On Being Unstuck in Time, a New Template, and More

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Welcome
* Session Three Posted
* A New Short Story, Novella, Novel Template
* Tumbleweed (Russian Thistle) Flowers
* On Being Unstuck in Time in a Novel
* Bradbury Challenge Writers Reporting
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

“I became my own shrink and asked myself, ‘What is your ultimate fear in writing?’ Answer is no one will read my work. Well, no one is reading it when it sits unfinished and/or unpublished, so it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.” Philip “Big Philly” Smith


Welcome to Kimberly S, Hugh W, 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. 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.

If you wanna see my tired old mug, here’s a video where Vin Zandri and I are chatting about writing and a bunch of other stuff.

Session Three Posted

I seem to be in a two-chapters-per day cycle with this novel. I posted a short prologue and the first two chapters three days ago. You can see that session here.

Then two days ago I posted Chapters 3 and 4. You can find that session here.

And yesterday I posted Chapters 5 and 6. You can find that session here.

And no, I won’t be posting info on new sessions every day. (grin) I just wanted to give you a boost in case you wanted to get into this story early.

My streak of 3000+ word days is unbroken since I started my previous novel on October 13, so 17 days so far without a miss. (I only wrote 1307 words on that one to wrap it, but I also wrote another 2830 words that day on “The Hell Minder.”)


A New Short Story, Novella, Novel Template

I’ve come up with a new, simplified template for use with short stories, novellas or novels.

To get it free, simply email me. I encourage those of you who already have the old template to email me to get this new one. It’s much improved.

The template is designed in Microsoft Word 2010. You might have to adjust it to suit your word processor. (I have MS 365, but 2010 still has a spell-checker that, you know, checks spelling.)

I use and recommend Georgia font face (not Georgia Pro) because it’s large and easy to read. Your preferences might differ. Of course, use whatever you ilke.

Tumbleweed (Russian Thistle) Flowers

Anyone out there ever look closely at tumbleweed flowers? They’re so delicate you can’t actually feel the petals when you touch them.

My wife took this picture on Saturday with her phone. I thought I’d share it with you.

On Being Unstuck in Time in a Novel

Each morning after I post the Journal and before I begin writing for the day, I update my reverse outline for yesterday’s writing. I also read through whatever I wrote the previous day, just as a reader, enjoying the story in my creative subconscious.

As I do, my fingers rest on the keyboard and occasionally they move. I allow the characters (not the writer) to add whatever I missed as I ran through the story with the characters.

That’s cycling, a function of the creative subconscious, not “revising,” which is a function of the conscious, critical mind. Despite what some submerged-and-drowning-in-the-myths detractors will tell you, cycling and revising are not the same thing.

I can only do that because I’m unstuck in the timeline of my novel. Not everything you read in any of my novels was written chronologically as the characters and I progressed through the story.

Sometimes as I’m writing I realize something that needed to occur earlier in the story or be foreshadowed.

In the current novel, my protagonist and POV character Jenna is approaching the gate of a country club. She has donned an accent from the deep South and is dressed alluringly to throw any men she might encounter off their guard.

Of course, men being what we are, it works. But as I was writing the next chapter, she said, “Um, you know everyone can see my face, right?”

Truedat. Everyone she met could still see her rather striking face clearly. So she could be recognized, ID’d on security cameras, and so on. Not a good situation for an assassin.

So I cycled back. In about fifteen words she added a pair of oversized black sunglasses, which she lowers and peers over at one point so a guy can see her eyelashes when she bats them at him. (grin) Yeah. We guys act like that sort of thing has no effect, but it does.

Another example I’ve used many times happened in another novel a long time ago. I don’t even remember the title of the novel.

I was writing along when Aunt Marge heard a sound late at night. A chapter or two later, she confronted a would-be burglar in her living room and pulled a revolver from a pocket of her robe.

What? I didn’t remember her putting the gun in her pocket.

So I cycled back a couple of chapters to when she heard the sound, got out of bed, and put on her robe. Only this time she also reached into the drawer of a nightstand, took out her deceased husband’s revolver, and slipped it into her robe pocket.

She must’ve done so the first time through, but I missed it as we raced through the story. I remember kindly Aunt Marge whispering, “It’s all right, dear.” That was to me, not the burglar.

Of course, any readers of that novel will assume all of that was planned and tightly plotted, but nothing could be further from the truth. The whole thing was written into the dark as the story unfolded.

Again, cycling is maybe a very distant cousin—like a 58th cousin 172 times removed—of revision, but cycling is conducted while you’re still deep in the story and in the character’s head in the creative subconscious.

Revision, editing and rewriting are strictly functions of the conscious, critical voice, and in every case they will take you farther from, not deeper into, the authentic story.

For a great deal more on cycling or on reverse outlines, type either search term into the search box in the sidebar at the Journal website.

Bradbury Challenge Writers Reporting

Anyone can jump in (or jump back in) and join the challenge at any time. Even if you miss a week in your personal challenge and break your streak, you can always jump back in the next week and start a new one.

This is a great way to jumpstart your writing and get more practice pushing down the critical voice.

There’s no cost.

Notice, there’s also no pressure re submitting or publishing. That’s up to you. The point of the challenge is to have fun. Learning to keep track of your writing is a bonus.

During the past week, in addition to whatever other fiction they’re writing, the following writers reported their progress:

Short Fiction

  • Erin Donoho “Santa Monica” 4400 General Fiction
  • Loyd Jenkins “One Night on Dickson Street” 2700 Urban Fantasy
  • George Kordonis “Quest” 1348 Dystopian SF
  • Alexander Nakul “How a she-thief was robbed” 3285 Erotic Fantasy
  • Alexander Nakul “Shelter on the water” 4090 Erotic Fantasy
  • Christopher Ridge “The Violinists” 3300 Horror
  • K.C. Riggs “The Ringer” 4441 Historical Fiction

Longer Fiction

  • Alexander Nakul *Horses of Mayhem* 2372 Historical fantasy (60442 total and complete)

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

Biological Responses to Fear This can only help inform your writing.

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 1010

Writing of Blackwell Ops 13: Jenna Crowley

Day 1…… 3815 words. To date……3815
Day 2…… 3116 words. To date…… 6931
Day 3…… 3090 words. To date…… 10021

Fiction for October…………………… 93582
Fiction for 2023………………………… 311124
Fiction since August 1………………… 196577
Nonfiction for October……………… 28140
Nonfiction for the year……………… 226480
Annual consumable words………… 537544

2023 Novels to Date……………………… 6
2023 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2023 Short Stories to Date……………… 7
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 77
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)…… 235
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.