Total words to date…… 72280
Day 26… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 55045
Total fiction words for the year………… 147655
Total nonfiction words for the month… 15140
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 34830

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 182485

The Journal, Friday, 2/24

Hey Folks,

Apparently I visited Dean’s site too early yesterday. After I left he posted a new article. See “Of Interest” below. There’s a lot down there today, and it’s all good.

Ted White, one of the great editors of SF and Fantasy, needs help saving his house. If you can help, visit https://www.gofundme.com/44r62-save-my-house. And if you have a Facebook page and/or are in any writers’ groups, please share. (This is also in “Of Interest” below.)

In my own writing, I continue to get the feeling I’m writing two novels at one time. Not a conscious thought, but that quiet little voice in the back of my mind. Hmm.

For now, I think there’s nothing to do but keep letting the story come. Maybe this simply isn’t one of my typical 35,000 to 60,000 word novels

On the other hand, I suspect eventually the “split” between the first story and the second one will become obvious to me.

Topic: On the Importance of Writing and Practice

My friend Mary Ann Carman shared a newsletter she receives with me this morning, and I though it might be important to you as well.

I’ve made a few changes to bend it more toward writing.

When you play a game with family and friends — maybe card games or dominoes or checkers or Monopoly — do you lose sleep the night before?

Do you worry what people will think of your performance? Do you wonder how your past or your childhood years might influence your moves? Do you “replay” each turn in your mind the day after?

Probably not. Because it’s just for fun.

The same applies to your writing.

No matter what happens, nothing about it can detract from who you are. Just as you might not “win” the game, your latest masterpiece might not immediately rack up huge sales.

But you’ll be richer and wiser for the time spent in games thinking, calculating, and sharing with friends. And you’ll be richer and wiser as you write the best you can today, then learn more and write the best you can again tomorrow.

In writing as in playing (other) games, you might even relish the refinement and development of your skills. In writing, as in playing games, you have nothing to prove.

Bottom line, you will become more for the playing, whether in games or in writing, not less. And so, the more you write (the more you play-, the more fun you have, the more you grow, and the better you get.

Just something to gnaw on for the day.

For more from this site, see http://www.tut.com.

* * *

Of course, you can often learn excellent tidbits that you can apply to your writing from sources that are not specifically about writing. For just one example, consider how often Dean refers us to The Voice. Just sayin’.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3:30 despite a late night (for me). Went to pick up my grandson from his job at 8, only he didn’t get off until a little after 9. Oops.

I did a lot of little admin things this morning, including cross posting the note about Ted White to several places on Facebook, then eventually moved out to the Hovel around 7:30.

I did a lot of cycling for the second day in a row. (I nearly always begin by cycling back, but today, like yesterday, I did a lot of that.)

Also wrote a new scene, in between and around the times my attention was diverted by what sounded like a UPS truck. (grin)

I got some good writing done today. The novel is still moving along well, especially as distracted as I am.

Around 12:30 the UPS guy delivered my guitar, and it’s a thing of beauty. I’m going to set the novel aside for the rest of the day, post this Journal and give the new axe the attention it deserves. (grin)

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

First, from yesterday, Dean points to “The Rules of Being a Professional Writer” in The Strand Magazine at Writing Advice and Fun List at https://strandmag.com/the-rules-of-being-a-professional-writer/.

Then I recommend reading Dean’s “Looking at the Writing Advice” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/looking-at-the-writing-advice/. He posts the article above, but continue reading below that.

I also recommend you browse the topics at Strand on Writing Tips: https://strandmag.com/category/writing-tips/. As always, read with a grain of salt, take what you need (what works for you) and leave the rest.

Finally, one of the great editors of SF and fantasy needs help saving his house. Please help if you can. See the link at “Some Help If You Can for Ted White” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/some-help-if-you-can-for-ted-white/ or click this link: https://www.gofundme.com/44r62-save-my-house.

Fiction Words: 2728
Nonfiction Words: 720 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3448

Writing of Will Perkins (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4219 words. Total words to date…… 4219
Day 2…… 4003 words. Total words to date…… 8222
Day 3…… 3383 words. Total words to date…… 11605
Day 4…… 3124 words. Total words to date…… 14729
Day 5…… 3373 words. Total words to date…… 18102
Day 6…… 2294 words. Total words to date…… 20396
Day 7…… 3102 words. Total words to date…… 23498
Day 8…… 2578 words. Total words to date…… 26076
Day 9…… 2111 words. Total words to date…… 28187
Day 10… 2561 words. Total words to date…… 30748
Day 11… 4073 words. Total words to date…… 34821
Day 12… 1721 words. Total words to date…… 35648
Day 13… 3289 words. Total words to date…… 38937
Day 14… 2311 words. Total words to date…… 41248
Day 15… 2262 words. Total words to date…… 43510
Day 16… 2046 words. Total words to date…… 45556
Day 17… 4189 words. Total words to date…… 49745
Day 18… 4758 words. Total words to date…… 54503
Day 19… 2648 words. Total words to date…… 57178
Day 20… 2231 words. Total words to date…… 59409
Day 21… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 61419
Day 22… 4147 words. Total words to date…… 65566
Day 23… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 67576
Day 24… 1976 words. Total words to date…… 69552
Day 25… 2728 words. Total words to date…… 72280

Total fiction words for the month……… 55045
Total fiction words for the year………… 147655
Total nonfiction words for the month… 14440
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 34130

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 181785

The Journal, Thursday, 2/23

Hey Folks,

A few folks mentioned the picture of my guitar came out huge in the email they received and interrupted the post.

That’s just how some email programs deliver photos (instead of running the text along the side).

When that happens in the future, you can always see the “real” post at http://harveystanbrough.com/.

I’m taking a non-writing day today.

Topic: A Lesson Learned

I guess this is kind of a topic.

I spent a lot of time this morning (unnecessarily, as it turns out) going back through the whole novel. I wasn’t cycling.

I thought I was cycling, and it started as cycling.

But I was also applying some skills I just learned. Remember, learning is a conscious-mind endeavor.

Anyway, I wanted to apply those skills to this WIP since it isn’t finished yet. Kind of slip it in under the wire. (grin) I actually thought it was a good idea.

Uh, no.

I allowed that process to interrupt my writing process. Shouldn’t have done that. In the future, I’ll know.

As it was, I easily slipped into THINKING (conscious mind) about scene and chapter lengths and paragraphing and other conscious-mind things. Horrible waste of time.

But that process reacquainted me with the whole story too. So it wasn’t a total loss.

Anyway, I saved the monster with a different file name so I wouldn’t lose the changes just in case, then returned to the original file from yesterday.

I’m very near the end of the story. In fact, I might have typed past it a ways back. So I’m going to let things percolate for a day or two, give my subconscious a rest, and see what happens.

It’s early in the day as I write this (around 12:30) so I’ll probably spend a little more time with it today. I’ll go over my reverse outline, try to see what I missed or where the story ended or where one ended and a new one began.

Hey, just trying to be honest here and lay it out as it’s happening. Every book writes differently. And this one is writing a lot differently from any others I ever wrote. (grin)

Coincidentally, my new guitar is supposed to be here by the end of the day tomorrow. Woohoo! Of course, my fingers are so soft I won’t be able to play more than an hour or two per day so that won’t interfere too much with the writing.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out right at 3. Up at the house for awhile, and finally to the Hovel and the novel at 7:30.

I did a lot of what I wrote about above until about 11, then headed up to the house for lunch. Then I came back to the Hovel and wrote the stuff above.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See Dean’s Time to Rest… Blast from the Past at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/time-to-rest-blast-from-the-past/. Pretty cool.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 490 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 490

Writing of Will Perkins (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4219 words. Total words to date…… 4219
Day 2…… 4003 words. Total words to date…… 8222
Day 3…… 3383 words. Total words to date…… 11605
Day 4…… 3124 words. Total words to date…… 14729
Day 5…… 3373 words. Total words to date…… 18102
Day 6…… 2294 words. Total words to date…… 20396
Day 7…… 3102 words. Total words to date…… 23498
Day 8…… 2578 words. Total words to date…… 26076
Day 9…… 2111 words. Total words to date…… 28187
Day 10… 2561 words. Total words to date…… 30748
Day 11… 4073 words. Total words to date…… 34821
Day 12… 1721 words. Total words to date…… 35648
Day 13… 3289 words. Total words to date…… 38937
Day 14… 2311 words. Total words to date…… 41248
Day 15… 2262 words. Total words to date…… 43510
Day 16… 2046 words. Total words to date…… 45556
Day 17… 4189 words. Total words to date…… 49745
Day 18… 4758 words. Total words to date…… 54503
Day 19… 2648 words. Total words to date…… 57178
Day 20… 2231 words. Total words to date…… 59409
Day 21… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 61419
Day 22… 4147 words. Total words to date…… 65566
Day 23… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 67576
Day 24… 1976 words. Total words to date…… 69552
Day 25… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 52317
Total fiction words for the year………… 144927
Total nonfiction words for the month… 13720
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 33410

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 178337

The Journal, Wednesday, 2/22

Hey Folks,

No topic today, so just my blathering.

Oh, I think I mentioned I bought a new guitar a couple days ago to add to my small collection. (I also have a Martin HD-28 and a custom made, arch-top f-hole tenor Britton guitar, made by my maternal uncle, Roy Britton.)

Anyway, if I didn’t mention buying a new one, well, I did. It’s a hollow-body electric Peavey JF-1, a Jack Daniels custom job. If it plays and sounds as good as it looks, I’m in trouble. (grin)

Oh here. That’s a picture of it on the left. (No, the chair didn’t come with it.) It should be here around the end of the month. It will enable me to reawaken my other passion.

Well, another slow start to the day. And I think my sleep time is beginning to adjust again, back in the direction of more daylight. My grandson sometimes works some evenings, and I pick him up.

Another part of this adjustment is that I’ve been wanting to start walking again, but I think I’ve been waiting for warmer early-morning temps. I can roll out at 4, drive to a good walking place (no dogs, little traffic) and be walking by 4:30.

And I’d rather walk at the beginning of the day than interrupt my writing or whatever else to change clothes and walk, then shower and change clothes again. That’s a lot of wasted time.

When I walk now, it’s something short, maybe a mile or two, so I don’t get all sweaty. Plus a mile is only about 20 minutes, so it’s nothing more than a normal break from the story.

I’ve always (well, since I was about ten) been intimately aware of Time. I have a hyper-developed sense of urgency. Then again, that’s also part of why I’m fairly prolific as a writer.

For example, when I leave a room for whatever reason, I look around and see whether there’s something i can take with me to avoid another trip (wasted time) later.

If I walk soon after I get up, I avoid wasting the time it takes to change clothes more than once and to get back into the flow of whatever I was doing before I walked. (grin)

But warmer mornings will begin out here probably in mid-March or so. I can only barely wait.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at quarter to 4 and began easing into the day. Just one of those days when rushing is not in order.

Drove to the store about 7:30. Back, in the Hovel and to the novel at 9:30. I’m hoping this will end today.

Well, the novel didn’t end today, though it might’ve had I had the whole day to stare at it. (grin) Not really a good day at all.

I wrote two new scenes and did a lot of cycling, adding this here and that there. The grandson was supposed to go in at 5 tonight, but they called him in early.

While I was in town, I also took care of some shopping, etc. and now the laundry is waiting. So I’m writing off the rest of today at 3 p.m.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

At Dean’s Fantastic New Bundle… Escapist. See http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/fantastic-new-bundle-escapist/.

Fiction Words: 1976
Nonfiction Words: 550 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2526

Writing of Will Perkins (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4219 words. Total words to date…… 4219
Day 2…… 4003 words. Total words to date…… 8222
Day 3…… 3383 words. Total words to date…… 11605
Day 4…… 3124 words. Total words to date…… 14729
Day 5…… 3373 words. Total words to date…… 18102
Day 6…… 2294 words. Total words to date…… 20396
Day 7…… 3102 words. Total words to date…… 23498
Day 8…… 2578 words. Total words to date…… 26076
Day 9…… 2111 words. Total words to date…… 28187
Day 10… 2561 words. Total words to date…… 30748
Day 11… 4073 words. Total words to date…… 34821
Day 12… 1721 words. Total words to date…… 35648
Day 13… 3289 words. Total words to date…… 38937
Day 14… 2311 words. Total words to date…… 41248
Day 15… 2262 words. Total words to date…… 43510
Day 16… 2046 words. Total words to date…… 45556
Day 17… 4189 words. Total words to date…… 49745
Day 18… 4758 words. Total words to date…… 54503
Day 19… 2648 words. Total words to date…… 57178
Day 20… 2231 words. Total words to date…… 59409
Day 21… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 61419
Day 22… 4147 words. Total words to date…… 65566
Day 23… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 67576
Day 24… 1976 words. Total words to date…… 69552

Total fiction words for the month……… 52317
Total fiction words for the year………… 144927
Total nonfiction words for the month… 13230
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 32920

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 177847

The Journal, Tuesday, 2/21

Hey Folks,

All the recent talk about people being “offended” and “sensitivity readers” is just annoying. But they aren’t really connected. This is two different mini-topics: perception and censorship.

Perception

People have every right to perceive anything they see or hear in any way they want. And they have a right to be “offended” if that’s how they want to spend their time. Shrug. Fine by me.

However, whether they are offended is a direct function of their own perception. Being offended is a choice. In other words, whether they’re offended and whether they choose to belabor the point (as I am doing here) is completely up to them.

So they can be offended if that’s what they choose to do, but they have ZERO right to force anyone else to care that they’re “offended.”

And I don’t care. And I’m not sorry that I don’t care. I simply have better ways to spend my time.
In fact, I’m about as concerned about what might offend someone else as they are about what might offend me. Like, for instance, people whose hobby is being offended.

If people say something about me personally, I don’t get offended. If what they say is true (only I know, after all) I either change or I don’t. If it isn’t true, I consider the source and move on.

Censorship

Censorship is not all right in a land where the constitution guarantees free speech. Period.

Writers, maybe above all others, should know and practice that.

One comment on Dean’s post from yesterday struck me. A first reader for a writer’s book about the civil war was “offended” (there’s that word again) that the soldiers used firearms. Seriously.

I actually laughed out loud.

Topic: White Space

A friend recently sent me an article from Word Count: Writers Talk About Writing (https://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/wc/). The title of the article, by Micheal Lydon, is “Making the White Space Talk.”

(Note: You have to subscribe to Visual Thesaurus to read the full original article. Based on some of the titles and bits there, I do not personally recommend it.)

In the article, which my friend copied and pasted into an email, the author talks about what he calls “white space.”

As I proceeded through the article, I realized what he’s calling white space is actually paragraphing.

More specifically, he’s talking about endings (and by extension, beginnings) of chapters.

Mr. Lydon notes that

“White space at the end of a chapter pauses the book’s narrative flow, allowing readers a brief rest. At the same time the white space points readers to the next chapter in such a way that, once rested, they’ll gladly take up their journey once again.”

Truedat.

But as I pointed out to my friend, it’s not only true for chapters.

The “rest” the author talks about is important at the end of every sentence. It’s why we have end punctuation (.?!:).

But more to the point, the “ending” (final sentence or two) is vastly important both to give the reader pause and to propel him to the next microscene, scene, chapter and book.

In every case, the ending of that microscene, scene, chapter or book “sells” the reader on what coming next. It makes him turn the page or buy the next book. It causes him to want to keep reading your work.

Likewise, the beginning of the next microscene, scene, chapter or book sells the reader on that microscene, scene, chapter or book.

Those endings most often are called “cliffhangers.” When written right, they’re always tension filled, though that tension takes on different forms depending on the genre.

One other related note: Hitting the Return (Enter) key also has a great deal to do with pacing. It’s difficult to maintain a reader in a breathless state if your paragraphs are hundreds of words long.

As a general rule of thumb, longer paragraphs slow readers down. Shorter paragraphs speed them up and propel them through what they’re reading.

Whether and how much paragraph length affects pacing are also factors of how one paragraph ends and the next begins too.

Readers aren’t garbage chutes. They’re human beings. As such, they’re more amenable to swallowing and digesting smaller bites than massive chunks. Just sayin’.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out just before 4 again. If memory serves, each time I’ve done that recently, I’ve had a good writing day. I’ll be interested to see what happens in that regard today.

Currently (6 a.m.) I’m sitting outside with my coffee and my laptop, writing this stuff and finishing a good cigar.

To the Hovel about 8, and cycling on the novel around 8:15. Added a couple hundred new words, then to the house for some water.

Well, a lighter day today than I expected. And the novel didn’t end today.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

A lot of comments on Dean’s post from yesterday at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/another-scam-firing-up/#comments. One guy turned the whole argument around. My thought? Male bovine excrement. Censorship is censorship.

His post today is nostalgic. See http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-years-go-by/.

Fiction Words: 2010
Nonfiction Words: 830 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2840

Writing of Will Perkins (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4219 words. Total words to date…… 4219
Day 2…… 4003 words. Total words to date…… 8222
Day 3…… 3383 words. Total words to date…… 11605
Day 4…… 3124 words. Total words to date…… 14729
Day 5…… 3373 words. Total words to date…… 18102
Day 6…… 2294 words. Total words to date…… 20396
Day 7…… 3102 words. Total words to date…… 23498
Day 8…… 2578 words. Total words to date…… 26076
Day 9…… 2111 words. Total words to date…… 28187
Day 10… 2561 words. Total words to date…… 30748
Day 11… 4073 words. Total words to date…… 34821
Day 12… 1721 words. Total words to date…… 35648
Day 13… 3289 words. Total words to date…… 38937
Day 14… 2311 words. Total words to date…… 41248
Day 15… 2262 words. Total words to date…… 43510
Day 16… 2046 words. Total words to date…… 45556
Day 17… 4189 words. Total words to date…… 49745
Day 18… 4758 words. Total words to date…… 54503
Day 19… 2648 words. Total words to date…… 57178
Day 20… 2231 words. Total words to date…… 59409
Day 21… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 61419
Day 22… 4147 words. Total words to date…… 65566
Day 23… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 67576

Total fiction words for the month……… 50341
Total fiction words for the year………… 142951
Total nonfiction words for the month… 12680
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 32370

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 175321

Pricing and Various Sales Venues

Hi Folks,

A little rant this time, but a well-reasoned rant.

It really is attrocious what Amazon does to authors regarding royalties. This problem came fully home to me awhile back when I uploaded the new version of The Wes Crowley Saga (10 full novels in one book) to Amazon and Smashwords.

At Amazon, to get a 70% royalty, a book must be priced between $2.99 and $9.99. All other prices glean the author a 35% royalty.

The Wes Crowley Saga is priced at $19.99. (Ten novels for $20 ain’t that bad, ya’ll.)

From Amazon, for each $19.99 sale, I get $6.99. Amazon keeps $13.

From Smashwords, for each $19.99 sale, I get $16.24. Almost $10 more. Can you believe that? Smashwords keeps $2.87 and charges a “billing fee” of 88 cents. Of course, that’s for sales directly from Smashwords.

But from Premium Catalog Retailers (B&N, Kobo, and about 30 others), for each $19.99 sale I still make $11.99. The retailers get $6 and Smashwords gets $2.

And what empowers Amazon to do this? Authors who publish through KDP Select, the exclusive program Amazon set up.

When you publish through KDP Select, not only do you cut off those readers who prefer to purchase from other retailers and read .epub files, but you aren’t even allowed to publish and sell YOUR book on your own website. Did you know that?

Oh, and just in case you wondered, yes, I could lower the price for The Wes Crowley Saga (remember, this is ten complete novels) on Amazon to $9.99 in order to take advantage of the 75% royalty rate. And I’d actually make a few tenths of a cent LESS per sale ($6.993) than I make at the 35% rate for $19.99 ($6.9965).

This is the same reason you can purchase my short stories (from 2000 to 7000 words) at Smashwords and all other e-retailers (around 50 of them worldwide) for only $1.99, but if you go to Amazon the same story will cost you $2.99.

Amazon is a business. I understand that. But their devaluing of authors and their works really chaps my butt. Please PLEASE never cave to Amazon’s KDP Select program. If you do, you’ll add one more straw to the problem.

I’m considering “unpublishing” The Wes Crowley Saga from Amazon altogether and doing a blitz advertisement sending Kindle owners to Smashwords to purchase the .mobi (Kindle) file there. The only reason I haven’t done so thus far is because I don’t want to cut Amazon buyers out either.

Maybe I should write a nonfiction book titled Why I No Longer Distribute and Sell Through Amazon and then offer it for sale ONLY on Amazon. (grin) I wonder whether they would even allow it.

Conundrums, conundrums….

‘Til next time, happy writing and publishing!

Harvey

I am a professional fiction writer. If you’d like to get writing tips several times each week, pop over to my Daily Journal and sign up. In the alternative, you can also click the Pro Writer’s Journal tab on the main website at HarveyStanbrough.com.