Critical Mind Seeped In

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Welcome
* Critical Mind Seeped In
* Yesterday, and the Writing
* Stanbrough Writing In Public
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“When comparing two things, one thing is different FROM the other, whereas when comparing two actions, one action is different THAN the other.. An elephant is different from a mouse, while hunting an elephant is different than hunting a mouse.” In a note from my excellent first reader

“I have said over and over again that I write by
instinct and that there is nothing purposeful or deliberate in what I do.” Isaac Asimov

“Hypocrisy is not a way of getting back to the moral high ground. Pretending you’re moral, saying you’re moral is not the same as acting morally.” Alan Dershowitz


Welcome to Benjamin, Amelia, and any other new subscribers or readers of the Journal. I hope you will find it useful.

Get the Archives and other free downloads at the Journal website. Just click the links and a PDF will download in a new page.

I also recommend reading the posts “I Believe in You” and “Fear”. Can’t hurt, and it might help.

Oh, and check out this half-hour video where bestselling author Vin Zandri and I are chatting about writing on The Writer’s Life.

Critical Mind Seeped In

Here, learn along with me as I learn:

There’s an old “rule” that says if your novel has a prologue, it must also have an epilogue. That is one more annoying myth. And my critical mind latched onto it like a robotic fist.

Yesterday after applying the excellent suggestions Russ (my first reader) sent me, I emailed him again. He hadn’t mentioned anything about the ending feeling weak or flat. So I complained to him that, to me, the ending felt flat somehow.

But a few minutes after I sent that email, without having received a reply, my creative subconscious kicked-in again. The ending of the story — the last sentence of the chapter that preceded the epilogue — was great. Duh.

So I deleted the epilogue and allowed the story to close where it tried to close before I forced the epilogue on it.

But don’t I have to end with an epilogue if I begin with a prologue?

Um, no.

That was the question I asked without even noticing at first (critical mind) that almost steered me wrong. As I mentioned awhile back, if you have to ask, you probably already know the answer. That knowing is a function of the creative mind.

The story required a prologue to allow a minor POV character to introduce the story. To explain the why of the story without an info dump.

But that character didn’t appear as a POV character the rest of the way through the novel. It wasn’t his story. Hence the prologue.

As my characters’ stories always do, this one actually ended — well, when it naturally ended. Then I added that stupid epilogue in an attempt to adhere to a rule that makes no sense. Not every egg is comfortably nested.

I also realized that one of the two main POV characters of the NEXT novel, which I started yesterday, started that story with the same information I had tried to brush into an epilogue in the previous story.

I’m just glad the characters called me on it. The epilogue in the previous book served no purpose. If I had left it in, it might have annoyed readers with a boring finale. And it would have been stolen from the next story, which at that point the characters hadn’t started yet.

So the lesson? As always, write what the characters give you as you race through the story with them. Don’t add (or subtract) anything on your own.

Other than your role as your characters’ faithful recorder, the story is none of your business. Including how it begins or ends.

Yesterday, and the Writing

First, if you are interested in Hugh Everett and the development of his “many worlds interpretation,” Alexander Nakul offered this PDF document in a comment. He said the article shows the story behind the theory.

Yesterday, I applied the excellent suggestions I received from my first reader, then published Blackwell Ops 15 to Draft2Digital and Amazon. You can see the cover and description at StoneThread Publishing.

Afterward. I uploaded several more short stories into the magazine (yep, a gun reference) to my Stanbrough Writes substack (a free story every Friday). I’m good now through March 1.

Then finally, around 7:30 a.m., I turned to my writing ‘puter and started the next novel. The numbers are below.

Stanbrough Writing In Public

I’m seriously considering discontinuing my Writing in Public substack.

As I was writing Terea-Garcia yesterday, I was thinking about adding it to the SWIP substack. For one thing, I think the largest readership I had there was 13 people or something. And pretty much nobody was recommending it.

But my biggest reason for shutting it down is that it doesn’t pass the WIBBOW test, first put into words (to my knowledge) by a writer named Scott Carpenter: Would I Be Better Off Writing.

Only spending time with my wife or a visiting offspring ever passes that test.

On many occasions when I posted two or three novels there, I found myself (foolishly, in hindsight) stopping writing an hour or so early so I could prep what I’d written and post it to that substack.

For a fiction writer — at least this fiction writer — that was an insane thing to do.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

A Brief 200-Year History of Synesthesia Thanks to KC

Dune Part 2 The interesting orgins of Dune and Frank Herbert

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 950

Writing of Tarea-Garcia 1

Day 1…… 4968 words. To date…… 4968

Fiction for December…………………… 54019
Fiction for 2023…………………………. 454853
Fiction since August 1………………… 340308
Nonfiction for December……………… 10410
Nonfiction for the year……………… 265990
Annual consumable words………… 717336

2023 Novels to Date……………………… 10
2023 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2023 Short Stories to Date……………… 7
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 81
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)…… 235
Short story collections…………………… 31

Note: If you find this Journal of value and want to make a one time or recurring donation, please do not pledge through Substack. I don’t use Stripe. Instead click this link. If you can’t donate, please consider sharing this post with friends.

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.

2 thoughts on “Critical Mind Seeped In”

  1. I find critical voice comes for me most at the beginning of stories. Sometimes it will attack how I opened things up, saying the usual things such as it sucks. Its horrible, no one will read past the first page and so on.
    Once I’m past the first few pages I’m always good. I still have critical voice moments but they are much easier to crush once the momentum is established.

    • Great point. For me, every novel I’ve written, in or out of series, has written differently. CV trying to actually add words had never happened before. But thankfully it visits me very seldom these days.

Comments are closed.