The Daily Journal, Sunday, February 3

Hey Folks,

In today’s Journal

▪ On the challenge
▪ A brief topic on Productivity and Being Prolific
▪ Topic on What to Require of a First Reader
▪ The daily diary
▪ Of Interest
▪ The numbers

On the challenge, the good news is, after today I still have 1 day in the bank on my challenge. The bad news is I have only 1 day  in the bank.

Not that I’m complaining At All.

But what can be foreseen can be remedied. So in the back of my mind is the determination to spend a lot of time in the chair once I get going again, with the hope of putting more days in the bank. (grin)

However, I can spend only so many hours in the chair today, and most of those have gone into things other than fiction.

Brief Topic: Productivity and Being Prolific

Productivity and being so-called “prolific” is all just numbers, folks. There is no such thing as “fast” writing. Seriously. There is only the number of hours you dedicate to the chair.

If I spent only 60 hours per year writing a 60,000 word novel (so one novel per year), I wouldn’t be considered prolific.

If I spent 60 hours every six months writing a novel (so two 60,000 word novels in a year), some would call me prolific.

If I spend 60 hours every two weeks writing a novel (26 novels per year), I’m considered hyper-prolific by some.

And that’s still only a 30-hour work week. Compared with almost any of the old pulp writers, I’m pretty much a slacker.

See? Numbers.

Topic: What to Require of a First Reader

I think I wrote about this a long while ago, but it wouldn’t hurt to touch on it again.

This isn’t only what I need from a first reader, but what any writer should require.

First, what writers don’t want:

▪ We don’t want to know how you would have written the story. Save that for your peer critique groups.

▪ We don’t want you to suspect or critique our political or religious beliefs. More than likely, what you read in the book are the beliefs of the characters, not the writer.

▪ We don’t want you to criticize any “bad” language. Unless you see it as gratuitous and unnecessary to the tension of the scene. In that case, you can mention it, but don’t wear out the topic. Again, it’s probably in dialogue and therefore belongs to the character, not the writer.

▪ We don’t want lessons in grammar and sentence construction. For example, we don’t want a discussion of how many times we used “that” vs. “which.” (They aren’t interchangeable.)

▪ We don’t want you to tell us not to begin a sentence with And or But (unless it’s done so often that it disrupts your reading). It’s called a sentence fragment, and it happens often in great fiction, in both dialogue and narrative.

Here’s what writers DO want:

▪ Read for pleasure, period. You’re a first reader, not a first critiquer. Read as a reader. Expect to enjoy the story.

▪ If necessary, read it twice: once strictly for pleasure, and the second time to point out where we went “wrong.”

▪ If, as you’re reading for pleasure, you aren’t able to finish for any reason (in the story), let us know that. Let us know where and why.

▪ If, as you’re reading for pleasure, some inconsistency or inanity (or anything else) flat jerks you out of the story, tell us that, and tell us where. (Page numbers don’t help. Quote a few words from the passage and tell us what caused your confusion.)

▪ If, as you’re reading for pleasure, an inconsistency leaps off the page at you (e.g., the character’s eyes were blue in an earlier chapter and now they’re brown; the morning is cool, but later in the same scene it’s dark outside and/or hot; the character’s clothing suddenly changes without him or her actually changing clothes) again quote a few words where that happened and tell us what the inconsistency is.

▪ One of my first readers doesn’t take separate notes. She highlights the questionable passage in a striking color (blue or green or red is best, but avoid yellow please), maybe makes a note directly in the manuscript, and sends it back to me. If you’d rather not take notes separately, that’s a fine way to do it.

▪ Of course, note any misspellings or wrong word usages (waist for waste, a weapons cachet instead of a weapons cache, etc.).

Then ship it back to us as soon as you can. We will be endlessly grateful.

In my case, I’ll give you pretty much anything you want for this valuable service: credit as my first reader, free books, publicity, and even assistance with writing things that give you trouble, eformatting help, cover-design advice, etc.

All you have to do is ask.

Rolled out on this Sunday morning at 3:30 and made my way to the Hovel. Groggy this morning for some reason.

Anyway, I wrote the stuff above, modified some of it for a post over on the Pro Writer blog, and otherwise screwed around for three hours.

My wife and I enjoyed watching Fiddler on the Roof last night. A great film that probably couldn’t be made today. Sadly.

Up to the house at 6:30 for a break, then back to explore my computer and my mind for my next novel project.

No reportable fiction again today, so only one day left in the bank. I did, however, write a short poem that occurred to me as I was exploring story ideas. That was fun, and something that hasn’t happened in a long time.

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “No More Platform Anxiety, Please” at

See “Young Adult Author Cancels Own Novel After Race Controversy” at

As a writer who is strictly against any form of censorship, this sickens me. It also makes me angry. Whatever happened to “If you don’t like it, don’t read it”? This young woman is voluntarily losing a six-figure advance because of a “groundswell” of control freaks whose desire is to rewrite history. Shame on them. And shame on her for giving in to them.

See “To The Book Community….” at Warning: Strong language.

An excerpt:

“This transcends politics. It doesn’t matter who is screaming at you, an abusive bully is an abusive bully. Don’t let abusive bullies run your life. That’s not just true for writing, but life in general.

“You want to be a creator? Good. Then go create. Make art. Make people happy. Tell the story you want to tell. And if people like your stuff, they’ll give you money for it. That part is pretty awesome.”

Also see “Choose Your Circles Carefully….” at

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 1160 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1160

Writing of (novel)

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 3122
Total fiction words for the year………… 86526
Total nonfiction words for the month… 3220
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 28630
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 115155

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date………………………… 2
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date…………………… X
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date……… X
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 39
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………… 193
Short story collections…………………………………………………… 31

4 thoughts on “The Daily Journal, Sunday, February 3”

  1. I was disappointed to see that writer back down on the book. It’s worse than book banning. Book banning tries to drive the books out of schools and libraries. This kind of censorship tries to drive the writer to stay silent. Very disturbing.

  2. Great advice for first-readers, Harvey. I tell my wife similar things when I give her something hot off the presses.

    As for the author who broke under the pressure of zealots…I only hope she learns from this and goes on to enjoy a flourishing indie career.

    • Thanks, Phillip. Re that foldable author, I hope she goes ahead as planned, takes her six-figure advance, then uses that to launch her full-time indie career.

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