The Daily Journal, Tuesday, March 5

In today’s Journal

▪ Update on Pro Writers Writing
▪ An experiment
▪ Topic: Reader Taste (Revisited)
▪ Daily diary
▪ Of Interest
▪ The numbers

Well, the subscription form wasn’t working out. Each time I updated it, it disappeared. So if you’ve subscribed, please do so again.

To subscribe, visit and click Subscribe vis Email in the menu.

We’re growing! Yesterday we added Terry Odell, and this morning we added Dawn M. Turner.

It’s kind of hard to gauge how the experiment is going. Of course, I’m only one day in. When I’m writing, the story’s going very fast, but now and then I have to stop for a moment’s research, and that slows things down a little.

Anyway, I’m determined to do it this way for a week. If it works out better, that’s great. If not, it’s still okay. I’m turning out an average of well over 2000 words per day as it is.

Topic: Reader Taste (Revisited)

In response to a dissenting opinion on today’s post over on my big site, I wrote the following. I expanded it a bit here:

I agree up to a point. But IMHO, a best-selling writer should know how to add depth and should strive to balance the other details. If s/he can’t pull me (the reader) into the story in the first place, that isn’t a matter of my taste. It’s a matter of that writer’s skill (or lack thereof).

Which is why I’ve spent a ton of money and time learning how to craft a story that pulls the reader in.

But let’s go the other way and say that every flaw in a book is owing to reader taste instead of the writer’s lack of ability. In other words, nothing is my fault. (grin)

If every flaw in a book can be attributed to reader taste rather than a lack of writer knowledge, why bother learning the craft at all? Why bother spending hundred or thousands of dollars on workshops and seminars when we can mark up everything to reader taste?

What if my manuscript is chock full of wrong words (“waste” for “waist”) and typos and misspellings? When the reader finally decides wading through my writing isn’t worth it and closes the book, can I just mark up reader dissatisfaction to “reader taste”?

Some writers can, maybe, but I can’t and I won’t. That would just be silly.

Again, the ones with whom I have issues are not beginning writers, but bestsellers. In my opinion, they should have mastered the craft to which we all aspire.

Reader taste is a different animal. In my own novels, I’ve had some readers tell me they skim over some of my descriptions (because they feel there’s too much). At least the story’s good enough to hold their interest. (I do the same thing with some of the lengthy scientific descriptions in some of Heinlein’s novels, but I don’t toss away the book and quit reading.)

Yet other readers of my novels say they feel they’re down in the story with the characters (again, because of the depth of description). Now that is reader taste.

There comes a point where the writer should assume some responsibility for what s/he’s written. I personally try to add detail (depth, all five senses) when it’s necessary to the scene and the story and I try to omit it when it isn’t.

In other words, I’m studying and practicing and applying the craft. And that, I believe, should be the goal of all fiction writers.

Rolled out at 3 after going to bed early and catching up on my sleep: 9 hours of it. Responded to email for an hour, then turned to the novel.

In the first hour, I added only about 700 words, then took a break. Back to the novel at 5:30.

I lost track of time, but added another thousand words at sometime or other. At around 9:30 I went down to the house to put in a load of laundry and do a couple of chores.

Then I came back here and worked on the subscription problem with the site and answered yet some more emails. (grin) Still, somehow I’ve managed to lay down around 2500 words so far today. A break now, and then I’ll come back for at least one more session.

I’m calling it at 1:40.

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “WPA Anthology Contest – Foreword by Lee Child” at

See “Last Day of the Anthology Workshop” at He talks also about his upcoming challenge.

See “Writing Commercial Fiction – Superstars Recap 7” at

See “Mystery Publishing News – Recent Shakeups” at I suggest taking this as a cautionary tale if you’re still seeking traditional publication.

See “World Building (Part II)” at

Via “Gai” in a comment, see the first film written entirely by AI at

Fiction Words: 3331
Nonfiction Words: 800 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 4131

Writing of Blackwell Ops 4: Melanie Sloan (novel)

Day 10… 1235 words. Total words to date…… 26680
Day 11… 3140 words. Total words to date…… 29820
Day 12… 1698 words. Total words to date…… 31518
Day 13… 2514 words. Total words to date…… 34032
Day 14… 3331 words. Total words to date…… 37363

Total fiction words for the month……… 11918
Total fiction words for the year………… 170976
Total nonfiction words for the month… 4630
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 55850
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 226826

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date………………………… 3
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date…………………… X
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date……… X
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 40
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………… 193
Short story collections…………………………………………………… 31

2 thoughts on “The Daily Journal, Tuesday, March 5”

  1. You missed out on a special pleasure that I got, which is influencing my comments: The writing message boards. They despise best selling writers. Everything DWS says they say I have seen on the message boards. How dare this writer not use serial commas! How dare this writer break this writer rule? Clive Cussler was routinely trashed for “head hopping.” Dan Brown and J.K. Rowlings were blasted for being terrible writers. Clearly readers don’t know what they’re doing because these best selling writers cannot write! And the writers on these boards pick and pick, looking for flaws. No one asks questions about what the writer did right.

    So, why are you focusing on what you think is a flaw? Did you generally enjoy the book except for the place you got kicked out? What in the book did the writer do right?

    • Not sure why I let this through, but I’ll give it one more shot. I understand you’re defending DWS’ position on this. If you were privy to the entirety of that exchange (mine and his), you would know I’m not “focusing” on what I think is a flaw. I used a lack of depth (DWS calls it “thin writing”) as just one example.

      Please don’t put words in my mouth. Not once have I given any indication (or ever said or written) that I’m “focusing” on what I “think” is a “flaw” in my Topic nor in the other post on the big site nor in my comment there. I’m simply reading as a reader. When I get shoved out of a book, I don’t go back. (Like most readers, and like every editor I’ve ever known.) Why would I force myself to waste my time trudging through something that is, by definition, supposed to be entertaining?

      I’m simply saying it is the writer’s responsibility to learn the craft as well as s/he can and apply that craft to the best of his/her ability at his/her current skill level. Exactly the same thing DWS would say.

      As for “bashing,” I don’t do that and I don’t speak for those who do. When I was teaching writing, I told my students not to emulate Michener AS FAR AS his use of misplaced modifiers. Why? Because he uses a ton of them, and because even in the midst of a tense situation, they can inject unintentional humor into a scene. Do I think Michener is a great writer? Yes. I was also thrown out of a Stephen King book (The Dome) because of some things I wasn’t “looking” for but that threw me out of the story when they occurred repeatedly. Do I think King is a great writer? Yes. I’ve read almost everything he’s written and in all but one case was NOT thrown out of the story and enjoyed the experience.

      Your question, “Did you generally enjoy the book except for the place you got kicked out?” illustrates that you don’t understand what I’m saying. There might well be a great story in some of the books I’m talking about. The point is, AS A READER, I wasn’t able to get to that point.

      And if you honestly don’t believe it is the writer’s responsibility to pull the reader into the story — if you can mark a reader being put-off up to reader taste in every instance — then why did you take Dean’s Writing With Depth workshop? (I also took it and am endlessly grateful.) And in your own blog, which I keep cross-referencing in the “Of Interest” section of my Journal, why do you go on about the Superstars conference? THAT’S my point: If every instance of bad writing can be marked up to reader taste, why attempt to improve as a writer? Wouldn’t it be easier (and a lot less expensive) to just write what you want any old way you want and mark up low sales to “reader taste”?

      The bottom line is this: In my opinion, if a writer doesn’t know how to pull a reader into his/her story, that writer doesn’t deserve readers. Is this a slam on writers? No. It’s a call to action. It’s a call for writers to do two things (which, by the way, you do yourself): Learn the craft, and then apply it to the best of his or her ability in every book s/he writes.

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