Take Your Time (Revisited)

Hey Folks, As I was discussing with one of my mentoring writers a day or two ago, sometimes it’s necessary to take your time while writing. Yes, I write around 900 to 1200 words per hour. But if you do the math, that’s only 15 to 20 words per minute. And a minute is a long time. For comparison, how many WPM did you type in high school? (Mine was around 80 WPM.) So I’m just … Read more

What Writing Into the Dark Really Is

Hi Folks, Especially if you think you already know what WITD is, please don’t skip this topic. If you do know, you will have lost only a few minutes. If you don’t, this might open up a whole new world to you. Karen, an excellent storyteller, wrote a comment on my Daily Journal back in  April. I responded, albeit briefly, because if someone takes the time to comment and the comment seems to beg a response, … Read more

Let Your Characters Live Their Own Lives

Hey Folks, First, an excerpt from another professional writer’s post: “…writers should strive to make each plot point arise organically from character.” Later in the same post, the writer talks about a character living an “unauthentic” life. I don’t wonder. As I write this, I’ve seen too many Nationwide Insurance commercials lately. My first thought as I read the excerpt above was “Tiny baby shoes. So close.” (grin) If only the blogger had written “writers should … Read more

Human Traits and Human Parts

Hey Folks, Awhile back, I received an email from a long-time friend who’s also a professional writer. In his email, he wondered whether sometimes (maybe) it’s all right for writers to assign human traits to human parts: e.g., “His nose pressed up against the window” or “Her legs raced down the street” or “His eyes flew around the document.” Things like that. The short answer is, No, it isn’t. I mean, you’re the writer and the … Read more

Yeah, About that Writer’s Block Thing…

Note: Recently, as I tried to have MailChimp add the specific post title to my email, instead it added only the code: RSSFEED:SUBJECT. Understandably, this looked suspicious to some readers. I understand. From this point forward, the posts will have a generic subject line. Thanks for your patience. H Hi Folks, Know what? Writer’s block doesn’t exist. Wait. Way too haughty. Let me try again: Writer’s block doesn’t exist unless you experience it. Okay, that’s a … Read more

“Building” Characters?

Hey Folks, Some writers (and probably all of them/us at first) believe they have to “build” or “create” characters. Some folks even go so far as to create a “character sketch” to one degree or another. The character sketch might be so detailed as to include the character’s educational background, childhood experiences, and anything else. It’s the story of the character. Most often, writers who do this begin with a stick figure and then flesh it … Read more

On Specificity and Clarity in Writing

Hey Folks, I was going to write a whole post on this topic, but really, that isn’t necessary. It’s a personal pet-peeve kind of thing. And far be it from me to foist my “beliefs” on anyone else. What pet peeve? Well, people who write things and then postulate—not even apologetically but more apoplectically and with a wag of the hand—that “The reader will know what I mean.”  Those folks get on my nerves. Deep and … Read more

Write Honest Dialogue, You Racist Swine

Hi Folks, The following is a guest post by my friend, professional fiction writer and ghost writer Dan Baldwin. Billy Ray Watkins stood in the doorway of the old shack where the unfortunate sharecropper was kept prisoner. Watkins, 300 pounds of angry bigotry and hate, pounded his fist, sneered and wiped the chewing tobacco spittle from his lips. He grinned and said, “You lacking-in-a-proper education, fatherless son of the African veldt, I’m going to smack the … Read more

S-stuttering an’ St-stammering an’ St-stuff

Hi Folks, Note: This post was originally scheduled for 9/10/2013. It didn’t post to MailChimp, so I’m posting it again now. I’ve revised the original post so it’s up to date. As I write this, I just had an excellent question from an acquaintance in Tucson who wrote that she had bought my Punctuation for Writers a few years ago at a Society of Southwestern Authors (SSA) meeting and had found it useful. However, it had … Read more

Write What You Know — Seriously?

Howdy Folks, How many times has some pundit told you to “write what you know”? Uh, no. That is bad advice. Maybe the baddest advice ever, and I mean that in the old sense of “baddest,” before we started dumbing down the language. I mean “worst.” It’s bad advice because the connotation is that you should write ONLY what you know. So what? You’re supposed to write what you DON’T know? Yes. Of course. You should … Read more