The Journal, Wednesday, 4/5

Hey Folks,

This morning I approved and responded to a comment on my latest ProWriters post over on the big blog.

After I did that, I read over the post. It was a topic from the Journal a couple of years ago. And I noticed that I had quoted some stats:

“Through yesterday, May 9, 2015 (as I write this) 128 days have passed since January 1. During that 128 days, I’ve written 284,100 publishable words of fiction. My daily average thus far this year is 2219.5312 words per day.”

That was two years ago. And that’s why I keep this Daily Journal.

Back to the present.

Through yesterday, April 4, 2017, there have been 94 days in this calendar year. In those 94 days, I’ve written 215,745 publishable words of fiction. My daily average thus far this year (including nonwriting days) is 2295.1595 words per day.”

Wow. On one hand, I need to pick up the pace, eh? By which I mean, 1-Spend more time in the writing chair, and 2-When I’m in that chair, spend more time actually writing.

On the other, is that consistency, or what? (grin)

But today I’ll be copyediting a work for another writer. More on that below. If an idea latches onto me and drags me to the Hovel, I’ll write too. Otherwise this will be a nonwriting day.

Topic: Scene and Chapter Breaks and Hooks

I love this topic, and it’s timely because it’s what I’ve been practicing in my last few WsIP. (grin)

I have a copyediting job that I put on the back burner because I was so close to finishing the novel. I’ll begin that copyedit today.

To see what I mean by “copyedit,” please visit

The writer also requested I check to see whether the scene and chapter breaks “make sense.” I’ll check, but I have no doubt they will. Then again, that led me to this topic for the day.

First, let me define “break” so we’re all on the same page.

In my books, chapter breaks consist either of white space followed by a new chapter head, or a series of five spaced asterisks (in anything I send to Smashwords) followed by white space.

As for scene breaks, in my books, those consist of a series of three spaced asterisks followed by white space. Just my way of doing it.

Some writers use only white space, and that’s fine. But all writers that I’ve encountered thus far use something to clearly mark breaks.

Because the writer asked, I’ll check to be sure those breaks make sense. But I’ll go a step further and check to see whether they hook together from scene to scene and chapter to chapter.

That’s actually a three-step process.

1. I’ll check to see whether there’s a tension-building cliffhanger (physical or emotional) in the few paragraphs before the break.

Yes? Check.

No? I’ll add a comment out to the side, with or without a specific recommendation.

2. I’ll check to see whether there’s a good hook immediately after the break. A good opening sentence or paragraph.

For examples of great opening hooks, see my free book (a $6 value) Writing Great Beginnings on the Free Stuff page of my website at

3. As long as I’m looking for a hook, I’ll also check to see whether the writer grounds (or re-grounds) the reader in the opening of the new scene or chapter.

For that, I’ll check the first few paragraphs of the new scene or chapter. That’s where you ground the reader, even amidst ongoing action.

So grounding. Yes? Check.

No? Again, I’ll add a comment out to the side, with or without a specific recommendation.

Okay, so while I’m on the topic, how do you ground or re-ground the reader in a new scene or chapter?

The only way is to allow the reader to sense (see, hear, smell, taste, touch) the setting through the POV character’s senses.

And remember to include the character’s opinions of the setting when appropriate. (When the opinion matters to the scene or illustrates the character of the character.)

One good example that I often use is a room in which the aroma of pipe tobacco lingers. Pretty much any character will notice it (smell).

But for one character it’s an aroma, and for another it’s a stench. For another the air is stuffy. For another it’s wonderful.

For another (or any of the above) perhaps it invokes a memory of the character’s father’s study.

For another (or any of the above) maybe it invokes the taste of cinnamon on toast because the scent of pipe tobacco is tied to that flavor for the character.

You get the idea. A good rule of thumb is to write NOTHING that doesn’t come through the POV character’s senses and opinion. And yes, that will flavor the character’s dialogue as well.

Most importantly, it will pull the reader into the setting and into the POV character’s head.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 4. Spent the first two hours with the usual stuff. Then around 6:30 I made a quick trip to the store.

Back at the house, I made and ate breakfast and did a chore or two. Oh, and wrote the stuff above. And just like that, over 4 hours of the day were gone.

Then I added another book to the Free Stuff page on my website (see above), then cross-posted the topic above to the big blog for posting sometime in December.

Around 9 I finally went face down in the copyedit.

Around 1:30 or so I realized I wasn’t going to write today. Edits pick up speed as you go through them. Perhaps I’ll begin writing again tomorrow or the next day.

For now, I’ll go ahead and post this.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Check the comments for The Magic Bakery: Chapter Three ( for yet another horror story re contracts.

I enjoyed “Fourth Story Finished Sort of…” ( because I’m glad to know it isn’t only me. (grin) Very interesting.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 1000 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1000

Writing of

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 7189
Total fiction words for the year………… 215745
Total nonfiction words for the month… 2080
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 59420

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 275165