Flash Sale (Redux) and The Writing

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Welcome
* Flash Sale
* The Value of Letting the Characters Tell the Story
* The Writing
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself.” Potter Stewart

“No matter where you turn, the myths are there. Whether in professional circles or in hobbyist ones.” Matthew Gordon Pettipas, talking about the prevalence of the myths even among fanfic writers

My response: Yep. That’s the frustration I bear. You can talk ’til you’re blue in the face and offer a chain-breaking technique that costs absolutely nothing and will enable writers to write both More and Better stories, and they just turn away, arms folded over their chest, like you’re trying to put one over on them. Sigh.


Welcome to Timothy B and any other new readers or subscribers 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.

Flash Sale

My latest novel, Blackwell Ops 18: Soleada Garcia: Settled, is available now for advance orders at both Amazon and wherever else ebooks are sold.

HOWEVER, the novel is also a prime example of the concepts I explained in my post “What I Learned from the King”.

So until the book goes live, I’m offering it for sale to readers of the Journal for only $3 (50% off). It’s an excellent opportunity to learn first-hand ways to add depth to your writing through both physicality and emotional stress.

If you would like a copy in PDF, .epub, or .mobi to read or study or both, click Donate Here to send $3 via PayPal, debit or credit card, then email me to request your copy. I’ll send it right out.

It is also available to donors free of charge.

The Value of Letting the Characters Tell the Story

I’ve preached for a long time that it’s the characters’ story so the writer should let them tell it. They know the authentic story. The writer doesn’t.

But there are also logical (thinking, reasoning, critical mind) reasons to let the characters tell the story.

You’ve heard that it’s a good idea to “give” your characters a tag phrase or catch phrase, right? Something they repeat now and then, a word or phrase that identifies them?

If you trust the characters and let them tell the story you won’t hae to “give” them anything. Just as characters in “real” life do, they’ll come up with their own catch phrases. By simply being who they are. Without your assistance, they’ll repeat certain words or phrases that readily identify them.

In the short story I just finished (yep, short story. See The Writing), Sam Thurston’s favorite phrase is “And here we are.” It always comes after he delivers a brief rundown of recent events. I doubt he even knows he does it. But there it is. (grin)

The Writing

The first two days of writing on the current novel were short days. I missed my goal on both of them so I could watch four football games. Turns out there was a reason for that.

Just to illustrate that critical mind never goes away completely….

To make matters worse, I let my critical mind slip into the very first chapter to make it “better.” Otherwise I probably would have made my goal on the first day.

That time it was about past tense vs. present tense in a scene. “I” kept flip-flopping. Of course, I should’ve just kept my thoughts to myself. It isn’t “my” story. It’s the characters’ story.

Stupid stuff. Write what the characters give you. Period.

Listen, when you think you’re about to do something to make the writing “better,” that’s a warning signal that you’re actually about to do something stupid. It’s the characters’ story. Let them tell it.

I’ve known that for years, but I ignored the warning. Then yesterday, I caught up with it. Thank goodness for cycling and giving the story back to the characters.

Yesterday, day three, as I cycled through the first chapter, it was ridiculous. I watched and relearned as the character took out a bunch of my words. In the end he removed 282 of them. And the chapter IS “better” now, meaning it’s all from the character again.

Fortunately, I wasn’t that bone-headed when I wrote Chapter 2 or 3, so other than temporarily feeling like a clueless beginner, I’m good to go. (grin)

And as it turned out, I had another short day yesterday. And the Sam Thurston story wrapped as a short story. It’s in Numbers below. It’s the fourth short story in the Blackwell Ops world.

Then something amazing happened.

as it always does when you trust the characters. Of course, I’ve been doing this long enough that I shouldn’t have been surprised or felt amazed. But I did. Characters have a way of doing that when they feel free to do so.

A few days ago, I mentioned that probably any future novels featuring Solana “Soleada” Garcia would be set in the time after she met Charlie Task.

But again, everything’s up to the characters. That’s why I hedged that statememt with “probably.”

Out of the blue yesterday while I was writing the last very short chapter of the short story, Soleada stepped forward again. Again her arms were crossed over her chest and she was frowning. And she said, “Harvey! Aren’t you going to tell them why I stopped swimming?”

If you’ve read her books in the series, youi’ll understand that comment.

I only grinned. “Of course. And it’s good to see you again too.”

So Soleada will begin telling her next story today. So cool!

I’ll talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

Six reasons you’re confusing the reader Again, no worries on this if you trust the characters and just write what they give you. (Um, and he probably means six “ways” you’re confusing the reader.)

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 1000

Writing of Blackwell Ops: Sam Thurston (short story)

Day 1…… 2843 words. To date…… 2843
Day 2…… 2338 words. To date…… 5181
Day 3…… 2284 words. To date…… 7465 (done)

Fiction for January……………………. 80211
Fiction for 2024…………………………. 80211
Fiction since October 1…………… 383256
Nonfiction for January……………… 22580
Nonfiction for 2024…………………… 22580
2024 consumable words…………… 102791

2024 Novels to Date……………………… 2
2024 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2024 Short Stories to Date……………… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 84
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)…… 239
Short story collections…………………… 31

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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.