In today’s Journal
* Free Writer Resources
* Truly Free Stuff Has No Strings
* The Writing
* Of Interest
* The Numbers
Free Writer Resources
It’s been quite a while since I mentioned this, so here it is, new for the folks who haven’t been around the Journal very long, and a reminder for everyone else:
To explore a ton of free writer resources, visit my author site at HarveyStanbrough.com.
I suggest starting at Writer Downloads (https://harveystanbrough.com/downloads/) for some quick PDF freebies. Browse the list and download what you want. You can read it later. It’s all free, most of it’s fun, and some is enlightening.
At the next tab, Writer Resources, you will find hundreds of recommended listings for everything from reference and research sources (Conversion Tools, Dictionaries and translators, free stock images for covers, etc.) to advice from Helpful Organizations and Pro Writer Websites to specific topics, interviews, marketing and much, much more.
Everything on that page is also free except my audio lectures, which I offer for ridiculously low fees.
And most important of all for fiction writers who are serious about the craft, be sure to visit and download the Free Archives (in searchable PDF format) and the other free gifts at https://hestanbrough.com/the-daily-journal-archives-gifts-dvds/.
Truly Free Stuff Has No Strings
I only wish such freebies as those above had been available to me when I started out, either at the very beginning back in the 1960s or in 2014 when I started writing fiction in earnest.
I would have loved to have an archive of Dean Wesley Smith’s posts back when he was posting regularly about writing, say 2014 to 2016 and earlier, instead of doing promotion. You can get a lot of info from him by buying his books or workshops, of course, but not free in downloadable, searchable archives.
Almost all of my own offerings are free, but please don’t be stupid enough to equate “free” with a lack of quality or value.
There really are only two ways to write fiction:
- You can follow the herd and buy into the silly, unreasoning fears and the ridiculous, self-deprecating belief that you are incapable of writing so much as a quality short story all by yourself, or
- You can believe in yourself, learn new information to fill any gaps in your abilities or knowledge, and Just Write the Story.
In other words, you have choices:
- You can live in fear, or you can laugh at the fear-and-myth mongers and and refuse to live in fear.
- You can make fiction writing drudgery and show everyone how very precious you are to have answered the “calling” to be a writer, or you can enjoy fiction writing as a fun release.
- You can write drab, boring stories in which the reader will know in advance what’s about to happen all the way through (because if you can plan something, so can the reader), or you can write in your unique, original authorial voice—the very thing every publisher out there says they want. Ironic, isn’t it? (grin)
If you want to stifle your original voice and sound exactly like everybody else, you can find the fear-based myths all over the internet and in literally hundreds of how-to books on writing. You can also take online courses, or even MFA programs in college.
They all teach generally the same thing: You the individual are not capable. You the individual cannot produce quality stories by yourself. Folks, that is unmitigated baloney.
Oddly, despite the glut of those books and courses on the market, they cover only about six topics: plotting, revising, soliciting critiques, rewriting, finding beta readers and/or editors, and polishing.
And the authors of those books and courses all copy each other, so they aren’t even offering you an original OPINION. Think about that.
The people who sell those books will also charge you an arm and a leg to sell you exactly the same bullsh*t in courses and lectures and “developmental” edits or book-doctor services. Exactly the same hot, steamy mushroom fertilizer that all the others are selling.
By comparison, what I teach is a non-process, a Zen-like letting go. You don’t need to plot or plan or outline. You don’t need to revise, rewrite or polish. You DON’T need critical input from anyone, and best of all, it costs you NOTHING.
You don’t even have to buy my books. Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask your questions. Or just download the Journal archives and read through them. Or download them and enter your search terms. The only way I can make it easier for you is to unscrew the top of your head and pour the stuff in, and that ain’t gonna happen.
Just be positive and believe in yourself, that’s all. All you’re doing is telling a story. Nothing more earth-shattering than that. Trust me, you can do it.
Sit down and open a document, put your fingers on the keyboard, and write whatever comes. Trust your characters to convey through you the story that they, not you, are living.
Then spell check it, maybe let a trusted friend read over it for wrong words and other silly errors (no writing advice or “I would have done it this way” allowed), and then publish it and write the next story.
Along the way, learn. Read the work of big-deal writers you admire. Read for fun first. Then go back and study how they used all of the POV character’s physical and emotional senses to pull you into the story.
Learn how to ground the reader and keep him in the story.
Learn how shorter and longer sentences and paragraphs affect the reader emotionally.
Learn pacing, for goodness’ sake.
But above all, learn to trust yourself and your creative subconscious. Learn that you, all by yourself, are a capable entity.
Now, I am not altruistic. I simply like to pass along what I have learned and maybe help others cut their learning curve and shorten their journey to writing without unreasoning fear. Because why not?
Is my knowledge valuable?
To some folks it is, sure. I have a few patrons, and I’ve published a few how-to books. Absolutely none of my how-tos spout the same myths and BS that the hundreds of other how-to books spout. I even cut through all the unnecessary garbage in a thin volume called Punctuation for Writers (2nd edition). Yup. Even mechanics can be simplified and made easy to understand.
Yet thousands or even millions still rush out to buy Strunk & Whites flat-out regurgitation of the same rules of grammar and punctuation that can be found in literally ANY high school or college English textbook.
And get this: NOWHERE in Strunk & Whites or in ANY of those textbooks do the authors tell you, the writer, WHY and HOW punctuation works as it does. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know that? Why do readers react to the various punctuation marks the way they do? How can you as a writer wield punctuation as a tool to direct the reading of your work?
They don’t tell you any of that stuff, probably because they don’t know it themselves. They’re all just mimicking each other. They want you to memorize rules, nothing more.
Well, I’m not a robot. In Punctuation for Writers (2nd edition) I tell you all of that stuff, and even in that slim volume, there’s also a refresher on grammar and syntax.
But Strunk & White’s regurgitation is on almost every writer’s shelf. Oh well. Shrug. Their loss.
I really hope you will download whatever you can get from my sites. It isn’t the typical self-serving garbage you’ll find all over the internet, and as I wrote above, almost all of it is free.
As I also wrote above, that’s strictly because I want to help ease the learning curve for anyone who’s serious about learning the craft of writing.
But hey, if you’d rather, feel free to give your friends that knowing wink and assume that because I’m trying to help and am not charging you an arm and a leg, either
- the information I’m passing along is worthless, or
- I’m trying to scam or con you (somehow, without charging you so much as a penny), or
- I’m trying to take advantage of you in some other way.
Your prerogative. It’s still a free country (well, sort of), so if you think I’m trying to lead you astray, by all means go back to outlining, revising, rewriting, etc. And if it matters, go with my blessing.
Then, at the end of 2023 when I’ve added another 4 or 5 or 8 novels and who knows how many short stories to my totals—and all of that in my unique, original voice instead of planned, revised, rewritten, edited and “polished” to look like everything else in the slush pile—we’ll compare notes and you can tell me how your “process” is working out for you.
Wow. I checked my usual internet rounds and wrote a little on this Journal early, and when the sun came up I got out my new cordless electric mower and mowed probably 4/5ths of the yard.
Someone out on the highway hit a power pole so we lost electricity for about an hour. (It’s always valuable to remember that everything other than food, water, and shelter is a luxury.)
When the electricity came back on I set up a new sprinkler in the back yard and turned it on, then ate a few grilled tortillas for breakfast.
A little later I mowed the rest of the yard, put the mower away, and finished this Journal entry except for the numbers stuff below. So it’s all ready to go.
So I finally turned to the writing ‘puter at around 11 a.m. I was thinking I might explore some of the stuff from the Midnight Sketch story I finished yesterday. Better to look at stuff like that while it’s fresh in my mind, especially because some of it really intrigued me.
Whatever the case, I’ll be writing whatever I write today for the purest possible reason: to find out what happens.
Actually, I changed my mind. I didn’t feel like going into something I’ve already written or started, so I went back to my old formula for a story starter: character with a problem (not “the” problem of the story, just something to get the writing started) in a setting.
I picked Matthew Selim, a young, slender businessman. I was going to have him step out onto the front porch of his house to go to work and realize the lace of one of his shoes was untied. From there I was going to just write whatever came. Um, but—
His wife, Ariel, had other ideas. She took over right from the start, and when I stopped writing due to another obligation I had barely gotten out of the opening.
So we’ll see what happens tomorrow. No pressure, just fun.
Talk with you again soon.
See “Character Type & Trope Thesaurus: Snob” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/character-type-trope-thesaurus-snob/.
The Journal…………………………………… 1830
Writing of “Penthouse Bound”
Day 1…… 1485 words. Total words to date…… 1485
Writing of “Untitled Stern Talbot Mystery”
Day 1…… 190 words. Total words to date…… 190
Writing of Rose Padilla (WCG10SF5)
Day 1…… 4283 words. Total words to date…… 4283
Day 2…… 3963 words. Total words to date…… 8246
Day 3…… 1463 words. Total words to date…… 9709
Day 4…… 2445 words. Total words to date……12154
Total fiction words for August……… 9494
Total fiction words for 2023………… 124041
Total nonfiction words for August… 3570
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 153470
Total fiction words since August 1…… 9494
Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 277511
Calendar Year 2023 Novels to Date…………………… 2
Calendar Year 2023 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2023 Short Stories to Date………… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………… 73
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………… 221
Short story collections…………………………………………. 31
Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark, adherence to Heinlein’s Rules, and that following the myths of fiction writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.