The Journal, Monday, 12/5

Hey Folks,

Very strange day today. I rolled out around 3:30, but I didn’t even think about getting to the story until around noon.

Before that, I did the usual email, coffee, and Facebook. Then I went to download pics from CanStock and found my subscription has expired. That was a fast week. Maybe I’ll renew for one more week, maybe not.

Then I set about straightening up my office. It had gotten to the point if you’d walked through the door, you wouldn’t be able to see me sitting behind my desk. It was that stacked up with stuff.

Also the walls were bare. They’ve been that way since we painted (and by “we” I mean my wife) several months ago. So I remedied that too.

Then I put on a load of laundry. Then it was noon. I checked Dean’s site, then came here.

After I wrote what’s above and below (except the Today’s Writing part) I folded and put away laundry. I’ll get to the writing around 1:30.

Topic: Writing for the Reader

First, this short topic was keyed by Dean’s post on his site today. But that doesn’t make it any less valid. And I can’t tell you how strongly I hope I’m preaching to the choir here.

I recommend you scroll down and read Dean’s topic before coming back to continue with this one.

If you’re wondering, I agree completely with Dean’s post, but with a proviso. It’s EASY for me to agree because awhile back I made the conscious decision to stop worrying about sales. I came to be a professional fiction writer so late that I just don’t worry about sales. All my efforts go to writing the next work. I figure my grandchildren and great-grandchildren might rake in some cash, and that’s fine.

On the other hand, I can honestly say I’ve ALWAYS been congnizant of the reader. Even before I was a “real” fiction writer.

Those who have taken my seminars or heard me speak at writers’ conferences and conventions can bear that out. More times than I can remember, I said some version of “Every word, and even every piece of punctuation you put on the page, must be placed with the reader in mind.”

Trite as it sounds, it’s true. And as “common-knowledge” as it seems, thousands of writers just don’t do it.

They SAY they’re aware of the reader. Then I’ll read a sentence in their work like, “Her eyes shot across the banquet room.” And when I ask them about it, they say something truly stupid (IMHO) and dismissive like, “Oh, the reader will know what I mean.”

Now up to a point, they’re right. The reader will take the extra second or two to “understand,” then go on reading. At least the first time. Or two. Maybe three.

But writers who do that once will do it again. And again. And again. All in the same story.

Writers who write like that make a false assumption: that they Deserve to have the reader figure out what they mean.

Uhh, no. Sooner or later, the reader will bust up laughing right in the middle of a tense girl-finds-boy romantic scene in your novel. Then she’ll put your book down and go find something less annoying to do.

I recently stopped reading Under the Dome by Stephen King because he kept pulling me out of the story.

And when that happens, it’s the writer’s fault.

The reader’s job isn’t to decipher the story, and it isn’t to figure out what the writer meant.

The reader’s only job, which she took on voluntarily by paying good money for your story, is to be entertained. Period.

Your job, the writer’s job, is to do everything within your power NOT to rudely jerk the reader out of the story.

Of Interest

At Dean’s place, Sales vs People vs Artistic Freedom ( As is often the case, he teaches more than he means to. I hope you’ll read it.

Today’s Writing

Well, again I let the day get away from me. I still have more non-writing stuff to do, so I’m gonna stop for now. Still no idea whether this is going to run or end up short.

Back at it tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 1038
Nonfiction Words: 640 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1678

Writing of Ray Acuna (tentative title)

Day 1…… 2058 words. Total words to date…… 2058
Day 2…… 3752 words. Total words to date…… 5810
Day 3…… 1934 words. Total words to date…… 7744
Day 4…… 1587 words. Total words to date…… 9331
Day 5…… 2158 words. Total words to date…… 11489
Day 6…… 1038 words. Total words to date…… 12527

Total fiction words for the month……… 6717
Total fiction words for the year………… 686411
Total nonfiction words for the month… 3690
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 261590

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 948001