The Journal, Monday, 6/12

Hey Folks,

Kind of a neat post over at Dean’s place today, about domain-name hoarding. I can relate.

I have domain names for all of my personas, some of my pseudonyms and some of my characters, like Wes Crowley. I have domain names for my own name, and also some for business names that I don’t want to risk losing. Go figure.

Just yesterday, as an afterthought, I looked up WritingInPublic.com.

Of course, it was already taken. It won’t make money for me anyway, so I didn’t bother finding out who owns it so I could make an offer to buy it.

But I suspect it’s Dean. (grin)

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 4 again. Started working on the new Writing in Public website and did that for the first 3+ hours.

Moved out to the Hovel around 8:30 and started on the novel. Some cycling back and a lot of new words. Around 10, up to the house for some iced tea.

Not a bad day of writing, but not great. Still, I’ll take it.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

“Amazon Releases Word Doc Templates…” at https://the-digital-reader.com/2017/06/09/amazon-releases-word-doc-templates-making-better-pod-books/.

“Amazon Overhauls its Publishing Portal…” at https://the-digital-reader.com/2017/06/09/amazon-overhauls-publishing-portal-new-dashboard/.

Both of those are at The Digital Reader. If you don’t already subscribe, consider it at https://the-digital-reader.com/.

Dean’s “Domain Collecting” is interesting at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/domain-collecting/.

And just in case you’re interested, “Bob Dylan Rescues Literature From The Literary Set” at http://thefederalist.com/2017/06/12/bob-dylan-rescues-literature-literary-set/.

Fiction Words: 2825
Nonfiction Words: 240 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3065

Writing of June Novel

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… 0505 words. Total words to date…… 5430
Day 3…… 1204 words. Total words to date…… 6634
Day 4…… 1535 words. Total words to date…… 8169
Day 5…… 2825 words. Total words to date…… 10994

Total fiction words for the month……… 37466
Total fiction words for the year………… 330373
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8420
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 98400
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 428773

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 564 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 5 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 176

The Journal, Sunday, 6/11

Hey Folks,

Wow. Already had a few writers sign up for the upcoming Writing in Public Challenge. I was pleasantly surprised. Excellent.

Once I get the site put together, I’ll send out an email with log-in specifics, etc. If you’re interested, I recommend emailing me fairly soon.

There’s still room if anyone else wants to jump in. Remember, how you structure your own challenge will be completely up to you. The only requirement is that you post things so readers can read.

I also had an email asking whether it’s all right to share the invitation with a writers’ group or critique group.

Sorry, but no. Everyone’s welcome to follow along. It’s “writing in public,” after all. But please don’t share the invitation to participate.

However, if you want to share the invitation with a friend who’s also avid regarding the craft (so a pro or wants to be a pro), that’s fine.

For example, DWS doesn’t subscribe to this Journal. But if he emailed me and wanted to post his own challenge from my site, of course I’d sign him up.

Anyone can set a goal and embark on a challenge of this kind at any time on their own, and I encourage them to do so. But I have to limit participation on the website.

A Thought on Writers’ Groups

First, a disclaimer: Whatever works for you is fine. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

My personal take on writers’ groups (critique groups, etc.) is this:

I would kill, maybe literally, to meet regularly with a group of other professional writers and aspirants.

In that sort of “group,” the attendees would strive to contribute new information on what works and doesn’t work for them in the business and-or craft of writing.

Those are extremely rare because most pro writers and serious aspirants would rather stay home and write. That’s why I follow sites like those of DWS and Kris Rusch and J Conrath and Kevin Tumlinson and Robert J. McCarter and others.

Then there’s the TYPICAL writers’ group, of which there are hundreds.

In those, would-be writers gather, maybe share a meal, and listen to a speaker present a program during which he or she spouts the same tired old clichés regarding writing.

Uhh, No.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out late at just before 4. That was annoying, because I was wide awake at 2:30, but opted to sleep-in. Time is so precious, and I just tossed half a handful of it overboard.

I wrote all the stuff above and listened to the podcast mentioned in “Of Interest” below. I hope to write sometime today, but it’s Sunday. Maybe a lazy Sunday.

Moved out to the Hovel at around 10. I started working on the novel again, and noticed there was another short story in it.

I copied and pasted the excerpt to a new file, wrote a new opening (398 words) and now I have a new stand-alone short story. I love when that happens.

During the interim, my son left, headed north again, and before that he lost a screw out of his glasses. I had some extras, so I fixed them for him.

Around 1 or so I moved back to the house to write a little more on the novel. But it’s definitely a lazy Sunday.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See Dean’s “A Couple of Fun Things” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/a-couple-of-fun-things/. If you don’t, you’ll miss a couple of important links. (grin)

Check Kevin Tumlinson’s site at http://kevintumlinson.com/. Check his Blog. Check his Podcasts. A lot of good stuff on his site. The segment with Dean begins at about 10 minutes into the WordsLinger podcast.

Fiction Words: 1933
Nonfiction Words: 600 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2533

Writing of “The Fight” (short story, derived from the novel)

Day 1…… 0398 words. Total words to date…… 2701 (done)

Writing of June Novel

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… 0505 words. Total words to date…… 5430
Day 3…… 1204 words. Total words to date…… 6634
Day 4…… 1535 words. Total words to date…… 8169

Total fiction words for the month……… 34641
Total fiction words for the year………… 327548
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8180
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 98160
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 425708

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 563 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 5 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 176

The Journal, Saturday, 6/10

Hey Folks,

Yesterday I outlined how “writing in public” positively affected my writing. This morning, I had an exciting idea.

You already know I’m preparing a website for my next Writing in Public challenge. It should be good to go before July rolls in.

Those who are interested in reading stories or novels as they develop will subscribe. Then each post will be emailed to them as it’s posted.

I’ve decided to open that challenge to a few other writers. Here’s the nutshell:

  • Basically, you can write whatever you like and post as often as you like.
  • You’ll have your own log-in information and complete control over your part of the site.
  • The parameters of your challenge are completely up to you.
  • The one requirement is that you write “in public.” (Duh. Otherwise it would defeat the purpose of the site.)

If any of you would like to participate, email me to let me know and we’ll work out the details: harveystanbrough@gmail.com.

***

I mentioned yesterday that Bryan’s back in wait and see mode with Job Corps. We hope to hear something on Monday.

Topic: Story Starters (and some ways to come up with them)

(Note: This is excerpted from a post I wrote yesterday as an article for a regional writers’ group publication and for the Pro Writers blog. But it won’t post over there until early 2018. I didn’t include this topic in today’s nonfiction word count.)

There are two ways to start a story: with a story starter or with a story idea. Those are not quite the same thing, though they can be.

What I call a “story starter” is a seed, period.

It might be a line of dialogue or narrative that pops into your head. It might be you asking yourself “What if?”

It might be a philosophical thought or a photograph or event and the feeling or thought it evokes.

It might also be a story IDEA, the skeleton for the opening of your story.

The story idea is simpler to define. It’s a character with a problem in a setting. (The problem doesn’t have to be “the” conflict problem of the story.)

The story idea, if it occurs to you whole, can also be a story starter.

But the sole purpose of both the story starter and the story idea is to get you to the keyboard.

Or put in a slightly different way, the sole purpose of both the story starter and the story idea is to cause you to sit down, right now, put your fingers on the keyboard, and start typing.

So how do you come up with story starters?

The typical professional fiction writer would say, “How do you not?” But here are some specific ways that have worked for me.

First, prepare.

Open a new blank document or flip open your notebook and pull out a pen. I use Notepad. Don’t worry about formatting. It isn’t important right now.

Keep that document open on part of your computer screen (or on your lap). Then, in any order,

Browse Photos

Begin looking at photos one at a time.

These can be photos you took, photos you acquired from a stock agency, public domain photos or even photos you see in magazines, on Facebook or wherever.

If you choose a “found” photo — one other than your own or other than those you acquired from a stock agency — you can’t use it for a cover. But you can use it for whatever thought it evokes in your mind. The thought, not the photo, will become part of the actual publication.

Look at the photo and write down the first line that springs to mind. It might be narrative or dialogue. It might be a philosophical thought. That’s a story starter.

If nothing comes to mind, don’t dwell. Set it aside and move on to the next one.

Events

Whether recalling a memory or witnessing a live event, write down the first line that springs to mind. That’s a story starter.

Other Stories and Articles

Read. If you’re a writer, chances are you read.
Often a line from another story or novel will grab me. And often that becomes the basis for my own story or novel. (No, this isn’t plagiarism.)

Sometimes too, comments in a nonfiction article or a description in a travel article will move something in me. And become the basis for a story or novel.

You get the idea. Just read. And keep your pen and paper handy.

Titles

Sometimes a title will pop into my head. I have zero idea what the story will be, but I know what it will be about. Maybe even the general direction it will take.

DWS has a voluminous collection of old stories and novels. From those he makes lists of “half-titles.” He writes the first half of a title on one list and the last half on another.

When he’s stuck for a story starter, he’ll browse the list of half-titles, crash two of them together to form a new title, and start writing.

Most of us don’t own a large collection. But you can still go to your local bookstore (or Amazon) and browse titles, right?

You can even lift whole titles if you want (I don’t recommend this), as long as they aren’t trademarked. Titles can’t be copyrighted individually.

That’s just a few ways to come up with story starters. Once you get in the habit of exercising your idea muscle, you’ll come up with many more on your own.

In short, if you want to write, you can write.

1. Get an idea.
2. Sit down with your fingers on the keyboard.
3. Write whatever comes. Don’t edit. Don’t “fix.” Don’t think. Just write.
4. DON’T intentionally write sloppy copy. That’s bad training.

It really is that easy and that difficult. If you haven’t tried this yet, you’ll be amazed at how much fun you’ll have.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out just before 2 a.m. My son drove down from Flagstaff. He got here just before I got up, and went to bed soon after.

I wrote on the novel for a little while, then got caught up in the day and visiting.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Dean has a pretty informative post over at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/writing-a-novel-in-five-days-while-traveling-turned-in/, especially if you missed his posts on the topic. (He links to them and the resulting novel.)

I posted a few pics of a big range fire (the Dragoon Fire) near here on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/harvey.stanbrough.

Fiction Words: 1204
Nonfiction Words: 310 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1514

Writing of June Novel

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… 0505 words. Total words to date…… 5430
Day 3…… 1204 words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 32708
Total fiction words for the year………… 325615
Total nonfiction words for the month… 7580
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 97560
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 423175

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 562 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 5 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 175

The Journal, Friday, 6/9

Hey Folks,

One astute reader noticed I wrote that the files I was waiting for were mailed on June 30. So, um, that would be almost a year ago.

They were mailed on May 30. In this situation, it still feels like a year ago. I corrected it. (Thanks, JGV)

Topic: End of the Challenge

Unfortunately, yesterday was the last day of the challenge.

Another friend (Thanks, RS) mentioned privately I could write a couple of flash fiction stories (up to 99 words) or short shorts (up to to 1999 words) to keep the challenge going.

I don’t want to use flash fiction. That would feel like cheating to me. I understand that most readers probably wouldn’t mind, but I’d mind. For me, using flash fiction breaks the spirit of the challenge.

And as for writing short shorts, that would be fine. But once I start writing, I can’t predetermine a story length. The characters take it to where they want it to go. It simply is what it is.

Spoiler alert: You’ll see a much longer version of this topic over on Pro Writers on Tuesday, June 20.

I’ll be back with another similar challenge before too long.

I found this challenge extremely beneficial to my work. Even abbreviated, this challenge

● dramatically increased my production. I now have 8 new short stories I wouldn’t have had without the challenge. Also, I’ve averaged just under 4,000 words of new fiction per day.

● increased my proficiency. Because I was posting the stories “live” scene by scene, I felt a sense of urgency to write them cleanly and get them out there.

● actually decreased the harmful influence of my critical mind. Again, because I was posting the scenes “live,” I cycled back through them one time to add any obvious omissions. Then I spell-checked them, and then I published them. The sense of urgency kept me from getting mired in the process. (No rewriting, remember?)

● enabled me to learn and practice new techniques more quickly and more cleanly, again because of the sense of urgency that was attached to it.

● handed me 2 new novel starts. That’s right. Out of only 8 new stories, 2 of them will be developed and expanded into novels.

I’ll use the rest of this month to gather story ideas (story starters), finish my novel and maybe write a second one, and create covers for and publish the stories I wrote this month.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out a little before 4. Did little the first few hours but write the stuff above and another blog post.

I probably won’t even write on the novel today, though I might, later.

Right now I’m switching Internet browsers from Firefox (been with them for years) to Microsoft Edge. Firefox updates every few days and it still crashes regularly. Enough is too much.

So logging into sites I use often, saving passwords on the new browser, all that.

I’m also putting together the dedicated website I’ll use when I start the next writing in public challenge. Slowly. But still fun.

Well, I called Job Corps. Despite their saying earlier that today was the deadline, we’re still up in the air. The lady said they’re re-reviewing his package, so I guess that’s good. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I had already called off the challenge. It’s already after 2 p.m. With all that’s happened today I’m just gonna make this a nonwriting day for fiction.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Just this morning in The Digital Reader I learned of a place called Reedsy. Among many other things, Reedsy offers free courses on various aspects of writing, publishing, marketing etc. Check them out at https://blog.reedsy.com/learning. As always, take what you learn there with a grain of salt.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 580 (Journal) 1130 (blog)
So total words for the day: 1710

Writing of June Novel

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… 0505 words. Total words to date…… 5430
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 31504
Total fiction words for the year………… 324411
Total nonfiction words for the month… 7270
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 97250
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 421661

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 561 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 5 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 175

The Journal, Thursday, 6/8

Hey Folks,

First, before I forget, awhile back the editor of a magazine in Mexico asked me to write a short story for her magazine.

I did and submitted it.

She loved it and asked permission to translate it. Of course, I said yes.

If you’re interested, here’s the link to the story in Spanish in the magazine EstePaís:

http://www.estepais.com/articulo.php?id=1057&t=ila-y-el-pinonero

I’d be happy to send a copy of the English original to anyone who wants it. Now, too, I can finally self-publish it. (grin)

A little personal stuff…

Well, my life roll is coming down to the end.

It will be a tense couple of days as we await some records from Indiana (supposedly mailed last week on Tuesday) and Roswell NM. Those will determine, in large part, my grandson’s future.

As an action-oriented kind of guy, I feel a little helpless when things are completely outside of my control. Especially when bureacrats are involved.

When I think of what set this excellent 22 year old boy on this path, and especially when I consider what kept him on this path — being prescribed drugs he didn’t need and those drugs creating the symptoms they were supposed to alleviate — I just wanna chew wheels and spit nails. In particular directions.

But as with all things in life, it simply is what it is and we’ll deal with it.

In the meantime, for now, we wait and hope Job Corps will happen for him.

Now to the escape of writing for awhile.

Topic: Day 8 of the Challenge

Overall, this challenge hasn’t been difficult at all. It hasn’t been easy — a challenge shouldn’t be easy — but it hasn’t been difficult either.

In fact, whether or not the life roll intervenes and ends the challenge prematurely, I will do this again, complete with the writing-in-public part.

The challenge thus far has been a matter of

1. Coming up with a story starter (for me that’s usually a line of descriptive or philosophical narrative or a line of dialogue);
2. dropping a character with a problem related to that line into a setting;
3. and writing. Oh, and every now and then,
4. telling my critical voice to sit down and shut up.

That fourth one is a matter of patience and persistence.

If a story beginning (opening) is boring me to death, I trash it and either move on to the next story starter (I’ve done that twice) or I start over.

More often, my critical voice tells me (on an opening that isn’t boring me) “this is not good” etc.

To overcome that, in every case, I remind myself that I won’t personally like every story I write. But that has no bearing on whether another reader will or won’t like it.

So I persist, follow it through to the end, and publish it.

And invariably, some reader pops up out of nowhere and tells me how wonderful is the story that I thought sucked canal water from all 50 states. (grin)

That’s some great validation and reinforcement for shutting out the critical voice. Just sayin’.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out just before 4. Spent the first hour-plus fully awake, sipping coffee and reading some great stuff, most of which I shared below in “Of Interest.”

Around 7 I sat down at my office desk and began writing.

Around 8:30 I moved to the Hovel.

With a couple of breaks, by 11 I had 2800 words on the story. No end in sight. (grin)

I wrote some more, then went to the PO to check for some records that were allegedly mailed from Indianapolis on May 30. Unfortunately, they still haven’t arrived.

Long talk with my wife and then my grandson. Around 2, finally back to the short story.

With everything going on, I forgot to post the new scenes after scene 2. I finished the story around 3.

Nothing on the novel again today.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Some very good comments at Dean’s http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/a-bunch-of-things/#comments.

Also see Robert J McCarter’s posts on his challenge at http://robertjmccarter.com/2017/05/sswm-introduction/.

I’ve also added Mr. McCarter’s category “Short Story Marathon” to Writers’ Resources on my site, or you can see it at http://robertjmccarter.com/category/story-marathon/.

See “10 Tools That Help Me Sell More Ebooks” at https://www.kseniaanske.com/blog/2017/6/4/10-tools-that-help-me-sell-more-books/.

Fiction Words: 4507
Nonfiction Words: 720 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 5227

Writing of “Adele and the Makers” (Story 8 for June)

Day 1…… 4507 words. Total words to date…… 4507 (done)

Writing of June Novel

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… 0505 words. Total words to date…… 5430
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 31504
Total fiction words for the year………… 324411
Total nonfiction words for the month… 5560
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 95540
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 419951

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 560 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 5 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 175

The Journal, Wednesday, 6/7

Hey Folks,

Not a lot to report today.

Topic: Day 7 of the Challenge

Well, the challenge is rolling along. I feel like I’m settling into this thing.

By that I mean I’m not frantic, “worrying” about coming up with story ideas, etc.

The conscious, critical mind repeatedly attacks in various ways. But once I recognize it for what it is and set it aside, I’m able to get back to writing.

Today’s story went really well and really quickly. In a little over 2 hours of writing time, I hit the end at something over 2700 words.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3 and spent the first few hours doing nothing but Facebook and email stuff. Put on a load of laundry (the first of two) and headed to the Hovel around 6:30.

Finally around 7:20 I started the story for the day. It’s a gangster thing from the gangster’s POV. Interesting.

With a couple of breaks to check and fold and put away laundry, I finished the story at around 11:30 and posted the whole thing (two very long scenes) to The June Challenge page on my website.

Off for a bit to change gears, and I hope to add some to the novel today.

Nothing on the novel again today. Job Corps and other stuff on my mind.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

You might get something out of “When I Worked in Advertising” at http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/06/when-i-worked-in-advertising/. I stopped reading at “In one of the 16 or so drafts of my new book,…”

Fiction Words: 2738
Nonfiction Words: 260 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2998

Writing of “What Happened That Day” (Story 7 for June)

Day 1…… 2738 words. Total words to date…… 2738 (done)

Writing of June Novel

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… 0505 words. Total words to date…… 5430
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 26997
Total fiction words for the year………… 319904
Total nonfiction words for the month… 4840
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 94820
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 414724

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 559 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 5 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 174

The Journal, Tuesday, 6/6

Hey Folks,

Well, just last night I was saying I might as well stay up later and get up at a more normal time. The staying up later part isn’t that difficult, but the other is much easier said than done.

That’s all right.

Easing into the day today. As I write this it’s almost 9 and I’ve done nothing relative to writing.

I did go to the grocery early. I like to get there when nobody’s parking their cart sideways in the aisle or backing up in front of me without looking or otherwise pretending there’s nobody on Earth but him or her.

Kind of annoyed about my challenge. I didn’t think it through quite thoroughly enough.

You know that life roll I’ve mentioned here a few times? That will end sometime this coming weekend or early the next week, one way or another.

Bryan’s time with me is coming to a close. He’ll either go to Job Corps this week (they’re mulling over some things) or he’ll move to NM to visit his uncle.

If the former, no worries. I’ll drive him into Tucson and send him into his future. If the latter, I’ll probably have to drive to northwest NM. That will all but kill the challenge. For this time.

So we’ll just have to wait and see.

Topic: Day 6 of the Challenge

I didn’t brainstorm any new story ideas last night as I had planned. But I eased into today, so it’ll be all right.

I mentioned above that the challenge might end prematurely sometime between three days and a week from now. That’s out of my control, so I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

But I’m already thinking of the next one, especially if this one doesn’t work.

If I do this challenge again, the “writing in public” aspect will take center stage.

Probably I’ll open a new website (I own several). I’ll advertise the snot out of it, and then I’ll take subscriptions. Those who want to read the stories scene-by-scene as they progress will subscribe to them.

Probably it will still be free, with donations accepted. But this way the stories will go to a group of folks who are dedicated to seeing them. Or at least dedicated enough to subscribe.

I’ll write each story a scene at a time, and then I’ll post each scene, as it’s finished, to that “blog.” Each scene will be emailed automatically to those who subscribe, and then the whole story will be posted to the website on its own page.

Yep, I like it.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 2:30. Did pretty much nothing most of the early morning, then went to the grocery at around 5:30.

Home and put stuff away around an hour later, then a quick English-muffin and cheese breakfast.

Saw my wife off to work at 8:30, then came here to write some of the stuff above.

Finally to the Hovel around 9. I wrote the topic, and now I’m gonna cast about for a story starter.

Around 10 I hit on a story idea and started writing.

Around 11 I went up to the house for lunch, then took a phone call from a good friend.

A little after noon, back to the story.

1 p.m. to the post office and maybe (if necessary) to Benson.

Around 3:30 I finished the story. It flowed really well when I had time to work on it.

Nothing on the novel today. I need to get a handle on this stuff.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

A pretty good post on rebranding (with examples) with “A Fun Series” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/a-fun-series/.

And a friend reminded me to remind all of you, if you need EXCELLENT print or ebook formatting or covers at extremely reasonable prices, visit Cover to Upload at https://covertoupload.com/.

Fiction Words: 3258
Nonfiction Words: 650 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3908

Writing of “Incident in a Cantina” (Story 6 for June)

Day 1…… 3258 words. Total words to date…… 3258 (done)

Writing of June Novel

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… 0505 words. Total words to date…… 5430
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 24295
Total fiction words for the year………… 317166
Total nonfiction words for the month… 4580
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 94560
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 411726

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 558 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 5 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 173

The Journal, Monday, 6/5

Hey Folks,

Well, through my first weekend and the challenge is still on track. And 1/6th over after today. (grin) Harder than it looks. Then again, I know what it is to dig a ditch, so….

The more I think about it, the more I think I’m going to move this Daily Journal blog back over to another website.

My main website feels cluttered, and I haven’t had more than a couple of new signups for the Journal over the past few months since this blog has been over there.

If you’re subscribed via email, this won’t necessitate any change on your part. The posts will still be emailed to the same list of folks.

And more than likely it won’t necessitate any change on the part of those who are subscribed via RSS either. But I’ll be sure to post the new URL just in case.

Topic: Day 5 of the Challenge — Exercising the Idea Muscle

When I was speaking at a lot of writers’ conferences, attendees often complained of how difficult it is to come up with story ideas.

I knew what they meant. They meant it’s hard to come up with stories that are born whole, beginning, middle and end. Characters, setting, conflict, and resolution.

Yes, it is. But why would you want to do that anyway? More on that later.

So what is a story idea? Actually, it’s only one kind of a story “starter.”

A full story idea is a character with a problem in a setting. That’s it. The problem might or might not even be ‘the’ problem of the story. Doesn’t matter.

As I said, that’s one kind of story starter.

Other story starters mmight be just a line of dialogue or an action that pops into your head.

It might be an odd characteristic of a character’s face (a cauliflower ear, a nose bent sideways, startling eyes).

Or it might be the aforementioned character with a problem in a setting. But it won’t be a story born whole.

The sole purpose of a story starter (or story idea) is to get you to the keyboard.

As I write this, I’m beginning day 5 of a 30-day short-story-a-day challenge.

Yesterday, as part of my growth as a writer, I made a point of coming up with two new story ideas before I called it a day.

I plan to do that every day through the rest of this challenge. Why?

For one thing, coming up with story ideas at the end of a good day of writing is much easier than coming up with even one good story idea in the midst of waking up in the early morning.

It also alleviates the pressure of having to try to come up with something during that groggy hour or so.

For another, coming up with ideas (story starters) is not difficult, but it’s an acquired habit. To do it easily means to do it regularly.

So I’m practicing. I’m exercising the idea muscle.

And it works. I actually came up with three story ideas yesterday. But one of them was born whole.

A line popped into my head, followed closely by the POV protagonist, the antagonist, an extra character, the conflict, and the resolution. The whole story.

I tossed it out.

Why? For the same reason I don’t outline novels.

I write first to entertain myself, to see what the characters are going to do and say, and where the story’s going to go. It’s exciting.

If I already know the end, writing the story will bore me. And if it will bore me, chances are it will bore the reader.

As always, I’m learning as I go. Part of that is acquiring the habit of exercising the idea muscle.

This challenge is the perfect time to acquire a habit like that.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3:30. Messed around with waking-up stuff and wrote everything above this.

After that I scheduled “Exercising the Idea Muscle” for publication over on the big blog too. It will come out sometime early next year.

Around 7:15, I moved out to the Hovel.

Well, the story starts I came up with yesterday — neither of them worked. Still, I plan to make that my last act of the day, every day, coming up with a couple of story starts.

Usually when I write an opening it takes off. This morning I wrote two and both of them fizzled.

Onward.

Finished the story. Gonna spend the rest of the day to coming up with more story starts. (grin)

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “The Best Advice an Author Can Get” at http://thefutureofpublishing.com/2017/05/the-best-advice-an-author-can-get/.

While you’re there, consider subscribing to The Future of Publishing blog.

Fiction Words: 2843
Nonfiction Words: 790 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3633

Writing of “Untitled” (Story 5 for June)

Day 1…… 2843 words. Total words to date…… 2843 (done)

Writing of June Novel

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… 0505 words. Total words to date…… 5430
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 21001
Total fiction words for the year………… 313908
Total nonfiction words for the month… 3930
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 93910
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 407818

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 557 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 5 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 172

The Journal, Sunday, 6/4

Hey Folks,

Topic: Grounding the Reader

Mistakenly thinking I was asking for story ideas (a mistake I invoked by saying a few days ago I was “gathering ideas”), a friend sent me this:

“Ralph pulled hard on the paddles fighting the current to pass through the water funneling between boulders. A bullet plowed into the rock directly in front of him as the blast of a high-powered rifle reached him.”

When I explained I wasn’t really looking for people to send me ideas, he wrote back that he was going to write a story with it himself, but that he wondered where I’d go with it.

I told him I might use it toward the end of the challenge. I didn’t want my take to affect his.

But I probably won’t use it at all. At least not as-is, same POV, etc.

I take great pride in my ability to ground the reader in my stories. And I’m still learning and practicing how to do that.

In short, I would want the reader to feel he’s in the boat with the guy

And that’s the problem.

I’ve never been in a boat on a river. I’ve never used paddles, though I can imagine the feel of them in my hands.

I can imagine the muscles of the arms knotting well enough, maybe even one elbow twinging a bit from a reaggravated old injury, etc. I can imagine the feeling in the guy’s back and shoulders and shoulder blades.

I know the sound of a bullet ricocheting off a rock, and I know the sound of a bullet splatting on a rock and the sound of one hitting two solid surfaces one after the other.

I know the smell of a river (at least the one I “see” when I think of his lines). I know the sights around it. I know the tastes it evokes in my mind.

But I don’t know the motion of the pitching boat, the sound of the paddles in the water or the current going by. I don’t know the tug of the current on the paddles.

And all of those things (and more) are necessary in a good opening. But in many fewer, more terse words.

Will I get a story from his idea?

Yes. Yes I will. Maybe even today.

But it will be peripheral, a result of the thought process that resulted in this post as much as the result of the original idea.

Grounding the reader is just that important. And it does involve writing what you know.

Topic 2: Day 4 of the Challenge

Trying a new tack today. Instead of fretting and searching, etc. for a story idea, I’m just gonna relax.

Moved out to the hovel around 6:30.

Ha! It worked. By 9:30, and with two short breaks mixed in, I had written the story for today.

I posted the first scene to my site at around 8:15, then cut loose and just wrote. (In the Hovel, no Internet.) The story flowed, and I’m done.

Back to the house to update.

Also, mostly because what goes on Facebook is “out there” free forever, I’m not going to continue posting my challenge stories to Facebook.

I’ll continue posting them, once scene at a time (most of the time) to my June Challenge page on my website.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3.Then all the stuff above happened. (grin)

Had a nice lunch with my wife, then went back to the Hovel at around 1 to work on the novel a bit. A couple days ago, something didn’t feel right about it. So I used the excuse of the big story word counts to put it off.

Today I opened it and realized the main character’s voice had changed. So the novel had taken a wrong turn.

You know all the detective stuff I’ve been doing lately? He was becoming one of those. And that isn’t who he is. Hasn’t been from the beginning.

So I cycled back a bit, deleted a few sentences (where he and I made that wrong turn) and turned him loose again to be who he is.

The result is nothing short of amazing.

The influence of the conscious mind pops up in all kinds of strange ways.

I only got a few hundred words done on the novel today, but I’m tired so taking the rest of the day.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “43 Words Invented by Authors” (video) at http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/06/43-words-invented-by-authors-2/.

Fiction Words: 3047
Nonfiction Words: 740 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3787

Writing of “The Pity of Bill Trevor” (Story 4 for June)

Day 1…… 2542 words. Total words to date…… 2542 (done)

Writing of June Novel

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… 0505 words. Total words to date…… 5430

Total fiction words for the month……… 18158
Total fiction words for the year………… 311065
Total nonfiction words for the month… 3140
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 93120
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 404185

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 556 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 5 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 171

The Journal, Saturday, 6/3

Hey Folks,

The challenge is going great so far. With only two days in, I’ve already touched the two extremes.

First there was a story of around 3,000 words that flowed out as if anxious to get on the page. It was also a possible novel start.

Then a story of over 5,000 words that happened only after a false start on another story (almost 1000 words that I didn’t count).

So two days in, one great day and one day that made me whimper a bit. (grin) So far, so good.

Topic: Day 3 of the Challenge

Well, today’s going to be challenging. An hour or so after I got up, my allergies struck full force. So writing, sneezing, writing, blowing my nose, and writing will be the order of the day.

The story went pretty well today. But again, I learned something about myself.

I’ve been used to writing novels at a rate of a few thousand words per day. But a short story is not a particular length. And when I have to finish one every day, well, if it’s over around 4,000 words, it gets difficult because I’m not used to writing that many words in a day.

But I guess I’ll get used to it if I have to. I’d just rather not get used to it all at once. (grin)

Today was easier than yesterday, but considerably harder than Day 1. Mostly because today’s story was so long at just under 5,000 words.

I’m hoping more of the stories from here on out will be in the 3000 word range. If they aren’t, they aren’t, but that’s what I’m hoping for.

Trouble is, I have to do that without sacrificing physical description, etc.

So we’ll see. (grin)

Today, and Writing

Rolled out a little before 2 this morning. With this being Saturday, I thought maybe a head start was in order. However, I didn’t get to take advantage of the head start.

Moved to my outside desk at around 3. My allergies are right in the middle of me this morning for some reason. I didn’t get a lot done what with having to constantly tend to myself.

I did write an opening. Almost immediately cycled back and allowed myself to get mired in that process. So I finally decided to toss it and start over. (So kind of a repeat of yesterday that way.)

Finally moved out to the Hovel at around 6:30.

Started the same story with a different opening, and it took off. At noon, I posted the fourth scene in the story. I’ve written over 3,000 words today already, and the story isn’t close to being over. At best, it’s in the second half.

I have a feeling it’s going to be easy to go back to my daily word count goal of 3,000 words per day in July. If that were my only purpose right now, I’d be done for the day. (grin)

Got the story finished and posted at around 2:30. Long day for a Saturday.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Nothing much around the web that I could find today.

Fiction Words: 4851
Nonfiction Words: 510 (Journal) 570 (nonfiction book intro) Total 1080
So total words for the day: 5931

Writing of “Untitled” (Story 3 for June)

Day 1…… 4851 words. Total words to date…… XXXX (done)

Writing of June Novel

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 15111
Total fiction words for the year………… 308018
Total nonfiction words for the month… 2400
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 92380
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 400398

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 555 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 5 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 170