Murder, and a Litte More on Openings

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Correction
* A New Short Story
* The Novel
* A Little More on Openings
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

“Writing is like any other art form. It is consuming and doesn’t much care about clocks.” Dean Wesley Smith

Correction

One astute reader pointed out that In yesterday’s Of Interest, I failed to make the link to Vin Zandri’s YouTube video live. I’ve corrected that oversight in Of Interest in today’s edition.

A New Short Story

“The Ethics of Murder” went live yesterday on my Stanbrough Writes Substack. Go check it out.

This story is also a good one to look at for my recent topic about writing openings.

The opening of this one runs 945 words of this 3800 word story. The opening ends with “…any one of them might do for a living what I do for a living.”

That line is also a strong, in-story cliffhanger. It both ends the opening and sets up the hook (“But probably not”) and the plot, which again, is not something you plan in advance.

As Ray Bradbury famously said, Plot is the footprints the characters leave as they run through the story.

There are other mini-openings and other in-text cliffhangers and hooks in the story too. See if you can spot them.

Hint: the mini-opening is always immediately after a change in the “camera angle” and is rich with description. (Can you “see, hear, etc.” the scene?)

The cliffhanger is always a short, terse sentence or sentence fragment.

The hook is always a short, dramatic sentence.

But of course, read the story just for pleasure first. For entertainment. And as always, if you enjoy the story, tell Everyone. If you don’t, shhh! (grin)

The Novel

Wow. For the first time since mid-2021 (I believe) it’s taking me longer than 14 days to write a novel. Yeah, I’m just anal enough that I checked. (grin)

Basic math isn’t everything in writing, but it’s important. I like to know where I stand. Knowing where I stand production-wise enables me to set or adjust my goals and motivates me to keep telling stories.

That said, I’ve surpassed my daily word-count goal of 4000 words per day only once on this novel, way back on writing day 5. All the other days have been not even close, in the 1000s or 2000s.

Of course, I don’t consider missing my daily goal a failure. Or at worst, when I miss it I still “fail to success” since I have 1000 or 2000 more words at the end of the day than I would have if I hadn’t written at all on that day. (grin)

But even with all low-production days, the story itself is still frenzied, free flowing, and racing along. Therefore writing it is still a great deal of fun.

And it’s SO worth it. I’ve learned or realized a ton while writing this one, and of course I’ve passed most of that on to you here in TNDJ.

When I stumble or trip over a rock on the trail, I figure it’s a good idea to let the folks following me know where the rock is. 🙂

A Little More on Openings

Well, not openings, really, but detail. Openings are created of detail, right?

The POV character doesn’t stop noticing details when the opening ends. And as I said yesterday, what s/he notices and how s/he notices it (in real-time or memories, etc.) depends on whatever psychological baggage s/he’s carrying, good or bad.

It also depends on the character of the character as well as his or her closely held beliefs and so on. Which means you can hint at the character of the character through his or her description of the details. More nuance.

So in a way, you actually extend the opening through the whole chapter, scene, or story—with the application of new details and with hints at them now and then to bring the reader along with the POV character.

In yesterday’s post, I also mentioned one major setting of my current novel—the root cellar—and two of its significant aspects: the darkness and the smell of rotting red onions.

I also wrote that those details are mentioned in some way in subsequent openings each time the root cellar is the setting of a new chapter or scene.

But each time any character even thinks about the cellar or mentions it, one or both of those details about the cellar appears again. Just as a gentle, almost subliminal reminder to the reader of those aspects.

I realize this and the previous two or three posts are heavy on nuance rather than mechanics, but the use of nuance is what elevates a story to a seamless reading experience for the reader.

Also, nuance (along with realistic, natural dialogue) is what keeps the reader “in” the story with the characters.

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Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

What Is A Weekend?

The RPG Scene! Scroll to about 8:03 for a good tip on writing books with high-action.

This is from my buddy, bestseling author Vin Zandri. Or as Raymond Chandler once famously put it, “When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.” (Nah. Have a man “bust” through the door with a gun in his hand. Right? Right?)

Remember, this is all conscious mind learning. As I always recommend, when you’re actually writing, apply with the creative subconscious.

Everything is a Western More from Vin, but not quite as in-depth as yesterday. Scroll to about 1:50 for the meat.

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 920

Writing of When the Owl Calls (novel)

Day 11…. 1960 words. To date…… 25912
Day 12…. 2157 words. To date…… 28069
Day 13…. 2122 words. To date…… 30191
Day 14…. 2254 words. To date…… 32445
Day 15…. 1594 words. To date…… 34039

Fiction for June…………………….….… 14457
Fiction for 2024…………………………. 355054
Fiction since October 1………………… 658111
Nonfiction for June……………………… 7820
Nonfiction for 2024…………………… 191450
2024 consumable words……………… 546504

2024 Novels to Date……………………… 8
2024 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2024 Short Stories to Date……………… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)……………… 90
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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