In today’s Journal
* Quote of the Day
* A Hiatus
* Power Words
* Of Interest
* The Numbers
Quote of the Day
“It took me 15 years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.” Robert Benchley
Being subject to neither of the maladies mentioned in Mr. Benchley’s tongue-in-cheek quote—I do have a talent for writing but am far from being too famous to quit—I’ll be on hiatus for awhile.
Should I decide to make this a permanent vacation, I’ll pop back into your inbox with one more edition of the Journal to let you know that. Otherwise I’ll talk with you again when I’ve resumed writing fiction. I hope that will be this month.
During my absense, I suggest you check in with Dean’s blog now and then just in case he eventually returns to talking about writing.
I also suggest you check the Kill Zone blog just in case someone over there offers any advice that is not bound up in the myths. It happens occasionally, especially in posts from John Gilstrap.
I recommend a subscription to The Passive Voice. Good stuff there almost every day.
Links to all three are in today’s “Of Interest.”
Finally, I also suggest you use the Search box in the sidebar at the Journal and at HarveyStanbrough.com to search for topics in which you’re particularly interested. Just type “scene” or “setting” or “character” or whatever search term you like and see what pops up.
Naturally, just as I’m on my way out the door, Dean actually offered up a pretty good post this morning on a new workshop he’s going to offer on the use of “Power Words.”
I wish him luck with the workshop, but it isn’t one I’ll personally recommend. Honestly the use of power words, or as I call them “electric” words, is something you can learn by reading the work of great writers (as Dean himself recommends) twice: once for pleasure and once critically, studying the passages that blew you away and figuring out how that happened.
That’s one way to learn the use of electric words. The other way requires having faith in yourself and your creative subconscious. (And why not? What harm will result from you having faith in yourself?)
As before, read the work of great writers, but this time ONLY for pleasure. Sure, when you hit one of those passages that blows you away, you might read over it again just to relish it, but then move on and read the rest of the story.
Your creative subconscious will STILL absorb any technique that affects you that strongly, and that newly gained knowledge will STILL seep through into your own work without you ever having to get the conscious, critical mind involved.
I wrote earlier that what Dean calls “power” words I call “electric” words. This is more a matter of semantics than anything else. Some words are charged with interest and carry more weight than their denotation and some aren’t. Electric words are important, but what’s more important is knowing when to use them.
And finally, just to pick a nit, Koontz’s second sentence IS long, but it is NOT by definition a run-on sentence. So you can see it in context, here’s the sentence:
The great black serpent of highway undulated over a series of low rises and gentle downslopes, through sand flats that glowed faintly, as if radioactive, past sudden thrusting formations of rock threaded through in places with quartzite or something else that caught the Big Dog’s motorcycle’s headlights and flared like veins of fire.
Now this is just a pet peeve of mine, people presenting something as a fact when it isn’t. Besides, if you don’t know the rules, you can’t break them intelligently.
Anyway, I suspect Koontz chose to write the sentence this way so the reader could experience the sensation of being on the motorcycle. Longer sentences convey emotion. As you read the sentence again, you can almost hear the sound of the bike engine flattened by the cool breeze of the desert night.
Talk with you again when I’ve resumed writing fiction.
See “Power Words” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/power-words/.
See “Another Dark and Stormy Night” at https://killzoneblog.com/2021/08/another-dark-and-stormy-night.html.
See “Four hundred years of melancholy—why Robert Burton’s masterpiece speaks to our pandemic age” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/four-hundred-years-of-melancholy-why-robert-burtons-masterpiece-speaks-to-our-pandemic-age/.
The Journal…………………………………… 740 words
Writing of WCGN 5: Tentative Title (novel)
Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX
Total fiction words for August……… 6933
Total fiction words for the year………… 623282
Total nonfiction words for August… 7260
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 153690
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 776972
Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… 13
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 3
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 66
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.