A New Book, and a Trick Question

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Bradbury Challenge Reminder
* I Was Reminded Yesterday
* A Trick Question
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“Not at all sure why this idea of writing at Pulp Speed sort of hits me right. I think because it flies in the face of all the myths.” Dean Wesley Smith (see Of Interest)

“Talking about snowflake method (you mentioned it about 2 years ago) I would say that it doesn’t work even for the author of it. Looks like the last fiction from this author was published 10 years ago.” Rikki Mongoose, in a comment on “The Problems that Result from Outlining Novels.”

Bradbury Challenge Reminder

Today is Sunday. You who are in or want to join the challenge, please be sure to get your story info in to me before the Journal goes live on Monday.

Setting a Sunday night midnight (or earlier in the week) personal deadline is the easiest way to ensure that.

Remember, the whole point of the challenge is to have fun and grow as a writer even as you expand your IP inventory. (grin)

I Was Reminded Yesterday

Seems all I’ve talked about for a long time in this Journal are Blackwell Ops novels.

But as I was reminded yesterday by Amazon with the release of a new Omnibus Collection (7 novels and novellas), I write a lot more than that.

Stern Talbot, PI: The Omnibus Collection is available for $24.99 through Amazon and other venues.

BUT it’s also available at StoneThread Publishing for only $20. So if you want it, save money and shop direct.

In addition to Blackwell Ops thrillers, I also write other thrillers, action-adventures, westerns, SF novels, mysteries, and magic realism. If any of those genres interest you as a reader, visit StoneThread Publishing and check them out.

See for yourself whether I practice what I preach in the Journal. (grin)

A Trick Question

This is another old topic I believe I never posted.

A good while back, I received what amounted to a trick question, though I don’t believe the “trick” aspect was intentional:

“Just curious. You talk a good deal about trusting your characters. Have you ever had a character mislead or betray you?

“I’m not referring to The Bad Guy who’s supposed to be shifty and cruel, but a character who leads you on a fool’s errand, diverting or weakening the story. In other words, wasting your time and causing plot problems, rendering the tale waterered down or just plain stupid.”

Okay, first, the characters are living the story as it unfolds, so they can’t “divert or weaken” the story. The story is their life, so it’s simply what happens. The characters don’t plot anymore than I do.

They might make plans that go awry, just as we make plans that go awry in our own lives, but they don’t do so intentionally anymore than we do.

Second, they can’t “divert or weaken” what’s going on around them. Like we do in our own lives, when unexpected things happen they can only react.

And third, a character can never waste your time. Only you can do that, and writers do it most often by attempting to force themselves on the story through character sketches, plotting and planning in advance what will happen (that’s just crazy) and so on. That wastes a ton of time they could have spent writing.

So short answer is No.

But in every story or novel I’ve written, characters have said or done things I didn’t expect. Which is wonderful. Witnessing the story first hand as it unfolds around me is what makes writing fiction so much fun.

For just one example, in one of my Crowley novels, a group of Texas Rangers were charging a bad guy, and he’d turned his horse and was charging them.

He planned to go out in a blaze of glory or something (he survived, for awhile) but at the last second, just as he fired, he recognized one of the Rangers personally. The Ranger he recognized used to be his friend and partner in crime, albeit a young, naive one.

Before that Ranger had become a Ranger, he was a budding bad guy. And he and the current bad guy, during a drunken stupor, had broken into the back of a bank to burgle it. But the bank was still open. Naturally the two men were caught.

I honestly don’t remember how they became separated, but one left, wandered awhile, changed his name and joined the Rangers (and he was a good one) and the other guy did some time and became a hard-core outlaw.

Had you told me that Ranger used to be a beginner outlaw I never would have believed it. But the thing is, that’s who he actually was. Just nobody knew it up to that point. (And he fessed-up before he died.)

Here’s the thing about trusting the characters: You’re writing what they’re living, right? Well, you can’t write it until it happens.

If you’re writing what they’re living, it’s unfolding as you’re writing it. Their story is happening as you run through it with them. So naturally, surprises will happen.

If you are true to the story, which means being true to (and trusting) the characters, you will take the surprises in stride as something that simply happened, and you will write them along with the rest of the story.

Consider—Even if you try to write your own life, unexpected things will happen, things you could never have foreseen until they happened.

So you can’t write them until they happen, right?

It’s exactly the same thing with writing my characters’ story. So the characters can’t mislead me or themselves or anyone else because their life (story) is simply happening as I’m recording it.

Had I said, “Yes, the characters sometimes mislead me,” that would necessarily mean they and I had some idea of what was going to happen next, and neither of us do.

We’re simply running through the story together. They are living it, and I’m experiencing it first hand, albeit as an outsider. A recorder.

But then, that’s why the stories I put on the screen are so authentic. They’re happening in real time as I’m trying to keep up and write them.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

Pulp Speed Post is Back!

What Really Killed Robin Williams It’s not what you think.

Publishers are scouring the world of fan fiction…

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 1080

Writing of Blackwell Ops 24: Buck Jackson Returns (tentative title)

Day 1…… 3724 words. To date…… 3724
Day 2…… 3706 words. To date…… 7430
Day 3…… 2110 words. To date…… 9540
Day 4…… 3243 words. To date…… 12783
Day 5…… 1606 words. To date…… 14389

Fiction for April…………………….….… 50650
Fiction for 2024…………………………. 276442
Fiction since October 1………………… 579498
Nonfiction for April……………………… 17560
Nonfiction for 2024……………………… 146280
2024 consumable words……………… 422722

2024 Novels to Date……………………… 7
2024 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2024 Short Stories to Date……………… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)……………… 89
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……… 239
Short story collections…………………… 29

Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark and adherence to Heinlein’s Rules. Unreasoning fear and the myths of writing are lies, and they will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.

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