A Good Question, and Punctuation

In today’s Journal

* A Good Question
* Punctuation
* Of Interest

A Good Question

In a comment on “An Email, and You Who Disagree,” Chynna P wrote “[D]oes this mean you’ll stop writing the Journal soon?”

I doubt many read the comments, so I thought I’d respond in today’s edition of the Journal. (I hadn’t planned to post an edition today at all.)

First, thanks to Chynna for the question. She read the post correctly, but the answer is, I honestly don’t know.

I’m not getting any younger, and I’d really rather fashion an intentional end to my contribution in the Journal than just disappear one day.

Also, I feel like I’ve passed along pretty much everything anyone needs to completely change his or her life as a writer and to become a prolific professional writer. In the Journal over the past 8+ years I’ve freely donated all the tools you need. Whether or not I continue with the Journal, everything in your writing life really is up to you.

Those who want to have fun telling stories and enjoy writing fiction will at least try WITD, and those who would rather “suffer for their art” blah blah blah won’t.

Difficult as it is for some to believe, becoming a prolific professional fiction writer really is simple:

1. Trust what you’ve learned consciously over the years from school and subconsciously from TV, movies, reading others’ fiction, etc.

2. Trust your characters to tell the story that they, not you, are living. And

3. Do your best to follow Heinlein’s Rules 1-4. (Rule 5 really is a no-brainer, isn’t it? Once it’s published, don’t take it down. Duh.)

In other words, just let go and write. It most definitely does NOT take a village.

One other note—many (I assume and hope) are taking advantage of my free, dowloadable, searchable Journal Archives. If you don’t have them yet, you can find them at https://hestanbrough.com/the-daily-journal-archives/.

When you’re in the mood to learn, for more craft- and publishing-related posts you might also want to visit https://harveystanbrough.com/category/pro-writers/. This is not something I’ve talked a lot about.

Some of the posts aren’t relevant (book giveaways, posts about Dean’s sales, etc.) but most of them are about craft. And remember that if you’re looking for a particular topic (setting, characters, five senses, etc.) you can key that into the Search box in the sidebar.

I hope to go through those posts myself soon and create another searchable PDF archive that you can download free, but I suggest you shouldn’t wait for me to do that.

With just a little effort you can learn a great deal of information at no cost. Between the craft posts in the Pro Writers category over there and the Journal archives here, you pretty much have access to a free masters’ program in writing fiction.

And trust me, when you finish and If You Apply What You Learn, you will know a great deal more about writing fiction than the average MFA graduate knows.

By the way, I’m testing a new personal schedule at the moment, so I might not post here for a few days. But if I decide to wrap the Journal or radically change the publication schedule (e.g., drop back to posting weekly or less often instead of daily), that probably won’t happen until at least the end of the year.


PG noted that one commenter on a post in The Passive Voice wrote that “English punctuation is a mess.”

I agree, but that’s because in school—even in creative writing classes—we’re taught to REACT to punctuation as readers, not to wield it as a tool to direct the reading of our work. If you think about it, you know that’s true.

If you want the only book that teaches punctuation as something to actively use instead of something to decipher and fear, pick up a copy of Punctuation for Writers, second edition. You can read about it or buy it at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00466H138.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Albert Einstein – Imagination For Writers and Other Good Stuff” at https://killzoneblog.com/2022/12/albert-einstein-imagination-for-writers-and-other-good-stuff.html.

See “And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/and-dont-start-sentences-with-a-conjunction/. Frankly, this is stupid. You can’t start a sentence with a conjunction. You can start a sentence FRAGMENT with a conjunction, and in fiction sometimes that’s exactly the right thing to do. Because That’s How People Speak.

See “Coordinating vs. Subordinating Conjunctions” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/auto-draftcoordinating-vs-subordinating-conjunctionsauto-draft/.

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 730 words

Writing of Santa Fe (novel, tentative title)

Day 1…… 3877 words. Total words to date…… 3877
Day 2…… 3460 words. Total words to date…… 7337
Day 3…… 2011 words. Total words to date…… 9348
Day 4…… 1050 words. Total words to date…… 10398
Day 5…… 3673 words. Total words to date…… 14071
Day 6…… 2501 words. Total words to date…… 16572

Total fiction words for November……… 53449
Total fiction words for the year………… 214974
Total nonfiction words for December… 730
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 198810
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 413784

Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 2
Calendar Year 2022 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2022 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 68
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: In this blog I have shared my experiences, good and bad, as a prolific professional fiction writer. Because It Makes Sense, I trust my characters to tell the story that they, not I, are living. This greatly increases my productivity and provides the fastest possible ascension along the learning curve of Craft because I get a great deal more practice at actually writing.

10 thoughts on “A Good Question, and Punctuation”

  1. Reading this blog has become an afternoon ritual for me everyday. I appreciate all the insight and knowledge you’ve shared, Harvey. While I still read Dean Wesley Smith’s blog, I don’t get as much insight on craft as before.

    I’m incredibly grateful for your ongoing commentary and lessons. If you do decide to stop blogging, then thank you for giving beginning writers like me the resources and courage to trust ourselves as we build our careers as fiction writers.

  2. Thanks for writing a longer post about this, Harvey. I know that whatever you choose to do with the Journal in the future, the archives will always be there and for that I am so grateful! Thanks for putting in the work for all those years, posting daily and helping and encouraging us writers! You really have been at it for a long time and if you wanted to end it now and put more time toward your fiction, it would be completely understandable. After all, there’s nothing better than the joy of running alongside your characters in their stories.

    • Thanks, Chynna. You wrote “there’s nothing better than the joy of running alongside your characters.” Exactly. Never forget that and you’ll be fine.

  3. I can no other comment make but thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks. (With apologies to the Bard.)

    The signal-to-noise ratio on this blog is the highest of all the writing-focused blogs I’ve followed over the years, and it has been one of my favorites since I started reading it. I’m also grateful the archives will be here whenever I want or need a little encouragement.

    • Thanks, Peggy. And do check the Pro Writers category over on the other blog. I might or might not get the archives of that one put together.

  4. Like the others have said thank you for taking the time to write each post and give your knowledge freely Harvey. It’s much appreciated. And thank you for taking the time to reply to my emails and give advice or point things out to me.
    If you do decide to stop the journal, I’ll miss it, but I’ll continue to use the tips and tricks you suggested and dip back in on occasion to reread posts.
    I wish you all the best with your writing in the new year and the years to come.

Comments are closed.