In today’s Journal
▪ It’s so good
▪ I’ve been thinking (oh-oh)
▪ Writing flash fiction
▪ Pro Writers Writing
▪ Topic: How I Learn to Write
▪ Daily diary
▪ Of Interest (a LOT of links)
▪ The numbers
Was my break really only four days long? When the floodgates opened again, it seemed as if it had been four weeks. It feels very good to be writing again.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my 10-novel western series, The Wes Crowley Saga. I wrote it out of order. I wrote what ended up being books 4, 5, and 6 first. Then I wrote books 1-3, then 7-10.
As you know, I don’t usually go back and mess with anything I’ve already written. But because that saga makes up such a large part of my oeuvre (and because I flat love the story), I think I’m going to make an exception.
After I finish my current WIP (the 6th novel for this year), I think I’m going to go over at least Books 4-6 and let myself touch them. Mostly I’ll improve the pacing.
This isn’t something I would normally do or something I would recommend. But again, it’s TEN books. In fact, if you read them in the sequence in which I wrote them (Books 4-6 first, then 1-3) you’ll actually see my storytelling improve, especially with regard to ease of reading and pacing.
So maybe I’ll go back and fix that. I do it for other people, so why not do it for myself?
If anyone’s interested in learning to write (or writing) true flash fiction (99 words or fewer), you can now download The Art of Writing Flash Fiction on my website at https://harveystanbrough.com/downloads/. Scroll down. You’ll find it. It’s very short, very consise, and loaded with information.
While you’re there, look around. There’s a lot of stuff, and it’s all free.
Pro Writers Writing is still there, though the past couple of days it hasn’t posted to email automatically like it’s supposed to. (UPDATE: It posted to my email this morning like it’s supposed to every day. It also posted one of the two it “missed” before.)
I’m still exploring MailChimp to try to figure out why it doesn’t send every day at 7 a.m. (Arizona time), as it’s supposed to. Rest assured I’m doing everything I can.
In the meantime I recommend adding PWW to your Bookmarks (or whatever it’s called in your browser) and checking it once a day.
You might also check your spam folder every day. This morning I found three “Xxxx left a comment on PWW” emails in my spam folder. (I have gmail.)
Topic: How I Learn to Write
Awhile back, I wrote a topic (here) and a post over at HarveyStanbrough.com on how I write. It was titled How to Write Like I Do. I recommend it.
This morning, I received feedback from one of my two first readers for my recently completed Blackwell Ops 5: Georgette Tilden.
First, a bit of explanation.
Dean Wesley Smith pretty vehemently recommends having only one first reader. I understand his reasoning. Basically, it’s “too many cooks spoil the stew.”
But I like having two. Most importantly, one is female and one is male. As such, each brings his or her truly diverse and invaluable perspective to the reading.
For another, each brings his or her life experience to the reading. Both are accomplished poets. That’s important to me because they both know timing, pacing, word choice, etc.
Both also enjoy the Blackwell Ops stories and other stories similar to those. So I know they actually want to read them and be entertained by them.
Finally, both also bring knowledge of various aspects of the lives of the Blackwell Ops characters to the reading. For just one example, both are at least familiar with Many Things French (and/or Cajun). For another, one is well-versed on period/regional clothing, and the other is familiar with weapons and police procedures. And so on.
So they give me great input and occasional great insights into things I might not have considered as I recorded my characters’ story (and things the characters themselves might not have divulged to me).
You might ask, “But don’t your characters reveal everything about themselves to you?”
The short answer is No, they don’t.
When you meet someone new, even a person who will eventually become a friend, do you divulge everything about yourself?
Of course not. And I’m not talking about privacy here or the skeletons in your closet. I’m talking about things that are not necessarily secrets. It isn’t that you withhold those things intentionally. It’s just that some aspects of your life are so routine to you that you don’t think to divulge them.
So it is with characters.
So to How I Learn to Write.
I don’t mean how I *learned* to write. I mean how I learn to write even as I’m in the midst of writing.
First, I learn from my characters and how they get into and out of situations. I learn from how they deal with stressors (events or other characters). Surprisingly, my characters very seldom approach or deal with situations and other characters in the same way I would.
But that’s all internal. It’s all between me and the characters and their story.
Then I finish the story and send it off to my first readers. They read it and send it back, and a whole new level of learning begins.
Often, I’ll take-off an hour or a few hours or a day from writing my WIP to read their comments on the previous novel. I do that so I can learn, then integrate (but subconsciously, always subconsciously) what I learned into the new WIP.
Sometimes I’ll go all the way back to the beginning of my WIP and read through the whole thing (cycling) as I allow my fingers to rest on the keyboard.
Inevitably, I’ll add to the WIP some of the things I learned from reading my first readers’ comments on the previous novel, especially in the same series.
I’m writing Book 6 of the current series now, and I’m still learning about the series overall and about the characters and situations and locations specifically.
And it’s a ton of fun.
Of course, I also take an hour or two here and there to learn “formally” from a new workshop I’ve bought into. But I often learn just as much from the invaluable input of my first readers.
So at some point, when I get feedback from my other first reader, I’ll set everything else aside for a short while and read over their recommendations.
I’ll apply what works for me and discard the rest. And I’ll learn a little more about writing.
Rolled out at 3:30, but I woke up in a bad mood for some reason. I woke up groggy and confused and stumbled through my morning ritual. I hope escaping back into my WIP will help with that.
Did all the usual stuff and finally headed to the house for a break at 7. Shower, change of clothes, long, leisurely breakfast (a new concoction I dreamed up) and finally back to the Hovel at 8:30.
I spent the next TWO HOURS doing something stupid. I looked at reviews on Amazon. Most of them were good. Natch, there were a few bad, at least one for entirely the wrong book (similar title, why the hell doesn’t Amazon remove those reviews?) and one that obviously panned my book (a nonfiction) without ever having read it. Sigh.
Like I said, even looking at them in the first place was just a stupid thing to do. Especially with my mood today.
I’m not going to return to the novel today. Too much of me might seep into the story. I’m going to mow the yard, spend some quality time with my little girl, and maybe do some publishing stuff.
Talk with you again tomorrow.
See “Costs of Creation” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/costs-of-creation/.
See “How to Sell eBooks at Cons and Book Festivals” at https://the-digital-reader.com/2019/04/07/how-to-sell-ebooks-at-cons-and-book-festivals/.
See “Dear Hollywood Producer” at https://killzoneblog.com/2019/04/dear-hollywood-producer.html. This one could have been titled “If the check is big enough, I won’t even care.” (grin)
Not about writing, but please see “Stay Secure Online with Virtual Credit Card Numbers” at https://www.creditcardinsider.com/blog/virtual-credit-cards/.
Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 1370 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 1370
Writing of Blackwell Ops 6: Charlie Task (novel)
Day 1…… 2774 words. Total words to date…… 2774
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX
Total fiction words for the month……… 10960
Total fiction words for the year………… 230613
Total nonfiction words for the month… 12330
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 89400
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 320013
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