In today’s Journal
* Quote of the Day
* Server Downtime
* Some Neighbors Are Crashing Bores
* Of Interest
* The Numbers
Quote of the Day
“The drama of [a] scene is enhanced by allowing the thoughts and dialogue to stand out — all by simple paragraphing.” PJ Parrish (see Of Interest)
Welcome to Juan-Pierre and to any other new subscribers or readers of the Journal. I hope you will find it useful.
Be sure to check out the Archives and other free downloads at the Journal website. And I don’t do the ambush thing requiring an email address. Just click the links and a PDF will download in a new page.
And here’s a video where Vin Zandri and I are chatting about writing and a bunch of other stuff.
Apparently beginning shortly after I posted this Journal on 10/16/2023, my webhost (HostMatters.com) suffered a brief period of server downtime, at least on the servers that contain all the information for my sites.
It was an annoying event. I apologize for any inconvenience.
Some Neighbors Are Crashing Bores
A few days ago I left a comment on James Scott Bell’s TKZ post titled “How to Increase Your Productivity When You Don’t Feel Productive.”
Predictably, mixed in with what is probably good advice for some, he mentioned several of the myths of fiction writing in the article. I listed a link to the post in “Of Interest” only in case any of you might learn something from it.
I left the comment only to give any TKZ readers another perpective. Here it is in its entirety:
“For the readers out there…. I sit down at the keyboard, drop a character with a problem (doesn’t have to be ‘the’ problem of the story, that will reveal later) into a setting, and write whatever comes.
“I plan nothing in advance, any more than I would try to plan writing an account of what happens to my neighbor and what he says and does in response. For me that’s worked for over 230 short stories and 76 novels (and counting).”
Yesterday, I received a Talkwalker Alert notifying that Mr. Bell had posted a response. I’m glad he did. His response was terse served as the catalyst for this topic. It read
“Some neighbors are crashing bores.”
I responded with this:
“Yes, of course. But some lead secret lives.”
I should have added (and eventually did) what follows.
Yes, probably some neighbors seem crashing bores from our outsider, superficial perpective. But how well do we know our neighbors? Do some of them possibly lead secret lives we know nothing about? Actually, all of them do.
The truth is, we know our neighbors about as well as we know our characters from that same surface perspective. But that’s before we dive into their lives and follow them around for awhile, running through their story with them.
And that’s my whole point. If the characters (or neighbors) never notice my presence, then I don’t affect how their story unfolds. I’m simply their Recorder, or as Stephen King refers to himself, “my characters’ stenographer.”
When I approach fiction writing from that perspective — not having donned glowing Authorial Robes and not controlling every action and every word of dialogue in their story — the story unfolds as it should, naturally and in the characters’ own voices, unencumbered by my own.
Even the stories of the most seemingly boring characters (and neighbors) are actually far more interesting than if I had forced my perception and expectations on them.
I never experience the fear of a story not being “perfect” because every reader’s perception of perfection is different. I only convey the story truthfully as it unfolds and let the readers decide.
And while others are planning and plotting and outlining and revising and receiving input from critique groups and rewriting, I’m putting new words on the page at a rate of about 3000 clean, publishable words per day.
Best of all, for me writing fiction isn’t laborious in the slightest. It isn’t a set of steps to follow and fears to obey. To the contrary, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had.
But to the presentation of the characters’ story — Should we learn more about structure and hooks and cliffhangers and pacing and all the rest?
Of course. Despite what some would have you believe, I have never advocated not learning the craft and building on what you know.
But we’ve also been absorbing Story all our lives from television (and some of us, radio) and music and films and short stories and novels.
Of course we should augment all that with more knowledge.
But we should also trust what we know. And most importanly, we should practice. And practice in writing doesn’t mean standing still or hovering. It means putting new words on the page.
Talk with you again soon.
The Most Potent Little Gadget In Your Writer’s Toolbox Good information.
The Journal……………………………… 820
Writing of Blackwell Ops 12: Nick Soldata (novel)
Day 1…… 3683 words. To date…… 3683
Day 2…… 3186 words. To date…… 6869
Day 3…… 3315 words. To date…… 10184
Day 4…… 3260 words. To date…… 13444
Day 5…… 3175 words. To date…… 16619
Fiction for October…………………… 48659
Fiction for 2023………………………… 266201
Fiction since August 1………………… 151654
Nonfiction for October……………… 15180
Nonfiction for the year……………… 213520
Annual consumable words………… 479661
2023 Novels to Date……………………… 5
2023 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2023 Short Stories to Date……………… 6
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 76
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)…… 234
Short story collections…………………… 31
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 will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.
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