Practice Exercise, Keep Coming Back, and Thank You

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* A Valuable Practice Exercise
* Vin Again, and Keep Coming Back
* I’m a Fortunate Guy
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” Kurt Vonnegut

“On this day September 12 in 1817, 81-year-old John Adams had a great excuse for not writing someone back sooner. He opened his letter with, ‘The procrastination of old age and the dissipation of the month of August must be my apologies for neglecting your important letter of July, to this day.’
In other words, sorry for the delay—it’s hot and I’m old.” As reported by Mona S. (grin)

A Valuable Practice Exercise

Yesterday in “Of Interest” I mentioned that finishing someone else’s story or novel was a great way to practice taking that writer’s “voice” on board. Of course, you would be enthralled with the way that writer writes and want to learn pretty much by osmosis from him or her.

If you love a writer’s work, writing a new ending is an excellent practice exercise, especially if you enjoyed the story but wish the ending was different.

You might want to practice with Hemingway or with Zandri or Cussler or whomever else. And I’m no hypocrite. I don’t mind if you practice on my work.

For example, if you enjoyed the Wes Crowley series but absolutely hate what happened with Coralín late in Book 10 of the original saga (so did I, but that’s what happened), The Right Cut, feel free to use it as an exercise.

You don’t have to tell whatever writer you use to practice because the exercise is only for your own edification.

Here’s one way to do that:

1. First read and reread the story until you get into the flow of it. The flow gives you the feel of the writer’s style.

2. Type-in (preferred) or copy and paste the short story or the last chapter or two (but only up to the point where you disliked the ending) into Word or your chosen word processor. Now you have an unfinished story or novel.

3. With your fingers resting on the keyboard, read over again what you typed-in or pasted. Allow the characters to make changes here and there as necessary.

4. When you reach the white space, keep typing. Let the story unfold as you run through it with the characters.

Before you ask, yes, this will work for any genre, even literary. (For magic realism, I strongly recommend Isabelle Allende or Gabriel Garcia Márquez.)

Of course, when you’ve finished the new twist or new ending, you can’t publish what you’ve written. That would be plagiarism, and you would never do that, right?

But you will have advanced in your writing, maybe a lot. I’ve done this three or four times both before and during my fiction writing career. It was easily among the easiest and best learning experiences I’ve ever experienced as a writer.

Vin Again, and Keep Coming Back

As many of you know, “keep coming back” has been my mantra ever since I started writing fiction.

Yesterday I watched and listened to Vin Zandri’s short but excellent broadcast on writing sprints (see “Of Interest”) and commented on it:

“Re your writing method, yep. I’ve long preached ‘Keep coming back’ if you want to be productive.”

Vin replied, “Gospel.”

As usual, he and I are in perfect sync.

If you want to increase your daily production, write when you can, then take a break or go do necessary stuff.

But later in the day as you are able, come back and pick up where you left off. Even if you believe you’re “stuck” or whatever. At the end of the day, you will be amazed at your word count.

I’m a Fortunate Guy

I’m fortunate my mind works the way it does. I hope all of you have characters just pop-in on you from time to time with a line of dialogue or, more rarely, a bit of an action scene. Either of those is a legit, and usually strong, story starter.

I know that probably not all of you think that way because it wasn’t always the case for me. I was born with some of it, but I picked up most of it through practice.

Also, our personal situations vary. Many writers are necessarily attached-to or grounded-in a lot of non-writing events and occasions. Jobs, rearing minor children, and so on.

But other than the occasional shopping trip, routine chores and so on, all of those things are in the past for me. For the most part, I can spend as much or as little time at my writing ‘puter — or at my business computer answering emials and writing items for the Journal — as I want to.

Some of you have helped make that possible, especially my donors and those who share the Journal with other writers who haven’t subscribed yet.

Of course, a tip of the hat also to those readers who spread the word about my Wes Crowley novels or my SF series or action-adventure crime-thriller Blackwell Ops series. Every little bit helps, and as the old saying goes, A rising tide lifts all boats.

So all of the preceeding is to say a big Thank You for helping enable my own personal dream life: writing fiction and passing along what I learn to other writers.

If you get something of value from the Journal or from my usually quick responses to your emails — and if you are able — please consider visiting the Donations page and contributing any amount, either as a one-time donation or as a recurring monthly donation. You who donate help keep the Journal free in perpetuity.

If you aren’t able to do that, please consider sharing the Journal with other writers who haven’t yet seen the clear, myth-free light. (grin) To do that, you only have to click the Share This Post button at the bottom of this message.

And either way, thank you again for being out there. I am priveleged to know you. I’m in great company among you, and you are the gentle wind at my back.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Writing Sprints, Writing Lectures, and the Future of the Writer’s Life” at https://vincentzandri.substack[dot]com/p/writing-sprints-writing-lectures. Lecture series I mentioned yesterday should be live on his website today or tomorrow. Worth holding off to save $20.

See “Lost Words” at I was a little distressed to realize I still use some of these words and phrases. (grin)

See “Unlocking Amazon A+ Content for Books: The Ultimate Handbook” at This is a really great post.

See “UFO expert unveils ‘alien corpses’ in Mexico Congress” at

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 1120

Writing of Blackwell Ops 10: Jeremy Stiles
The Way Things Go

Day 1…… 1635 words. To date…… 1635
Day 2…… 2464 words. To date…… 4099
Day 3…… 1615 words. To date…… 5714
Day 4…… 3808 words. To date…… 9522
Day 5…… 2057 words. To date…… 11579
Day 6…… 3563 words. To date…… 15142
Day 7…… 1881 words. To date…… 17023
Day 8…… 3047 words. To date…… 20070

Fiction for September…………………… 32052
Fiction since August 1………………… 94374
Fiction for 2023………………………… 184361
Nonfiction for September……………… 10920
Nonfiction for the year……………… 185390
Annual consumable words………… 369751

2023 Novels to Date……………………… 3
2023 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2023 Short Stories to Date……………… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 74
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)… 232
Short story collections…………………… 31

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.

8 thoughts on “Practice Exercise, Keep Coming Back, and Thank You”

  1. Some years ago, I wrote my own list chapter to a book that had been good until then. I never thought about learning, but I did. I was motivated by knowing the ending could be better.

    • Yes sir. I’ve done that several times to some books by authors everyone has heard of. And now that you know it works, you can do it again purposefully. 🙂

    • Thanks, Rikki. True ‘dat. My mistake. Because the accent is on the next to the last syllable of Garcia, it needs the acute accent mark over the i. But if you Google him, even the name with no accent marks will do.

      But a quick fix back at you: With no accent marks, the accent falls on the last syllable. So wihtout the acute accent mark, his middle name would be pronounced GarciA.

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