The Daily Journal, Saturday, May 18

In today’s Journal

*My bride and I
*I’ll be glad
*All good fiction
*As I was writing
*Daily diary
*Of Interest
*The numbers

My bride and I have a fun trip planned to Sierra Vista today where we’ll visit an estate sale, then attend a gun show, then visit the commissary to grab some grub, plus lunch somewhere in all that.

So I had a decision to make. So no topic today (Chapter 3 will keep). Instead I’ll write a bit more on the WIP and on this Journal with my available time. Enjoy the respite. (grin)

Just a quick musing — I’ll be glad when/if Dean Wesley Smith gets settled enough into his new home and new routines that he goes back to posting his daily fiction word counts.

In addition to the gems of writing advice he dropped so often in his posts, his word counts were one of the main reasons I checked his blog every day.

And yes, that’s also why I started writing a Daily Journal and it’s why I list my word counts. I don’t really need the external motivation his word counts provided anymore, but in my early days as a pro writer I was SO motivated by his production. His numbers are what fueled my own production, at least up through last month.

I admit I’m kind of taking it easy at the moment. For the first time in five years, I’m not worrying about numbers so much as just enjoying writing my current WIP, visiting with Wes Crowley, and chatting with you all. After this one’s written, I suspect I’ll go back to more production-based writing. Nice to give my mind a break while still writing a novel.

Okay, maybe just a mini-topic, suggested by a recent conversation with a friend.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: All Good Fiction Is Character-Driven.

In every case, regardless of genre, the Story is not about science (SF) or the time period or setting (western, SF, historical fiction), the ticking-bomb (thrillers), the magic (fantasy), etc.

In every case, the Story is about how the characters wield or DEAL WITH the science, the world in which they live, the ticking bomb, the magic etc.

If that weren’t true, there would be no cross-over in genres. SF would be ALL about science, westerns would be ALL about creaking saddle leather and six-guns, fantasy would be ALL about magic, etc.

In other words, they would all be nonfiction.

But since it is true, as a reader maybe consider expanding your reading. A romance that takes place in an action-adventure novel or in a western is still a romance. A lifelong cowboy and lawman is as likely to want to walk onto the creaking deck of a sailing ship as the next guy.

And as a writer, try not to spend any mental energy forcing your “tough guy” to avoid romance, have empathy for others, etc. Let him live to his personal code, whatever it is. Try not to force your “bad guy” to never do a kindness for others, or your “wilting lilly” to never stand up for himself.

Real people are complex. Real characters are too. Just sayin’.

Another very short topic, of sorts — As I was writing, another thought occurred. Cycling isn’t always about reading over what you’ve written and allowing your characters to add things you missed.

Cycling is also about being unstuck in the timeline of your novel.

This morning, as the story developed and I wrote a new scene, a character did something I didn’t expect. (They often do that, and I am endlessly grateful.)

But as a result of him doing something I didn’t expect, I stopped writing, used Word’s Find function to cycle back to a particular place several thousand words earlier in the WIP, and inserted two short sentences that would directly feed the new scene I had just written.

Readers read a novel from A to Z. But the writer can write A through F, then jump back to B to insert something that will foreshadow or add more depth to G (or that will make H possible at all), and then return to the new scene to continue.

As the reader reads, s/he is amazed at how it all worked out, how it fits together so seamlessly. It leaves the reader with the feeling that the writer must be a genius.

But the writer isn’t a genius at all. S/he’s only attentive in listening to his/her characters.

Rolled out at 2:30. To the novel at 4. I added only about 600 words in the first hour. Took a short break up at the house, and when I came back, took a few more minutes to take a couple of pics of moonset over the nearby mountains.

Was headed back to the WIP at 5:15 when I decided to write a 600 word guest post for marketing guru Penny Sansevieri. I got that written and sent off (you’ll see it soon as a topic in the Journal) and then I had a couple of emails to answer.

Back to the WIP at 6:15.

I called it at 6:45 so I could file this edition of the Journal and get ready for the trip. If this were a normal day, I might have dropped 4000 words today. But time off is important too. (grin)

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Message in a Book” at

Fiction Words: 1413
Nonfiction Words: 920 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 2333

Writing of In the Cantina at Noon (novel)

Day 10… 1365 words. Total words to date…… 20874
Day 11… 3696 words. Total words to date…… 24570
Day 14… 1050 words. Total words to date…… 25620
Day 15… 1622 words. Total words to date…… 27242
Day 16… 1413 words. Total words to date…… 28655

Total fiction words for the month……… 28655
Total fiction words for the year………… 290125
Total nonfiction words for the month… 21500
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 133360
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 423485

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 6
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… X
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 43
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 193
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31