The Daily Journal, Wednesday, March 20

In today’s Journal

▪ I’m still offering
▪ I’m also considering
▪ I’ve listed the first few
▪ The famous novelist suffering
▪ Topic: On the Need for Authenticity…
▪ Daily diary
▪ Of Interest (a boatload of links)
▪ The numbers

I’m still offering a free first-page critique, say up to 500 words or so. Send what you have as a .doc, .docx or .rtf attachment via email to

I’m also considering serving as a personal writing tutor for up to three writers/students. We’ll work our way through Your manuscript, focusing on Your writing problems or weaknesses and Your questions.

I will be available via telephone and email for these discussions. (I recommend email so you can go back to review what was said, but we can do either or both.)

The focus will be up to the student. We can focus on one area of writing (punctuation, dialogue, narrative, POV, pacing, how to be more prolific, etc.) or on a whole manuscript.

There is no set fee. The fee will depend on your requirements. If the requirements are light, I might take on more than three. And yes, this is in the middle of my challenge. (grin)

This can greatly shorten your learning curve in improving your craft. If you’re interested, email me at

I listed the first few posts from Pro Writers Writing in “Of Interest” this morning. But seriously, if you haven’t subscribed, I strongly urge you to do so.

There are now eleven professional indie writers posting to this new blog. I realize receiving a post every day is a lot to take in, but each day will be something new.

It takes only a second to glance at the topic. If you find it interesting, read it. If you don’t, delete it and wait for the next day’s post. A few seconds isn’t much to pay for so much great information.

Seriously, this will be an excellent source of information, ideas, etc. Don’t miss the boat on this one.

Here’s a pic of the famous novelist suffering for his art about 500 feet above the Gila River in southwest New Mexico.

Topic: On the Need for Authenticity in Fiction

Awhile back I discussed this topic with another writer. If I remember right, I mentioned to him that one of my pet peeves is some writers’ use of “clip” when they mean the thing that holds the rounds in the butt of a semiautomatic pistol or in the bottom of the action of a semiautomatic rifle.

That part is actually called a “magazine.” A “clip” is a completely different animal. It works in a different way and serves a different purpose, usually to ease the loading of an internal magazine that’s an integral part of a semiautomatic weapon.

He said — and he was right — that most readers wouldn’t notice the use of “clip” vs. “magazine.”

As I said, he was right, but to me, that’s no excuse for sloppy or inaccurate writing. And to me (and many other readers) calling a magazine a “clip” is sloppy.

(No, it isn’t enough to toss me out of an otherwise good story, but it’s annoying and calls into question the writer’s knowledge.)

At best, such a misuse indicates that the writer isn’t well versed in the tools of his or her trade (words) and/or that s/he didn’t bother to take the time to do a modicum of research.

Likewise, I’ve seen writers use “pistol” and “revolver” interchangeably. Both are sidearms or guns, but one uses a magazine and the other uses a cylinder.

I guess my question is, why would anyone bother writing that far outside their comfort zone (or their zone of knowledge)?

It also bugs me when a writer (or politician, for that matter) refers to any semiautomatic rifle as an “AK-47.” The AK is a weapon that was widely used by Soviet troops and some of their allies during most of the Cold War. Much more prevalent today is the Chinese version, the SKS. It isn’t the same weapon.

I’ve even heard the Colt AR-15 referred to as an AK-47. Puh-leeze. The two don’t even fire a similar round (or cartridge).

(Yeah, I’ve also seen writers loading “bullets” into a gun. Uh, no. The bullet is the actual projectile. It’s only one part of a “round” or “cartridge.”)

My point here is that authenticity matters. It’s true that many readers won’t know the difference between a clip and a magazine. So those readers will skip right over “clip” and keep reading. But they’ll also skip right over “magazine” and keep reading. Right? Right?

But if you use the correct term, the story will sound more authentic to those who DO know the difference.

On the other hand, although the less-knowledgeable reader will skip over the misuse, that same misuse will make the knowledgeable reader doubt the writer’s abilities. And that can cost the writer sales.

We can’t all know everything, and we can’t always be right about everything in our stories. But we can try.

That’s what a lot of my quick research entails.

I mentioned recently that writing some parts of my Blackwell Ops novels is slower than writing other parts. I write more slowly in places where I have to pop online for a few minutes’ research.

But if a “hit” takes place in Rio de Janeiro and my people have to fly in from London Heathrow, if you look up flight times from Heathrow to Rio, you’ll find that the length of their flight and any layovers are realistic.

If they stay in a particular hotel in Rio, and if you key the name of that hotel into a search engine, you’ll find that the hotel actually exists and that it looks much as described in my novel.

If they remember that a particular Brazilian drug lord was killed in a shootout with police, he actaully was. And if they recall that another Brazilian drug lord was executed by firing squad in Indonesia for drug trafficking, yep, that happened too.

When I was younger, I read a lot of Louis L’Amour stories. He was known for the authenticity of his settings. He even made a statement in the back of each book: “When I write about a spring, that spring is there, and the water is good to drink.”

Of course, L’Amour has his detractors. There are some who say no, his settings aren’t as authentic as he says they are.

They miss the point. As I wrote earlier, nobody knows or is right about everything. But the point is to strive for authenticity in your work. Write what you know, or what you would know if you were your character.

Do your homework and/or your research and give your readers an authentic experience.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

Rolled out way too early at 1:30 this morning. I’m not sure why. Probably still coming down from the camping trip.

Had an email from a friend for whom I’m supposed to rebuild a website and opened a ticket with his host to find out why we still can’t access his website. Starting the day with a problem is always such fun. Not.

Caught up with some Facebook stuff and posted some new release things, then messed around with Spider solitaire for awhile. Bleh.

Found myself stuck in the novel this morning. Fortunately I’ve encountered this problem before. The problem? It just didn’t “feel” right.

So I backtracked, identified the wrong turn (as always, it was something I was trying to force on the characters) and started writing again.

Slow going though. As is part of the process with the Blackwell Ops novel, today is a combination of research and writing.

Well, I wrote a rip-roaring 1002 words today. Two days in a row with low output. See? It happens to all of us.

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “First Page Critique: ALEXA” at

See “Breaking Rules – The series trap” at

See “How To Write Like I Do-Part One” at

See “Glad you could make it!” at

See “Crime Writers’ Words of the Day: Make Your Stories Bleed Realism” at

Fiction Words: 1002
Nonfiction Words: 1360 (Journal)
FTotal words for the day: 2362

Writing of Blackwell Ops 5: Georgette Tilden (novel)

Day 1…… 2494 words. Total words to date…… 2494
Day 2…… 3107 words. Total words to date…… 5601
Day 3…… 3076 words. Total words to date…… 8677
Day 4…… 1515 words. Total words to date…… 10192
Day 5…… 0731 words. Total words to date…… 10923
Day 6…… 1002 words. Total words to date…… 11925

Total fiction words for the month……… 35005
Total fiction words for the year………… 194063
Total nonfiction words for the month… 16740
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 67960
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 262023

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 4
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… X
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 41
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 193
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

4 thoughts on “The Daily Journal, Wednesday, March 20”

  1. On Harvey’s “Offering” and “Considering” options; I’d strongly encourage any of you on the fence to take advantage of these! Harvey can help you make the leap from wanna be to published– without changing your style, your story, your voice. I know this from experience. Do it.

    The first three posts on ProWritersWriting bode very well for its value to writers at all levels. I’ve read each one before a full cup of coffee even! And I keep rereading them. Thanks Harvey for all the background work and to all the great contributors.

  2. Glad to have you back from your trip, Harvey. And doubly glad the PWW blog is kicking off with a bang. Looking forward to digging into the forthcoming posts.

    Great insights on getting the research right as well…to answer your question, “why would anyone bother writing that far outside their comfort zone (or their zone of knowledge)?”:

    The only answer I have is that sometimes that’s just what the subconscious wants to do. 🙂 It’s a big pain in the ass because the writing slows down due to the amount of research, but I agree with you–the effort should be made to keep as many potential readers engaged as possible.

    • Thanks, Phillip. Of course, you’re right about the subconscious wanting what it wants, pretty much like any two year old. (grin) But yes, research.

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