The Daily Journal, Tuesday, April 23

In today’s Journal

▪ Pro Writers Writing blog
▪ Topic: You Have a Choice
▪ Daily diary
▪ Of Interest
▪ The numbers

Well, for the second day in a row the post at PWW didn’t go out via MailChimp as it was supposed to.

As a result, I deactivated the “missed-post trigger” plug-in that obviously isn’t working and activated another one.

I also went into MailChimp and re-set the posting time to 9 a.m. So we’ll see. UPDATE: The PWW post went out! Woohoo! I’ll leave the posting time at 9. Wouldn’t want to upset anything.

In the meantime, be sure to see Duke Southard’s “Distractions and Annoyances” at

Topic: You Have a Choice

Every fiction writer is different. That’s a given. But at the same time, like it or not, all fiction writers fall into one of two camps. You have a choice as to which camp you’re in.

In one camp are those who see themselves as the god of the story. They move about the camp in flowing robes. If they encounter a fellow writer, they nod grimly and mutter a short “Good day” so as not to derial their train of thought. Which of course is focused on the story they’re thinking about writing once they’ve figured it out.

They see themselves as responsible-for and in-control-of the story and the characters who populate it. After all, it’s only logical that the story the writer is writing or thinking about writing is the writer’s story.

Chances are, they see the word Writer (always capitalized) as some sort of elevated “calling” and they hear an angelic chorus (ahhAHHHH!) every time the word is uttered.

They attend or conduct or dream-of book launches where they dine on brie and crackers with French names and expensive wines as they soak up the adoration of the attendees.

Many of these folks outline their novels before writing a word of the story. Others don’t.

Many create character sketches complete with the character’s physical description, backstory, emotional baggage, etc. Others don’t. But either way, they all control the story.

They listen closely to every criticism because, after all, it’s their story and it must be perfect. So they have to write it the way others say it should be written. (???)

As they write, they labor over every word and fret over sentence and paragraph construction and repetition. They watch closely to be sure they appropriately alter simple, complex, compound and compound-complex sentences regularly. They work to be sure each individual “topic” has its own paragraph and that the paragraph doesn’t end until the topic is exhausted, like they were taught in high school and college by their non–fiction-writing (or nonfiction-writing) teachers and professors, and like this paragraph is written. And chances are, because it contains a lot of words (49), they believe the previous sentence is “run-on.” (It isn’t. It’s actually a simple sentence.) These writers probably gasped at my use of “And” to begin the third sentence above this one. Finally (the readers sighed with relief), they are very careful to count the number of times they repeated the word “there” and they are careful to alternate “that” and “which” just as if they believe those words are interchangeable. (They aren’t.)

Most often, you can recognize these writers even when they’re away from their camp. They’re the ones with bruises on their forehead from their wrist resting there so often.

All of this (and a great deal more) is perfectly fine. These writers are doing what they were taught to do. Their obedience is a symptom of their skill level at the moment.

In the other camp, there are no immaculately clean, godly robes. Like craftsmen everywhere, the writers there dress in whatever makes them comfortable as they ply their trade.

Most of the writers in this camp don’t know what wine and cheese and crackers taste like together. If they do, the cheese is probably sharp cheddar or colby and the wine is probably coffee. They wonder why their colleagues in the other camp are “launching” instead of writing.

These writers do occasionally practice word selection, usually to replace “green stuff on a rock” with “moss” because “moss” didn’t come to mind in the moment.

They generally don’t sweat sentence construction or paragraphing or much of anything else:

▪ The sentences are whatever the characters use in a given situation.

▪ A new paragraph begins without conscious thought whenever a different character says or does something.

▪ A new scene or chapter begins when the characters move from one setting into another one. Easy-peasy.

And it’s easy-peasy because the characters decide all of those things.

These writers have abdicated control and responsibility for the characters’ story. They don’t fret over much and they don’t labor over anything.

And they don’t have to make that long, arduous climb up the stairs into the Authorial Tower each morning.

They get up, throw a sandwich into a bag, walk across the dusty camp, and roll off the parapet into the trenches of the story.

The characters look up. “Ah, there you are. Ready?”

The writer grins and puts his or her fingers on the keyboard. “Gawd, I hope so.”

The characters laugh and take off, racing at full speed from setting to setting, scene to scene, exchanging bits of dialogue and pointing out what they see, hear, smell, taste, touch and feel (emotionally) as they go.

The writer hangs on for the ride. And with just a little luck, s/he records all of that.

Now and then, the characters stop for a breather. When they do, the writer grabs a few of them, drags them back to where the last scene started, shows them what s/he’s written and asks them whether s/he missed anything.

The characters fill in any blank spots. Then a whistle blows to end the break, the characters race off laughing again, and the poor writer — this luckiest, most fortunate of all creatures — tries again to keep up.

So which camp do you live in?

For you personally, is writing an elevated calling, a tiresome, forehead-bruising labor of love?

Or is writing simply the most fun you can have with your clothes on?

Please don’t respond except to yourself. After all, there are no right answers and every writer is different. Really, whatever works for you at your current skill level is fine.

Just know you’re always welcome in my camp. Bring your own clothes, but I’ll keep the coffee on for you.

Rolled out at 2 this morning. I had planned not to write a topic at all, give you folks a rest. But something I read somewhere (maybe a comment on Dean’s post from yesterday) got me keyed up. The result is the topic above.

It’s 5 a.m. now and I’m headed to the house for a break. Back to the Hovel and the novel around 7.

I wrote for awhile, then went up to the house to do some mowing while the temperature was still reasonalbe (low 70s). Got that done and the sidewalk swept, then ate some breakfast-lunch and headed back to the Hovel at 10.

Writing slowly today for some reason. I write a few paragraphs, then get up and wander around for awhile. Write a few more paragraphs, wander again. Weird.

The novel’s moving along fine when I sit here and write. (grin) Maybe I’m already moving into the “fear of finishing” phase, where I know the end is coming and I don’t want to let go and see the story end.

Then again, my dear, longtime friend Robert will be here at around noon tomorrow. With my weird hours, I should still get some writing done every day, but I’m sure the impending visit is messing with my mind at least a little bit. I haven’t seen Robert for roughly a thousand years. (grin)

I’m pooped. Calling it a day a little early.

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “First Page Critiques: A Look At The Edgar Nominees” at

See “The Emo Dump of Horror ” at With posts like this one, frankly I wish Marilyn Byerley would post more often.

Via The Passive Voice, see “Fiction Notes” (Darcy Pattison’s website) at Browse the menu. A lot of good stuff there.

See “John Sandford: Inside the Mind of a Manhunter” at

See “Great Challenge Revisited” at

For fun, or if you love fonts, see “Helvetica, the World’s Most Popular Font, Gets a Face-Lift” at

Fiction Words: 2123
Nonfiction Words: 1410 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 3533

Writing of Blackwell Ops 6: Charlie Task (novel)

Day 10… 3212 words. Total words to date…… 25902
Day 11… 2123 words. Total words to date…… 28026

Total fiction words for the month……… 38063
Total fiction words for the year………… 255864
Total nonfiction words for the month… 28200
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 105270
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 361134

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 5
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… X
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 42
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 193
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31