The Journal, Wednesday, 3/22

Hey Folks,

First, thanks to all my long-time subscribers for hanging in there through the sparse posts as well as the longer ones. I appreciate you and your interest in these silly goings-on. Very much.

Most often, when a post is longer (like today) it contains a topic that I hope you will find useful at least a friendly reminder. That’s kind’a my way of giving back. So thank you.

Also, I’ve recently added a new feature in the right sidebar of the website. Just below the clock you’ll see the Tag Cloud. If you click the Topic tag, all of the posts that contain a topic will pop up.

Should you decide to unsubscribe, you can still visit the site occasionally and use this feature. I hope it will be helpful.

* * *

My son left this morning, headed for Indiana via a visit with his siblings in New Mexico. I sort of hoped to write later in the day, but I didn’t.

Before he left, I uploaded six 10-story collections and a novel to Curators can’t find them and include them in bundles if they aren’t there. Duh.

If you weren’t aware of this excellent marketing tool, check it out at

Later in the day, I decided to take an admin day. I was in an admin kind of mood, and I don’t like being behind on getting my stuff out there.

So I created yet another cover, this one for the novel The 13-Month Turn (formerly Will Perkins). Then I published it to Amazon and D2D.

Following that, I added four new novels to I hope you’ll swing by and take a look.

Then I moved over to StoneThread Publishing and did the same thing. Only over there I also created a book page for each novel. Each book page includes a larger photo of the cover, the blurb and search terms for the book, plus the universal buy link provided by D2D.

All of that took awhile. (grin) As I write this (almost 3 p.m.) I still have to upload The 13-Month Turn to BundleRabbit, but that takes only about 10 minutes.

Then I’m done for the day. Just in time to make supper for a hungry wife and a voracious grandson. (grin)

So at the moment I’m taking a break by updating and posting this Journal.

Topic: On Pacing and Paragraphing

If you tend naturally to write in paragraphs that are longer than about 4 or 5 lines (lines, not sentences), this topic might interest you a lot.

A few days ago I was reading one of my magic realism stories to my grandson. “The Storyteller” by Gervasio Arrancado.

I wrote this thing several years ago, and it was painfully obvious that I knew n-o-t-h-i-n-g about pacing. Or paragraphing, for that matter.

As I read it aloud to him, I got bored. Massively bored. I know it’s a good story, yet I found myself wondering what reader could possibly enjoy wading through this thing.

My pacing sucked. My paragraphing sucked worse. The two go hand in hand.

Now, I thought I knew paragraphing. And I did know what I’d learned in every English, English Comp and English Lit class I’d ever taken.

But no, I didn’t know paragraphing. And I had not the slightest clue about pacing.

The bare bones of pacing is this:

Especially when action is occurring, hit the Return (Enter) key more often.

Shorter paragraphs (smaller blocks of text) are easier and quicker to read and understand. So are shorter sentences and sentence fragments.

And all of those move the action along.

Shorter sentences and sentence fragments also convey a sense of drama and emphasis. If they aren’t overused, that’s a powerful tool.

Especially if they’re used in their own paragraph.

In an action scene, those shorter paragraphs force the reader’s eyeballs to catapult across the white space from one paragraph to the next in an attempt to keep up.

So even as the action is racing, the reader is racing right along with it.

But maybe the character moves into a new setting, one where he’s going to be for awhile and where action is not immediate.

For example, maybe he’s lying in wait for a victim or a perpetrator. Maybe he’s sitting with a colleague in a coffee shop discussing an interesting turn of events. Maybe he’s visiting family in Hoboken (or wherever).

That goes to pacing too.

In those circumstances, while he’s “resting” from the action, you can intentionally slow the reader with more detailed description and longer paragraphs.

So what about description? How much description of the setting is necessary?

Ask your character. He’s the one who’s actually in the story.

Consider, what does the character notice if he’s panicked and busting through a door to escape a fire?

What does he see, hear, smell, taste, touch when he’s immediately involved in a fist fight or a shootout as he enters a room (saloon, library, grocery store, airport, etc.)?

Maybe it’s all a blur. Or maybe one aspect or two of the setting stands out for him. Ask him. And then listen.

Now, what does he notice (again, see, hear, smell, taste, touch) when he is admitted to the home of a victim’s relatives to inform them he’s found the body of their son?

What does he notice in the hospital waiting room as he awaits word about his colleague?

What does he notice when he joins the rest of his extended family for Thanksgiving dinner?

I ask “what does the character notice” because if you want to ground the reader in the scene (and you do) ALL description of setting MUST come through the character’s senses of the setting as expressed in the character’s opinions of that setting.

Think about it. He probably won’t notice a lot about the setting (but maybe some) as he’s busting through a door to escape a fire or suddenly being involved in a firefight.

He might notice a great deal more about a setting in which he’s relaxed or in which he’s spending some time as he awaits the next action scene.

If he’s lying in wait to spring an ambush, he might notice a lot more AND notice it more specifically, or more clearly. All his senses will be heightened.

When we’re bored or otherwise unoccupied, we tend to pay more attention to sights, sounds, smells, etc. When we’re filled with adrenaline but not in the midst (yet) of action, our senses are hyper-sensitive.

It’s the same for your characters. Describe the setting accordingly.

Pace the scene accordingly.

Today, and (Still Not) Writing

I hope none of you are annoyed that I’ve missed a few days’ writing. I’m not, really. And how much I write doesn’t affect your bottom line, so…. However, tomorrow, I will write. Probably all day.

Rolled out at 2:20. Spent a very brief time with email and Facebook, then started uploading things to

Then I moved over here to write this, then checked Dean’s site.

Around 8:30 my son headed east, my wife went to her job and my grandson went for a walk. I’m basically gonna screw around for a little while. Fill the hummer feeders, cross post the topic to the big blog, etc.

I did a tiny bit of cycling in The 13-Month Turn (remember Will Perkins?), then formatted it, created a cover and published it. Then I did all the stuff up in the intro to today’s Journal

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

“A Few More Strength Workshop Questions Answered” at Dean’s place.

Also (and this is really weird in a timing kind of way) Dean talks about BundleRabbit with “Some Bundle Fun” at

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 1150 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1150

Writing of Novel Two (probably DOA)

Day 1…… 978 words. Total words to date…… 978
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 33439
Total fiction words for the year………… 185305
Total nonfiction words for the month… 15030
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 51620

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 236925

4 thoughts on “The Journal, Wednesday, 3/22”

  1. Thanks, Linda. And I assume the word choice would depend on the mood of the scene and/or the upcoming action/scene. Check it out, folks. One caveat: I have not personally heard of Margie Lawson. I don’t know how many novels etc. she has written. So again, be cautious of the source.

  2. Great advice, Harvey. I’ll look at my latest when I cycle through, I think the shorter sentences and the shorter paragraphs go naturally with the heightened action…but I will see if what I wrote, as I read it conforms to that ideal. thanks again…Love your tips…wish you were planning another seminar someday soon.

    • Thanks Bonnie. I am planning a workshop, but I’m not sure when yet. It’s going to cover a TON of information and probably run two days.

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