The Journal, Sunday, 11/27

Hey Folks,

I’m so spoiled. First, I have the best job in the world. Think about it. Day in, day out, I sit alone in a room making stuff up. It doesn’t get any better than that.

And second, I live in southeast Arizona. So on my rising this morning it was almost 50° outside. I enjoyed a good cigar as I began the day with emails and Facebook and a few games of Spider solitaire to wake up.

Of course, it’ll be getting cooler all day as a mass of cold air settles in, but still.

Topic: Being Unstuck in Time—A Bit More on Cycling

If you haven’t read the post on cycling (, I recommend reading that either before or after you read this topic. It will help. Even if I repeat information, chances are you’ll “get it” one way even if you don’t get it the other.

When a reader buys and reads a novel, she reads it as a linear story. She begins with Chapter 1 and reads straight through to the end. If you’ve written it well, she won’t even put it down until she’s reached and read the resolution.

So it’s safe to say most readers assume the novel was written that way too.

When little niggling details of the plot and subplot seem come together as the scene or story resolves, you, the writer, appear to be a genius. It’s almost magical to the reader.

Maybe in a scene in Chapter 2, the reader sees Aunt Marge surreptitiously slip a .32 caliber Owl revolver into the pocket of her housecoat.

Maybe in a scene in Chapter 19, Aunt Marge answers an insistent knock on her door late at night. Maybe a guy forces his way inside, and just as he begins to attack her, she pulls her revolver and enables him to assume room temperature before the EMTs arrive.

Then the reader remembers, possibly with a slap on her own forehead, the minuscule reference to the revolver that she almost skipped over back in Chapter 2 because it seemed just another part of the scene.

Bam! Just like that, the writer has achieved genius status and is rewarded with a reader-for-life.

Of course, the reader assumes you worked painstakingly from an outline. As part of that outline, in Chapter 2 Aunt Marge got a gun because she was going to use it in Chapter 19, although she couldn’t possibly have known what was going to transpire that far in advance.

Yeah. The thing is, neither did the writer. Well, neither did the writer who was smart enough to allow his subconscious to tell the story. He was unstuck in time, just enjoying the story the characters were living for him.

That’s where cycling comes into play.

You, the writer, are not working from an outline because

1. You’re writing to entertain yourself first, and
2. How boring would it be to write a story when you already know how everything’s going to turn out? That’s a lot like watching a sporting event or a movie after some moron tells you how the whole thing ends.

In entertaining yourself, you sit down, put your fingers on the keyboard, and write. Period. Write whatever comes. Then write the next sentence. Then write the next sentence.

You aren’t being the Almighty Writer On High with all that heady responsibility.

You’re down in the story, running through the scenes with your characters. Having Fun. Enjoying Yourself. You’re writing down what the characters say and do, and you’re thankful every day they allowed you to come along.

Then, late in the novel, Aunt Marge, who eschews violence in any form and firearms in particular, pulls a revolver and shoots a bad guy just before he would have done her grievous harm.

And you sit back from the keyboard as if she shot you instead. And you think, What? Where in the world did she get that gun?

We don’t know, but she DID get it. The evidence is bleeding on her living room floor.

So you check your reverse outline (see and

Then you cycle back to that scene in Chapter 2. You read over the scene (still in creative voice, giving your subconscious its head), and there it is.

There’s the point where Johnny turned away for a second as he and Lilly were taking their leave. And you put your fingers on the keyboard and record Marge slipping the revolver into the pocket of her housecoat.

And just like that, the world is all better.

Then you flash forward again to that point in Chapter 19 with the perp lying on the floor. You read over the last few sentences, then put your fingers on the keyboard and write the next sentence.

You’re probably writing faster at that point becuase the ending has revealed itself to you, or you know it will soon. So you’re bored, and you just want to finish this thing and put it out there for your readers.

Because you love your readers?

Well, okay. Maybe. But mostly because you want to start the next story. (grin)

But back to this cycling thing for a moment, and to being unstuck in time. The truth is, it’s next to impossible to hold a whole novel in your head, and who would want to? Where’s the fun in that?

Writing off into the dark (no outline) and cycling give you the best of both worlds. To the reader it looks as if you knew all along that Aunt Marge was going to shoot that intruder. But in reality, you were unstuck in time, entertaining yourself first. Writing for You.

But for your readers, to ensure a seamless reading experience, you also had the ability to move back and forth at will, adding what the characters told you to add.

And that’s fine. As Hemingway once wrote, “Never tell ’em you had to learn to write. Let ’em think you were born with it.”

Of Interest

Dean’s writing again, but no topic today. Just a regular day in his 11/26/16 Daily ( More to report in a few days, maybe. In the meantime, you at least have my silly topics to look over.

Today’s Writing

A little before 6 a.m. I wrote the topic above. Then I got a shower, changed out of my sweats, and started cycling through the novel again (from where I left off yesterday), playing catch up and stitching things together, erasing any seams.

1 p.m., just back from the store, lunch and putting things away. Back to the novel. I halfway expected to be finished with the cycling before we left here around 11:30, but that’s not the case. Still, it won’t get done until I do it.

Ahh, that’s better! Not a lot of new words added today, but I finished splicing and cycling. Tomorrow the novel should start moving along at a much faster pace. Woohoo!

See you then.

Fiction Words: 1061
Nonfiction Words: 1100 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2161

Writing of Snubbing the Gods (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
Day 13… 0670 words. Total words to date…… 27526
Day 14… 1061 words. Total words to date…… 28587

Total fiction words for the month……… 18729
Total fiction words for the year………… 673884
Total nonfiction words for the month… 16570
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 255410

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 929294