The Journal: The Becoming A Writer Mentorships

In today’s Journal

* Topic: The Becoming A Writer Mentorships
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Topic: The Becoming A Writer Mentorships

First, an update: The mentorships came together more quickly than I expected. They went live this morning. But I decided to post some of my working notes on the Becoming A Writer mentorships because they make for a good topic. There are many more topics in the actual mentorships than are shown here.

You can view the complete mentorships by clicking (it costs nothing to look) and then choosing one link or the other.

I’m glad it’s over. Now I can go back to writing this morning! (grin)


* Overcoming the fear of failure, and the fear of success—Overcoming unreasoning fear is both the beginning of and a recurring part of the process of becoming a prolific fiction writer. Getting over the hump will take some folks a day and it will take others longer. Everything depends on how quickly you can come to trust yourself and downplay the notion that anything you write is “important.” (More on that later.)

. . . More topics here. For those see

* Believing in yourself (that fear thing again)You are a writer, an entertainer. As such, THAT you write is vitally important. It’s who you are. But WHAT you write, the individual story or novel, the entertainment itself, is not important in the slightest. The individual story or novel is only a few minutes’ or hours’ entertainment for the reader. That’s it. It’s no more important than that.

. . . More topics here. For those see

* Why I don’t recommend outlining and other pre-writing structures, and why I don’t recommend rewriting.The short answer? Because you’ll sabotage yourself.

The first half of the longer answer: When you outline (you can only outline from the conscious, critical mind), you blatantly illustrate to your creative subconscious that you flat don’t trust it (or yourself) to tell the story that the characters, not you, are living. That is not a good start.

That being said, if you can’t shake the unreasoning fear of working without a net, by all means outline. But I won’t give you any guidance on that. I can’t. My only guidance would be to toss the outline and let the characters tell the story they’re living.

As Ray Bradbury and others have said, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” And no surprise for the reader equals a bland story or novel.

The second half of the longer answer: When you revise or rewrite from the conscious, critical mind, again you illustrate that you don’t trust your creative subconscious. To do that is to literally dissuade the creative subconscious that laid what might well be the golden story.

Again, I will always recommend you go with your creative subconscious and ignore the “opinion” of your conscious, critical mind. Because you literally have zero idea what a publisher, gamer, or TV or film producer might like. None.


Again, of necessity, the Becoming A Writer mentorships will not be deeply focused on your fiction. These will include specifics and examples (when appropriate), but they will be more generalized than the Writing Craft mentorships.

* Coming up with story ideas—Story ideas are not golden. They’re a dime a thousand. When this is over, you will be flooded with a continual stream of story ideas. Ways to exercise the idea muscle.

. . . More topics here. For those see

* Character, character, characterAll story begins with and hinges on character. The reader roots for character, and the character(s) live the story, react to the setting, etc. It’s all about character.

In my own writing, it isn’t even my story. It’s the characters’ story. I’m the lucky guy who gets to check in on them now and then and write down what they’re doing and saying.

I actually check in with several of my characters each day. When I’m very lucky, I catch them at the beginning of a story and follow along as they act it out. And that becomes a new short story, novella or novel.

* Description, description, description—Characters don’t exist in a vacuum. They exist in a setting. Every one of them.

Every scene also exists in a setting. Have you ever opened a story with dialogue? That’s fine. But is your dialogue happening against a white background? A void? No. Not in your mind it isn’t. Be sure that makes it to the page. As in…

What do the characters look like? How are they dressed (the parts the POV character can see)?

What’s around them? Are they in a room? Are they seated on a couch? Across from each other in chairs?

Is there a table between them? What’s in the background? Is it a dine-in table in a kitchen in a house (what’s it look/feel like per the POV character)? Is it one of many tables in a restaurant or café?

Does the waitress, waiter, child or other person passing through the scene seem brusque or harried or friendly or carefree? Are they attentive or dismissive? Bothersome? Annoyed or annoying? Etc.

Take your time. Describe the characters and the setting to give the scene life.

* Writing openings (and grounding the reader in Setting)

* On being a “putter-inner” or a “taker-outer”—(From a Journal post a few days ago)

Stephen King once wrote that there are two kinds of writers on revision: taker-outers and putter-inners.

If you’re a “taker outer” please give some thought to your readers. Compare the story as it appears in your head with how it will appear in the reader’s after you’ve lowered the dreaded red pen or blue pencil or delete key on your next target.

Remember, you have the advantage of hearing and viewing the story directly in your creative subconscious. The reader doesn’t have that luxury. The reader can only see, hear, smell, taste and touch what you allow through (or allow to remain) on the page.

Also bear in mind that when you see an element that is “too” anything—too long, too complex, too complicated—that’s your conscious, critical mind speaking. And if you remove whatever it is, you’re second guessing your creative subconscious, which can cause it to cross its little arms and stop talking to you. (See “Why I don’t recommend outlining and other pre-writing structures, and why I don’t recommend rewriting” above.)

Not to mention you’re second-guessing the reader’s taste, which (I’m sorry) is Not Your Job. (grin)

And never, NEVER remove a word or phrase (or sentence or paragraph or chapter) “just because.” Don’t be a robot.

That’s the end of the notes.

Everything in Part 2 above will overlap into the Writing Craft mentorships, albeit to much greater depth and more closely focused and fine-tuned to your particular work. Those mentorships will also hold many more topics on craft.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment on the site or email me at

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “It’s Complicated” at

See “25 Literary Fiction Markets Seeking Submissions” at

See “Strange Methods: Michael Moorcock’s 3-Day Novel” at Michael Moorcock has always fascinated me, but I don’t align with all the need for planning things out.

See “First Page Critique – Little League; Huge Trouble” at

See “Introverted Authors in Public: 4 Tips For Overcoming Your Fear of Being Seen” at Any introverted authors out there? See PG’s take.

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 1250 words

Writing of (novel)

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for June……… 48494
Total fiction words for the year………… 502983
Total nonfiction words for June… 15210
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 121440
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 624423

Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… 10
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 3
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 63
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.