The Journal: Be Careful How You Present Yourself

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Affinity Product Sale
* Topic: Be Careful How You Present Yourself
* Of Interest

Quotes of the Day

“Engineers have developed a glucose power source that could fuel miniature implants and sensors.” Jennifer Chu, MIT News Online (see “Of Interest”) via 1440 Daily Digest

“I adore revisiting the characters I came to love in the first book. Sometimes, it’s like they’ve become my friends, welcoming me back to their worlds with open arms. At times, I can’t believe they aren’t real.” Melodie Campbell in “The Scoop on Writing Series” (see “Of Interest”)

I thought this was a wonderful sentiment. Then in the next paragraph, she wrote

“You’ve heard writers declare that characters will sometimes take over a book and tell their own story. True, some characters are the bane of my existence, ungrateful whiny creatures who permeate my brain and insist that I tell their stories rather than move on to new projects.” Melodie Campbell

Seriously? The bane of your existence?

If you’re a writer, your characters are the CORE of your existence, at least when you’re acting in your persona as a writer.

Affinity Product Sale

For a limited time, Serif is having a 50% off sale on all their Affinity products: Publisher, Photo, and Designer. These programs are competitive with Adobe products but are newer, more intuitive and more user-friendly.

Best of all, whereas you can only rent or subscribe to Adobe products, you will own your Affinity product and at only a fraction of the price even before taking 50% off. At the moment, for less than $85, you can get all three of these interactive products.

They also offer a wide range of creative add-on products (think “brush strokes” for Adobe), also at 50% off.

I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this sale. For details, see

Topic: Be Careful How You Present Yourself

Write however you want, but I advise you not to advertise it. For just one example, based on the third quote of the day (above), I would never read any of Melodie Campbell’s novels.

Why? Primarily because of her attitude toward her characters. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Wow.

Fiction should be a glimpse at natural, authentic characters going about their lives, experiencing and reacting to various situations that are also authentic, at least in their world.

There is no room in good fiction for author intrusion or contrivance. The more control the author exercises over the characters, the farther the story gets from authenticity.

That’s why I’ve always try to hammer home that you’re writing the story that your characters, not you, are living. Hey, live and let live. Let go of control and the responsibility that comes with it and simply record the story your characters are so graciously giving you.

You might say, as many have, “But they’re my characters so it’s my story.”

Well, okay, but no. Your story is the life you’re living, including sitting at a keyboard writing your characters’ stories. But you’re writing them, not living them. The characters are living them.

Some would say the characters live only in the author’s mind, and that might well be true. I personally believe the characters live in a whole different dimension. I believe when one of them tugs on my sleeve and asks me to write his story, he’s granting me the ability to see into that dimension where he exists.

But both of those are beliefs. Neither are facts. And although we can all speak to what we believe, neither I nor anyone I know can speak with authority to any author’s ability to perceive the difference between his or her own mind and another dimension. Meither can we speak to the actual, factual existence or non-existence of other dimensions or to any author’s ability to perceive those dimensions.

So if you want to believe your characters live and love and act out their stories in your mind, that’s fine. And if you want to believe they live their stories in another dimension (or in the barrel of your pen or in your keyboard or somewhere else), that’s fine too.

But all of that’s beside the point. The point is, wherever the characters exist, they and their stories exist with each other. The characters and their stories are dependent on each other, and they are separate of the author and his or her own story. Without the characters to live the story that the authors sees as having sprung from their imagination, there would be no story.

So we’re back to Square One. My advice remains to let the characters live their story, unimpeded and without author intrusion. Instead of controling and manipulating them and the situations they’re in, release that responsibility and just record what happens and what they say and do. Easy peasy. Which leads me to  My Two Pet Peeves as a Reader. I’ll talk about those tomorrow.

See you then.

Of Interest

See “Ultrathin fuel cell uses the body’s own sugar to generate electricity” at

See “Fear Thesaurus Entry: Change” at Useful for characters and useful for life.

See “… The Scoop on Writing Series Books” at I recommend you skip down to the section titled “But Sometimes You Can’t.”

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.


4 thoughts on “The Journal: Be Careful How You Present Yourself”

  1. For a series character not changing, see Travis McGee in the John D. MacDonald series – there is a constant change and refinement and an odd maturation in Travis, so much so that people read the books in order to catch the nuances.

    If JDM hadn’t died as the result of surgery when he was 70, we’d have a longer series – people still debate where it was going.

  2. I have Affinity Publisher and Photo, and I LOVE them! Photo is comparable to PhotoShop and is actually easier to use in so many ways. I use it to design my book covers. Publisher is absolutely fabulous. I do all my hard copy book formatting in it and will never go back to using a word processing software for that. Truly excellent.

    BTW, Harvey, I agree about that third quote. If I hated my characters that much, there’s no way I’d write. Eesh. I’d kill them all and be done with it. LOL Even the ones who I call my “problem children” are fun in their own rights, but “bane”, much less “ungrateful whiny creatures”, NO. Why would I want to spend time with characters like that? I don’t like REAL PEOPLE who are like that, and I don’t subject myself to them either.

    • Thanks, Dawn. I have the suite of Affinity products but have to admit I’m still using Serif PagePlus X9 (LOVED X6) to create my covers. (grin)

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