The Journal, Wednesday, 7/22

The Day
Rolled out about 2:30. No walk again today and maybe no writing. I have to be in Sierra Vista to visit my mechanic at 9 a.m. We’ll see how the day unfolds from there.

I could have written earlier, but I didn’t. Well, I did write, but nothing good. During my waking up time, a comment on Facebook set me off. I spent the next three hours writing some nonfiction spurred by the comment. Ugh.

Sometimes I’m an idiot. What I have to say would have no effect on the comment writer. It would make no difference whatsoever, and it serves only to further frustrate me. So three completely wasted hours there. I can’t believe some of the choices I make sometimes regarding how I spend my time.

And I won’t start writing on Wes now because I don’t want to get deep into a scene and have to interrupt it for my little side trip to SV this morning. It’s looking more and more like I’ll miss my original goal of having this book done and out before July 25. Might have to finish it on the road. But that’s all right. I allowed too many other things to take priority too many times.

Great post over at http://deanwesleysmith.com. He talks about yet another benefit of writing into the dark. Good read.

Sure enough, the gaskets that my truck needed even frustrated the mechanic. He started at about 9 this morning and had to re-do things until around noon when my wife came to pick me up. I’ll go get her at her work at 5, then back to SV (actually Whetstone, just north of Huachuca City) to get the truck.

Valve cover gaskets now look more like O rings than gaskets, for anyone out there who used to replace your own. We used to buy one set of valve cover gaskets and save the box. Then the next set we cut out of the box the first set came in. 🙂 Cereal boxes worked too.

I decided to call this a day off writing. Too much other going on.

Topic of the Night: Setting Priorities
Very briefly, you set your own priorities. You make choices, conscious or otherwise, in practically every moment.

Become aware of those choices. Own them.

If they aren’t what you want, or if the results aren’t what you want, begin changing how you assign priorities.

Basically,

  • you can be a plumber or cop or housewife who Also Writes when other things and people allow you to, or
  • you can BE a writer who also does other life things.

I am a writer who does other things, either when I choose to or when life happens. Today it was mostly life happens and partly kickin’ back. (grin)

What to take from this: It’s all up to you.

Today’s Writing
No writing today. Zero.
Fiction words: XXXX

This really is kind’a strange. I have only 18 writing days on this novel, so not bad, but that’s over 31 calendar days. For me that’s a long time. I don’t think I’ve taken off that many days before while writing a novel. Anyway, this one is closing down on the end so I think the writing will go pretty fast from here on out.

Writing of The Battle of Tres Caballos (Book 8)
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… 1730 words. Total words to date…… 29786
Day 13… 1083 words. Total words to date…… 30869
Day 14… 1784 words. Total words to date…… 32653
Day 15… 4018 words. Total words to date…… 36671
Day 16… 3116 words. Total words to date…… 39787
Day 17… 1678 words. Total words to date…… 41469
Day 18… 1805 words. Total words to date…… 43274
Day 19… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month…………… 34004
Total fiction words for the year……………… 439687

The Journal, Tuesday, 7/21

The Day
Rolled out about 2:30 after a rough night babysitting an ulcer. Definitely no walk today.

Books 3 and 7 of the Wes Crowley saga came in from CreateSpace today. I order three or four copies of each major title I put out just to have a few on hand. Here are the covers of those two:

Marshal 150I got some pretty good writing done today, but not fully up to speed. Took a lot more time off to just sit than anything else. Still, advanced the novel. And I’m getting closer to the point where I’ll see the ending.

I did find out today that one of the lesser characters in the previous book is bigger than I first thought. And she’s bigger because she has a personal vendetta against Wes. That was kind’a interesting. Not sure yet why she has a vendetta, but I hope they’ll tell me in the next day or two. (grin)

So I did nothing today other than resting and writing, and all of the writing came in short bits here and there. It’ll be better tomorrow.

Topic of the Night: Writing Off Into the Dark, Part Two To Direct or Not to DirectCrowley 150
In yesterday’s post, I wrote that WOITD is writing without without allowing your conscious mind to “direct” every action of every character and every word that comes out of your characters’ mouths.

True dat.

So that means you have a choice.

Most of us have been taught that we’re supposed to study and plot and do character studies and outlines and Control The Snot out of our characters. Wrong.

How would you like it if someone else were controlling everything you did, everything you said?

Well, your characters feel the same way.

In a good marriage or a good friendship, the parties run through life together. They simply enjoy each other’s company and are there for each other. And as you go through life you get little snapshots and opinions of each other. Later, perhaps in memoir or when talking with another person, you convey your memories of that time.

It’s the same in a story. Exactly the same. Exactly.

The brave writer doesn’t “direct” anything. The brave writer, like the brave friend or lover, runs through life with her characters, exploring and experiencing the same things they do AS THE CHARACTERS experience them. And the writer writes down what the characters say and do.

Notice: The writer doesn’t DIRECT the characters to say and do certain things. The writer merely observes, AS she’s running through the story with the characters, and writes down what they say and do.

If you do this, if you trust your subconscious and write off into the dark, your characters WILL surprise you, I promise.

Practically every day mine do or say things that I had no idea they were going to say or do. Many times, as I’m writing, I stop, sit back from the computer and laugh out loud. And when the characters take me completely by surprise, I know they’ll do the same for the reader.

By the way, there have been some GREAT posts over at http://deanwesleysmith.com over the past few days on the business of writing. I hope you’re following his blog.

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: 1805

Writing of The Battle of Tres Caballos (Book 8)
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… 1730 words. Total words to date…… 29786
Day 13… 1083 words. Total words to date…… 30869
Day 14… 1784 words. Total words to date…… 32653
Day 15… 4018 words. Total words to date…… 36671
Day 16… 3116 words. Total words to date…… 39787
Day 17… 1678 words. Total words to date…… 41469
Day 18… 1805 words. Total words to date…… 43274

Total fiction words for the month…………… 34004
Total fiction words for the year……………… 439687

Real Dialogue Tips

Hey Folks,

Because dialogue comes directly from the character’s mouth to the reader’s ear, no other part of your story is more intimate with the reader. No other part of the story will do more to engage the reader directly.

Dialogue dialogue consists of three elements: two parts narrative and one part nuance. The narrative parts are tag lines and brief descriptive narrative. Nuance is composed of the subtleties of implication. What your character says is never more important than how she says it, as dictated by your use of punctuation, word choice, and sentence structure.

Tag Lines

The purpose of tag lines—Tag lines exist ONLY to let the reader know which character is speaking. (Some call these narrative beats.) They do not stand alone. They consist of either the character’s name or the appropriate personal pronoun and a simple intransitive verb that indicates utterance. The best verb to use is “said.”

More exciting tag line verbs—If someone tells you to use more exciting tag line verbs they don’t know what they’re talking about. Always using “he said” or “Susan said” is boring, but that’s a good thing. Tag lines should be very brief and boring so the reader can skip quickly over them and get back to what matters. An “interesting” tag line will pull the reader from the story line.

Reverse constructions—There is never a good reason to use a reverse construction (verb first) in a tag line, said Harvey. Again, that calls attention to the tag line. And again, the tag line exists only to let the reader know which character is talking. It doesn’t set mood, tone, or any of those other literary terms.

Punctuation with tag lines—When the tag line occurs before the sentence, or when it occurs after a sentence that would normally end with a period, the tag line is always attached to the sentence with a comma.

Brief Descriptive Narrative Passages

Descriptive narrative passages sometimes are confused with tag lines, but the key word here is descriptive. Also, BDNs stand alone. They are complete sentences, separate of the line of dialogue. The descriptive narrative passage enables the reader to see a bit of the scene.

Use action verbs in descriptive narrative passages. When you use action verbs, you will automatically use fewer adjectives and adverbs. Any unnecessary adjectives and adverbs will fall away of their own accord.

Because it will set the tone or mood or voice of the dialogue to come, the brief descriptive narrative passage should appear before the dialogue:

An impish smile creased her lips. “Almost finished there?” (This way we see the smile and hear her tone as she speaks.)

Most often, if the BDN appears after the dialogue, the reader will back up and re-read the dialogue with the new information in mind. This is an interruption in the flow of the reading, and every interruption is a chance to stop reading your story or book.

Brief interruptive narrative passages are used in the midst of dialogue to enhance the rhythm or to give the reader a brief glimpse of a changing setting. Dialogue is wonderful but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

In this excerpt from “Mama’s Taste in Men,” a short story, you’ll find no tag lines at all and only necessary brief descriptive narratives. Study it to see why the BDNs are where they are:

My fist relaxed and I reached for Joe Ray’s hand. “Mean it or not, you shouldn’t say bad things about my mama.”

He took my hand and I helped him to his feet. “I just said she had bad taste in men,” he said, wiping cow spit off his face with one hand and dusting off his coveralls with his hat. “Besides, it was only a joke.”

“Well, some things you just don’t joke about. Besides, that ain’t exactly what you said. You said if Mama’s taste for men was in her mouth, her breath would smell like dung.”

“That was the joke part.”

“Well, in the future, keep your stupid sense of humor to yourself.” I thumped his chest with my forefinger. “Else you could wind up covered with cow slobber. Besides, Jake’s okay. He just ain’t got no nose holes.”

“Nostrils.”

“What?”

Sam spoke up. “Nostrils. Nose holes are called nostrils.”

“How do you know?’

Lester, who generally knows what everybody knows, put in his two cents. “Everybody knows that, Vernon. Nostrils is short for nose holes.”

I snorted. “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.”

“Maybe dumb and maybe not so dumb, but it’s true all the same.”

Lester was tired of arguing, so Sam closed in for the kill. The Broden Brothers Tag Team. “We’ll wait ’til school and ask Miss Durb. She knows all about such things.”

That was my cue to end it. “Fine. We’ll ask Miss Durb. But school ain’t ’til Monday and Mama’s wedding is tomorrow. So we’re on truce ’til Monday.” I stuck out my hand, palm down, offering them the sign of the truce. “Agreed?”

And the nuances of dialogue? That’s just how your character delivers the part within the quotation marks. The voice should be unique from one character to another. It’s whether the character says “Do you want to?” or “Do y’wanna?” or “You wanna?” It’s whether the character speaks tersely or succinctly or vaguely.

The character should always speak the way a REAL person (of the same gender, same race or ethnicity and same education level) from the same area in the same situation would speak. Not complicated at all, is it? (grin)

Use tag lines only when it’s absolutely necessary to let the reader know which character is speaking.

Use brief descriptive narratives (introductory or interruptive) to enhance the scene for the reader.

Follow these brief tips and your dialogue will be miles ahead.

‘Til next time, happy writing!

Harvey

Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out. If you’ve already contributed, Thanks! If you can’t make a monetary donation, please at least consider forwarding this post to a friend or several. Again, thank you.

The Journal, Monday, 7/20

DSC00099bThe Day
Almost 3 when I rolled out this morning. Checked emails and weather. No rain, so I’ll walk this morning.

Had a great walk. Only about 5.5 miles but at a good pace despite shooting a few pics. Got a couple cover pics so it’s all good.

The guy on the left is a baby cotton tail and he was naturally curious. Hopped just off the trail, then stopped and looked while I took pictures. Might be a girl. I see she has a little green bouquet just above her left eye. (grin)

My old Coleman metal cooler is working fine. Just have to slap silicone on one minuscule leak. Woohoo! Older SERIOUSLY is better.

Hmm. Good thing once again I have really flexible hours. (grin)

Had an eye doctor appointment in Willcox (I don’t do SV whenever I can help it), then hung around town for another hour buying some stuff I can’t find within 30 miles of Good Ol’ Benson who’s running everybody out with their Stinkin’ High Taxes.

Anyway, I wrote some this morning, but with the day dwindling (again) and with a massive storm sitting just southwest considering thinking about deciding whether it might possibly move into Saint David, I’m reporting early.

Topic of the Night: Writing Off Into the Dark, Part One
This is writing without an outline, without a plan, without allowing your conscious mind to “direct” every action of every character and every word that comes out of your characters’ mouth.

Look, if someone tells you how a novel ends, do you still want to read it? Most people would say No.

So if you know before you start writing what’s going to happen, why do you want to write it? Isn’t that boring? It is to me.

Bradbury once said (paraphrasing) How can a writer expect to surprise the reader if he doesn’t surprise himself?

And when asked about his process for writing Dandelion Wine, he said he wrote it like he wrote everything else. He got his coffee, he sat down at the typewriter, he put his fingers on the keys, and he wrote whatever came.

So writing off into the dark. Sit down at your writing computer, put your fingers on the keyboard, and write whatever comes.

Trust it. Trust your subconscious to tell the story. It’s been doing that a lot longer than you’ve known the alphabet.

I once wrote that this technique is an offshoot of Heinlein’s Rules. That isn’t really true. You can write off into the dark even if you aren’t following Heinlein’s Rules. But they do go together very nicely.

If there were specific rules for writing off into the dark they would read like this (annotated with an explanation to save space):

  1. Sit down at your writing computer and Just Write. (Just Write: Don’t think about what you want to write. Don’t outline. Don’t strive for a plot; the characters will bring it with them. Don’t plan and force the characters/story to conform to your plan. Don’t do anything else. Let Go and Just Write.)
  2. When you get stuck, Just Write the Next Sentence. Then Write the Next Sentence. Then Write the Next Sentence. (When you get stuck, Just Write the Next Sentence: If there is no next sentence, if nothing comes [Don’t Think!], that scene is probably finished. Just write the next scene. Open it by writing whatever comes into you mind, then write the next sentence. Lather, rinse, repeat.)
  3. Run your spell checker. (Remember, this is done in critical mind. It’s imperative that while you’re doing this, you don’t start reading even small snippets of the story and “fixing” it. Like one little drink for an alcoholic or one cigarette for me, it will lead you to a lifetime of rewriting and polishing instead of submitting and publishing. And you WILL polish the good off your story.)
  4. Send to your first reader, then publish. (If you have a first reader, when it comes back, fix whatever the first reader caught IF YOU AGREE. If you don’t have a first reader, or if you don’t have a good first reader, skip it and just publish.)
  5. Write the next story. Writers Write. (Self-explanatory. Writers Write. Just Write.)

So there you go.  Tomorrow’s topic: Writing Off Into the Dark, Part Two (You do NOT want to miss this. And stop being stingy. Tell your friends!)

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: 1678

Writing of The Battle of Tres Caballos (Book 8)
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… 1730 words. Total words to date…… 29786
Day 13… 1083 words. Total words to date…… 30869
Day 14… 1784 words. Total words to date…… 32653
Day 15… 4018 words. Total words to date…… 36671
Day 16… 3116 words. Total words to date…… 39787
Day 17… 1678 words. Total words to date…… 41469

Total fiction words for the month…………… 32199
Total fiction words for the year……………… 437882

The Journal, Saturday, 7/18

The Day
Rolled out at 1:30. Checked emails and weather. I don’t mind being up a little earlier this morning since I want to make headway on this novel but I also have to visit Sierra Vista today. If the place there doesn’t have what I need that will turn into a trip to Tucson. Ugh. Hope not.

Started the day (after a waking up period) writing this post. Now, almost two hours after I got up, finally I’m turning to the writing computer.

Well the neighbor’s dog went nuts outside, triggering an hour long series of time-wasting crap. I hate it when a bunch of erratic stuff takes over and is so jerky and staccato that it seems to take only ten minutes and then I look up and an hour of my life is gone. I mean, I started this whole getting up in the early morning thing specifically to give myself a few hours of quiet.

Anyway, all of that led me in a roundabout way to doing updates for the websites I run for other people. I’d scream, but I know it wouldn’t do any good. (grin)

It’s all right. Life happens, eh? I just need to breathe. I anticipated a few hours of writing time early today because I have to go to SV later, but I don’t have to go to SV at a particular time. I’ll just put off the trip a bit.

And if I have to I’ll wait and go Monday.

No walk yesterday and no walk today.

Got to SV, found the parts I needed (the struts to hold up the shell “door” when I raise it) and a new lock. The lock didn’t work so I modified it. Still didn’t work but I can’t return it ’cause I modified it. So I started looking through all my old keys. Turns out I found one that will work fine on the old lock, so I’m all set. (grin)

Hardest item to locate is the weather-stripping-like hard foam rubber to seal the cap to the bed, but I’ve already come up with a solution for that so it’s all good.

Got two more hours done on Book 8 and now I’m gonna take a little break, then finish the writing for the day.

Almost ran out of time. This is supposed to post at 5 p.m. so I have to get it out. Makes my word count a little light.

Topic of the Night: Following Your Passion

I posted something about this awhile back. I might make this a post over in the big blog too. That’s the blog for those who think maybe perhaps they might want to consider pursuing the idea of thinking about becoming a professional fiction writer on the outside chance that eventually they are able to carve out ten minutes or so. To think about it. (grin) I’m kidding. Maybe.

That blog’s also for all levels of writers: hobbyists, aspirants, and professional writers alike.

But no matter the level of your aspiration or achievement, you should follow your passion.

That provides you automatically with two goals.

  • If your passion is writing, then write.
    • Note: If your passion is Something Else, then by all means do Something Else. Nobody’s holding a gun to your head here. And if your passion is drama, drape one arm over your forehead and complain constantly what terrible drudgery writing is, but that you simply must do it because you are compelled by forces greater than yourself. (grin)
  • And if you write, then write what you’re passionate about. It doesn’t have to be a particular genre. It can be a set of characters or a particular story line or an untenable situation or whatever.

The point is, it’s easy to sell out to what you believe the market wants. It’s also easy to stop writing and focus on selling what you’ve already written. And there are any number of other copouts.

What’s difficult in any art form (including writing) is to follow your passion DESPITE what your family and friends and critique group members say, and DESPITE lagging sales, and even DESPITE your own critical voice.

When I started writing full time, if you’d said I was going to write a western ANYthing I’d have laughed in your face. No possible way would I write a western, despite my background.

But I wrote one story that turned out to be a western. Then I listened to the characters, who told me a story nobody else had written. I started writing it. Now it’s in the eighth book and I’m expecting the whole story to fill nine or ten books. And although the story contains strong elements of romance and fantasy (magic realism) and suspense, at its heart it’s a western.

I do not have a passion for writing westerns, but I do have a passion (am driven) to write Wes Crowley’s story. So that’s what I write. DESPITE the fact that the worst selling commercial genre for books is the western. (grin)

I also have a passion for writing Mario Puzo type characters, mobsters and the like. And little inner-city wannabe gangstas. And deep down inside I have an urge to write a detective series, maybe mixed in with the mobster characters.

I guess vampire and werewolf stuff is really big right now and has been for awhile. Yet I know I probably will never write a vampire or werewolf story. It just isn’t my thing. Even my magic realism is closer to reality than that stuff. (grin)

So as a writer, you have a decision to make: Follow your passion or follow the markets?

Today’s Writing
No comment beyond what’s above in the “Day” section. No time. (grin)
Fiction words: 3116

Writing of The Battle of Tres Caballos (Book 8)
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… 1730 words. Total words to date…… 29786
Day 13… 1083 words. Total words to date…… 30869
Day 14… 1784 words. Total words to date…… 32653
Day 15… 4018 words. Total words to date…… 36671
Day 16… 3116 words. Total words to date…… 39787

Total fiction words for the month…………… 30521
Total fiction words for the year……………… 436204

The Journal, Friday, 7/17

The Day
Rolled out about 2, so back to normal. Checked emails and other things, including Dean’s blog for the past two days. I recommend reading his topic of the night Here and then Here. Great stuff if you want to see why I say you should NOT get an agent, and why you should publish your work and then leave it published.

I also read a lot of the comments on Dean’s posts. Interesting stuff, both for what people “get” and what they don’t.

Started out the day around 4 a.m. (after all of the above) just writing with Wes. My intention for today is to write all day in a series of starts. Should work out well. We’ll see.

I miss writing short stories. I miss the break that gave me from the Wes Crowley storyline and I miss the excitement of as-yet-unknown characters surprising me. I’m going to continue my hiatus from writing shorts for a while yet, but I’ll be starting a new challenge for myself soon.

Now I could just write a short story as it occurs to me, and if a story idea occurs to me strongly enough, I’ll do that. But I’m better motivated when I’ve attached my writing to a goal.

During one break in writing I designed and printed up BusCard1some new business cards. Very basic, just to get the information out there. Here’s one, in case you’re interested.

Topic of the Night: Be Careful Where You Get Advice
I talk often about learning to quiet your conscious, critical mind when you write.

Some of you accomplish that, at least temporarily, and that’s fine. I don’t think anyone has found a way to permanently silence the critical mind. The trick is to remain on guard and to silence it each time it reappears. And it will reappear. It wants to stop you from writing as a way to protect you, remember? If you don’t write, you can’t publish, and if you don’t publish, you aren’t opening yourself to criticism.

So you learn to silence or squelch the critical voice when you sit down to write.

You are determined, even, not to rewrite because finally you’ve understood that rewriting, more often than not, will destroy a perfectly good piece of writing. So far so good.

Then you finish a short story or a chapter in your novel or a scene in your memoir and, for some completely unfathomable reason, you share it with a critique group.

So let me get this straight. You have learned, finally, to trust your subconscious and quiet your own critical voice… and now you’re going to subject your writing to someone ELSE’S critical voice?

Uh, no. Bad idea. Maybe baddest idea ever. Don’t do that.

And if you DO decide to submit your stuff for critique, AT LEAST submit it to people who have a LOT more publications than you do in the same literary genre (i.e., short fiction, essay, novel, etc.) and/or in the same commercial genre (i.e., SF, western, romance, etc.).

My advice today is the same as it was way back in October. Find yourself a good first reader.

Preferably, this person will NOT be a writer and will therefore not be tempted to bring his or her own voice to the work.

Preferably, this person will be an avid reader of the type of work you write.

Then ask that person to tell you about

  • any typos
  • any inconsistencies (character wearing a grey jacket when he goes into a bank and a brown one when he comes out, and
  • anything else at all that confuses the reader or stops the reading cold.

Then go back and fix those places IF YOU AGREE with your first reader. You don’t have to do everything the first reader recommends.

If your first reader starts giving you writing advice, smile, say Thank You and find a new first reader.

Seriously.

Today’s Writing
Started on Book 8 by cycling back through a scene that was bothering me.

My subconscious was nagging me, saying the scene wasn’t complete, but I wasn’t able to see earlier where it was lacking.

Today as I read back through it, the rest of the scene flowed out through my fingers with no prompting from me. I love it when that happens.

Note that this is NOT rewriting. Rewriting is something you do with your conscious, critical mind, counting the number of times you use a particular word or checking to make sure you alternated sentence structures just so or whatever. None of that will improve your work. I promise.

As I expected (and hoped), the writing ran well today in a series of starts. I’m still trying to train myself to write for about an hour (about a thousand words) and then take a break.

Getting pretty good at it. Now if I can just keep doing it that way. (grin) Still, with my overall goal of wanting this novel finished and out before July 25, I think it’s not going to be a problem.

Fiction words: 4018

Writing of The Battle of Tres Caballos (Book 8)
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… 1730 words. Total words to date…… 29786
Day 13… 1083 words. Total words to date…… 30869
Day 14… 1784 words. Total words to date…… 32653
Day 15… 4018 words. Total words to date…… 36671

Total fiction words for the month…………… 27405
Total fiction words for the year……………… 433088

The Journal, Thursday, 7/16

The Day
Rolled out about 3 (yay, slept in). Checked emails and other things.

Started today by writing a nuts and bolts post on dialogue for the Pro Writers series that posts every ten days. Guess I’ll be running through my core seminars again (briefly) in the next several posts over there.

Had a good walk today. Planned to hit about 6 miles and wound up with 7.5.

I was planning to take most of today to finish finding parts I need for that used shell I bought for my pickup, but I decided to write all day today (wife’s a work) and tomorrow. I’ll plan to take Saturday to do all that other stuff. Not that I won’t write Saturday, but writing will slip to Priority 2.

Just a normal non-writer day, really. Laundry, and a lot of other stuff. Normal stuff. Bland, boring normal stuff. I need to go camping again.

Anyway, then I finished off the day listening to The Four Tops sing “Baby, I Need Your Lovin'” (remember that?) and Aerosmith’s “Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” and then Garth Brooks’ version of “It Don’t Matter to the Sun.” Why? No idea. Except I like perfection. Especially beautiful, emotional perfection. Up there with “Annie’s Song” by Denver or Lonestar’s “Amazed.” Whew.

Topic of the Night: Keeping Track of You
I was browsing back through EARLY installments of this journal for possible topics to update and share (Yes, I canibalize my own work) when it struck me how far I’ve come as a write in only nine months. Seems very gestational, doesn’t it? (grin)

I started writing a short story each week way back in April, but I started Writing Seriously (novels, novellas and nonfiction plus the story of the week) last October. So for any realistic measurement I’ve been a real writer for only about nine months.

One of those entries was about a short story I wrote. I never dreamed I’d write a western, and it was a western. And toward the end of it, the characters told me they’d been buddies for a long time before they were enemies. They told me where everything started, and they asked me to write the story.

It became a novel called Leaving Amarillo. And then there was another one. Then another. Now I’m working on Book 8 in that saga.

And when I started, I wasn’t sure whether it would be a novel or just a novella. Even Dean Wesley Smith told me to be careful about setting a firm date to have it out.

But the point here is how wonderful it is to glance back over those entries since October 19, 2014 and see how much things (especially my perceptions) have changed. It’s nothing short of incredible.

So I encourage you to carve a little time out of your day each day to make a few notes on a journal. You can do it like I do this one, complete with a daily, monthly and yearly word count, or whatever. I guarantee you’ll enjoy looking back over it a few months down the line.

Today’s Writing
I wrote a little bit on Book 8 of the Wes Crowley saga, but I’m not gonna count it as a writing day. I got a lot of writing done, but very little fiction.

I wrote three blog posts for the “main” blog (Pro Writers category) and scheduled them. I’ll be on a modified vacation from July 25 through August 5 and don’t want to have to depend on OPI (Other People’s Internet). Opi is not a good boy. When everything else is clicking along famously, Opi will screw you every time.

Also went through and prepped (very lightly rewrote, heavily reparagraphed) three more stories from Gervasio for stories of the week and got those pre-posted as well. Incredible how L O N G some of my paragraphs were back when I originally wrote those. Ugh. They read much better now. The poetry and humor is still there, but at a lot better pace.

Fiction words: XXXX

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… 1730 words. Total words to date…… 29786
Day 13… 1083 words. Total words to date…… 30869
Day 14… 1784 words. Total words to date…… 32653
Day 15… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month…………… 23387
Total fiction words for the year……………… 429070

The Journal, Wednesday, 7/15

The Day

Rolled out about 2. Checked emails and other things.

Had another short walk today, right at 4 miles. Looking forward to a good walk tomorrow.

Sticking on one scene in Book 8 for some reason.  Standard, average, typical day for me.

Topic of the Night: Eating an Elephant

There’s an old joke. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

That’s how you write a novel, too. One word, one sentence, one paragraph, one scene at a time.

I was looking over some old stuff, back when this journal was strictly private. Back in late October 2014, one of the new goals I set was to write “six novels in the next calendar year.”

Well, that’s when I expected to finish my first one by December 8. Then I was going to lay off until January 1, then start writing toward my goal.

As it turned out, I released the first novel on November 11 and the second one on December 7. Then I released the third one on December 27.

I was able to do that once I realized I can’t write a “novel.” The idea is overwhelming. But I can write a sentence, a paragraph, a scene. I can keep plugging away until the story is finished.

So this calendar year (thus far) I’ve written five novels and a novella. Those are in addition to the two “extra” novels I wasn’t expecting to have finished last year.

But not one time was I able to sit down and wrap my head around an entire novel or even the novella. Each time I wrote a scene, then another scene, then another scene. I ran through the story with my characters, and I wrote down what they said and did. That’s all.

And that ended up being eight novels and a novella, and counting. Oh, plus a short story every week. (grin)

So if you’re ever overwhelmed at the idea of writing a novel, just remember you can’t. Just write the scene. Don’t worry about how it connects to anything else. Just write the scene. Then write another one. Then another. Your characters will lead you through.

Today’s Writing

Not a lot to it. Finally knocked out the one scene and that’s about it. Things will break loose soon.

Fiction words: 1784

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… 1730 words. Total words to date…… 29786
Day 13… 1083 words. Total words to date…… 30869
Day 14… 1784 words. Total words to date…… 32653

Total fiction words for the month…………… 23387
Total fiction words for the year……………… 429070

The Journal, Tuesday, 7/14

The Day
Rolled out about 2. Checked emails and comments on Facebook (posted some things about the trip). I did walk today, but keep it short at just over 3 miles.

Had a trip to Sierra Vista for two new tires and an oil change for the pickup. Ugh. But it was necessary with a long trip coming up.

Stopped in at the mall and talked very briefly with the Marine recruiter, a young veteran of the goings-on in Iraq. He was wounded. He was also stout, staunch, and upright. He is a protector. Many of the protected do not deserve his fine defense. I hope he never wakes up to feel that everything he and his friends have given was in vain. I hope he never feels his nation abandoned him.

Topic of the Night: Fiction as Escape
Certainly fiction is an escape for the reader. Maybe it’s an escape for the writer too. Maybe it’s a way to write what ought to be instead of what is.

I suspect Tim McCanlies, the screenwriter who wrote lines for Uncle Hub in the film Secondhand Lions, was thrilled to write what ought to be:

That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and that love, true love, never dies. … Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. A man should believe in those things because those are the things worth believing in.

Now the protagonist isn’t perfect. He isn’t all good. He or she is an ordinary human being who does extraordinary (and extraordinarily good) things.

And the antagonist isn’t all bad, unless he’s Hitler or Charles Manson or an insane religious freak who will behead women and children while the nation that holds itself up as the beacon of the world apologizes for him and strives not to “offend” him. But I digress.

You are fortunate, folks. If you are writers, you are fortunate. You get a chance to write what ought to be. You get a chance to escape the insanity for a little while, and write what ought to be.

Today’s Writing
I wrote a bit here and a bit there, before my walk, after my walk, and after the trip to SV. Bits and pieces here and there. Kind’a had the air taken out of me when I talked with my young brother in arms.

Fiction words: 1083

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… 1730 words. Total words to date…… 29786
Day 13… 1083 words. Total words to date…… 30869

Total fiction words for the month…………… 21603
Total fiction words for the year……………… 427286

The Journal, Monday, 7/13

The Day

Rolled out about 2. For some reason, still recovering from the camping trip. I might not walk tomorrow, or keep it short.

Today again I messed around the house a bit, went for a walk and got some pics. I also posted a video of the place where Dan and I went camping. It’s a calm video, between rainstorms, to show people why we go there.

Also posted a few pics from the trip. Then I ordered a couple of parts for the camper shell and bought some stuff for it. It’s coming along slowly. No rush.

Back to writing with Wes off and on today. Like I said, I’m still recovering. Weird.

Topic of the Night: Write the Next Whatever

The best advice I’ve ever received or given is to Write the Next Sentence. If you keep doing that, your characters will lead you eventually to the end of whatever you happen to be writing.

I was following that advice one day when I realized there WAS no next sentence. A short time later (thankfully) I realized the scene was over. I was trying to move the character into a dead area that was unnecessary and boring. What I needed to do was write the next SCENE. And that’s when I became a writer who writes scenes.

A scene is a character (or a few characters) dealing with one situation. To this day, I still can’t “write a novel,” but I can write a scene. I can write a bunch of scenes. I can write a novel.

If you’re the kind of writer who writes scenes, that’s good. If you aren’t, or if you need a refresher, here ’tis.

1. To begin a scene, put your fingers on the keyboard and write whatever comes.

2. To get through the scene, write the next sentence, then write the next sentence, then write the next sentence. Don’t think about where it’s all going or even about the second or third sentence: Just write the next sentence.

3. When you’re writing a scene, don’t worry about how it connects to other scenes. Just focus on that scene.

4. When the scene ends, write whatever comes for the next scene (or for another scene), then write the next sentence, then write the next sentence, then write the next sentence.

5. Your character(s) will lead you to where you need to be.

The whole trick is to Keep the story moving forward.

The Writing
I prepped a couple more stories for the weekly free short story release, and I wrote some on Wes today. Feeling great about the book. Not moving fast right now, but moving toward where it’s gonna move fast. It wouldn’t surprise me if this one wrapped at about 20 days. Woohoo!

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: 1730

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… 1730 words. Total words to date…… 29786

Total fiction words for the month…………… 20520
Total fiction words for the year……………… 426203