The Journal, Friday, 11/25

Hey Folks,

Beginning today, I’m posting this Journal to my main site at If you came here looking for the Free Story of the Week, either scroll to the blog post below this or click the Free Story of the Week tab in the menu. It will still post every Friday at 8 a.m.

If you’re looking for the Pro Writers blog post, click the Pro Writers tab in the menu. It will still post every Tuesday morning at 8 a.m.

This Journal will post every day at 7 p.m. (All times are Arizona time.)

To all of my regular Journal readers, Happy Get-Over-All-The-Stuff-You-Ate-Yesterday Day. (grin)

I rolled out closer to my normal time this morning at around 3:30. I spent the first two-plus hours with email, Facebook etc. and read The Creative Penn post (see Of Interest below). If you don’t subscribe to that blog yet, I do recommend it.

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There’s no time like the present. This morning around 11:40 I switched the RSS feed for this blog over to the main site. This evening I’ll post this over there, and it will go out at 7 p.m.

If you receive this via RSS, the new feed is

If you receive it via email, you shouldn’t notice any difference, except maybe a different header. (I don’t think so, but maybe.)

I also added a final post to the blog over at, where this one was based for so long, redirecting folks to the other site for future posts.

Finally, I jumped over to the other site ( and revised the header there to include “& The Daily Journal.” Check it out. Lemme know what you think.

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Mona and I passed a quiet Thanksgiving yesterday, watching four episodes of Deadwood. We were both put off by the obviously gratuitous use of “foul” language.

Yes, even me. Especially as a writer.

Topic: When to Let Your Characters Use “Bad” Language

Okay, first of all, a disclaimer: I personally believe there is no such thing as “bad” language. Every word in the language serves a purpose.

For writers, every word in the language is a tool to be used in crafting a story. But like any other professional tool, it should not be abused.

With that in mind, I’m not sure what the writers of the popular HBO series Deadwood were trying to do, but I suspect they cost HBO some viewers. With regard to dialogue, the first few episodes comprise an excellent example of what not to do.

NOT because there was some “bad” language, but because the use of it was most often gratuitous.

The main bad guy constantly dropped the F bomb. That’s fine. It was expected and it suited his character.

But with only one exception, every other major character (and all the minor characters) did the same thing, also constantly. That was neither expected nor in character.

Here’s my recommenation.

Part I: As you run through the story with your characters, write down what they say (in their own voice and using the vocabulary they want to use) and what they do.

Part II: Be sure to include their opinions of the setting and any emotions they express about the setting. Do these two things and you’re gold.

Part III: Don’t Edit (!). Which is to say Don’t Force Your Will On The Characters.

So why the (!)? Because when I say “don’t edit,” that goes both ways.

If the character wants to use one or more words that you personally find offensive, let him. Don’t force him to clean up his act.

If another character DOESN’T want to use that word (most don’t, especially in mixed company), don’t force it on him.

Are there exceptions? Well, there are exceptions to how characters talk in various situations, yes.

For example, most of the men I know wouldn’t drop an F bomb in a social setting in mixed company. That might mean a setting in which there are women present or it might mean a setting in which members of a different social stratum are present.

The same men, in a social setting in which they are among trusted male friends (peers), might use foul language occasionally. It’s a familiarity thing.

And the same men, if they find themselves in a social setting in which they perceive the other men to be in higher standing than they, might use the same language more often than they usually do in order to gain favor.

But there are no exceptions for you, the writer, when it comes to allowing characters to be who they are in a given situation. When you relinquish control, you also relinquish responsibility. Just let ’em be who they are.

Of Interest

See The Creative Penn ( for a really great (realistic) post on using Facebook ads.

Free story of the week, “Curious Shapes,” posted at this morning.

Just a brief post-holiday post over at Dean’s place.

Today’s Writing

Added 800 words in the first session, mostly cycling but adding some much needed sensory detail. Then breakfast, then switching the journal over to the other site.

Back to writing at around 12:45.

Not a lot done today, but for a quasi-holiday, I’ll take it.

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 2099
Nonfiction Words: 760 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2859

Writing of Snubbing the Gods (novel, tentative title)

Day 10… 2829 words. Total words to date…… 22264
Day 11… 2493 words. Total words to date…… 24757
Day 12… 2099 words. Total words to date…… 26856

Total fiction words for the month……… 16998
Total fiction words for the year………… 672153
Total nonfiction words for the month… 14970
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 253810

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 925963