The Fear is Pervasive, and The Known Universe

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Welcome
* The Fear is Pervasive
* From Dr. Mardy Groethe’s Quotes of the Week
* Map of the Known Universe
* Reminder
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” Vince Lombardi

The Fear is Pervasive

As I shared yesterday’s substack post to my Twitter account, I noticed a post just below. I try not to notice because the fear of getting it “wrong” and the myths of writing are so pervasive.

The author wrote,

“If your character is seven years old in your first novel, CAN you skip to adulthood for Book 2? My heart just can’t feel a story for him as a teen, etc. No matter how hard I try, I can’t. Do all characters NEED a middle story? Especially if it’s just not in the author’s heart?”

See? This crap is all over the place. It’s like a cancer, except it spreads faster.

One respondent, a male, wrote, “That’s what flashbacks are for.”

Another, a female, wrote, “The key for me is wehter there are any significant events that shape him as an adult. …”

Seriously? OF COURSE there are significant events in the character’s childhood and adolescence that shape who s/he will become in adulthood. Freakin’ DUH!

This sort of nonsense drives me crazy.

Understand, I’m not saying you should think about or figure out or divine whatever pre-adolescent and-or adolescent experiences might have contributed to the character’s behavior as an adult and then be sure to work those into the plot, either as flashbacks or in sequence and chronologically.

I’m saying it isn’t your story. It’s your characters’ story. They are actually living it. So take it easy on yourself. Run through the story with them and just write what happens and how the characters react to that. FAR easier than fretting and worrying over what to include or “what happens next.”

Even if some of it seems boring to you, the writer, when you write it, leave it alone. If it wasn’t important to the characters (and therefore wouldn’t become important to the story somewhere farther along) the character wouldn’t have included it.

My response to that writer was brief: “I suggest you stop trying to think your way through it. After all, the character, not you, is actually living the story. For a great deal more, visit”

If I had it, I’d bet a b’jillion dollars that writer will never show up here. The fear is just too great.

Hey, you can lead ’em to knowledge — or sometimes not — but you can’t make ’em think. Or stop thinking.

But all of that’s fine. It’s one reason I don’t read writer boards, most writer websites, and pretty much any of the “advice” books out there. I don’t need the aggravation.

It’s also why, after some would-be or brand new writer lectures me about how to write fiction, I can smile, say “Well, enjoy,” and walk away with my own knowledge intact. No doubts, no worries, no fears.

For the much larger, more all-inclusive reason, be sure to read “Map of the Known Universe” below.

Kudos and blessings on you all for having the fortitude to stand up on your own hind legs and at least try to face the unknown.

From Dr. Mardy Groethe’s Quotes of the Week

“For nearly 2,000 memorable opening lines from every genre of world literature, go to And if you’d like to receive a daily dose of outstanding openers, follow me on Facebook.

Dr. Mardy is a great source for quote and other information of interest to writers. I strongly recommend his newsletter and other offerings.

Map of the Known Universe

On the wall of my office, I used to have the National Geographic Map of the Known Universe.

On it, our entire solar system was displayed as a minuscule yellow dot labeled “Sol.” It was barely larger than a pin prick.

Our nearest neighbor, Alpha Centauri, was displayed too, and to scale it was only a quarter-inch away on the map.

Yet in reality, the Alpha Centauri system is almost four and a half light years away.

And it dawned on me that if Earth suddenly and magnificently exploded into stardust, not only would any intelligent souls on Alpha Centauri care, they wouldn’t even notice.

That realization humbled me. In the overall scheme, if even our entire world is that insignificant, what possible difference can I make?

Bringing it back to our ridiculously petty human concerns, this is why it’s so easy for me to say I don’t really care how anyone else writes. We all write to entertain someone.

I write to entertain myself first, then any readers who sample and enjoy my work. And that’s true whether I’m talking about fiction, any of my nonfiction books, or this Journal.

Might as well take the easiest path to writing and entertaining. That is trusting the characters to live the story they’re living, and trusting yourself to record it accurately.

Lest you think me a sky-is-falling kind of guy, nothing could be further from the truth. To me, this isn’t a bleak picure at all. It’s simply a humbling fact.

And given all the discord in the States and in the world today, it makes me endlessly happy that our ineptitude at space travel will keep all that discord right here among us instead of it spreading to other worlds.


All of you participating in the Bradbury Challenge, be sure to get your story info in to me by tonight at midnight. I’ll check first thing Monday morning.

Of course, “first thing” might occur at a few minutes after midnight, but probably not while the World Series is going on.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

Six Things Writers Need To Stop Worrying About This was Konrath’s last blog for a long while and I’ve recommended it often, but he’s back now. (See below)

J A Konrath is back I strongly recommend following this blog.

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 1010

Writing of Blackwell Ops 13: Jenna Crowley

Day 1…… 3815 words. To date……3815
Day 2…… 3116 words. To date…… 6931

Fiction for October…………………… 90492
Fiction for 2023………………………… 308034
Fiction since August 1………………… 193487
Nonfiction for October……………… 26870
Nonfiction for the year……………… 225210
Annual consumable words………… 533184

2023 Novels to Date……………………… 6
2023 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2023 Short Stories to Date……………… 7
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 77
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)…… 235
Short story collections…………………… 31

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Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark and adherence to Heinlein’s Rules. Unreasoning fear and the myths of writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.