The Value of Cycling, and How Series Occur

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Reminder
* The Value of Cycling
* How Series Come About for WITD Writers
* Of Interest
* The Numbers


You folks writing for the Bradbury Challenge, get your stories in to me before midnight tonight (Sunday).

Shameless Someone-Else Promotion

K.C. Riggs’ long-awaited sequel to The Widow’s Circle (trust me, this is not about ladies sitting around sewing quilts) is available now.

Get yout copy of The Widow’s Circle: Going to Ground today!

Hint: Like me, this excellent writer writes into the dark. (grin)

The Value of Cycling

Each morning after I file the current edtion of the Journal and before I start writing, I cycle back over everything I wrote the day before. This is in addition to cycling back over each session when I return for another session.

But remember, this is still cycling. I rest my fingertips on the keyboard as I read for pleasure so the POV character can check and correct or add (in my case) things I missed the first time through.

I very seldom take anything out because I assume it will become necessary later in the story. I trust my characters.

Two days ago, I must’ve been off my game. In a little over an hour of cycling, my POV character added 387 words to what I’d written the day before. I was almost relieved to get back to the white space.

Well, I’m always relieved to get back to the white space. And anxious to find out what happens next. (grin)

How Series Come About for WITD Writers

“There are many ways to write,” the pundits say, “and whatever way works for you is best.”

Well, unless you tell those same pundits you write one clean “draft,” then submit or publish it and move on to the next story.

Then they backtrack. Because after all, what could Stephen King, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Lee Child, Vin Zandri, Dean Wesley Smith, I, and almost all other long-term professional writers possibly know about writing fiction?

What we know is that Time is our most precious commodity, and we much prefer to be racing through the next story with our characters instead of hovering over one work for weeks or months or years.

Folks, one hour spent “looking for” things and revising or rewriting instead of putting new words on the page or cycling is an hour thrown out the window of your life. Don’t do it.

The pundits all follow the myths of writing, of course. And they never quite get around to defining “what works.”

If by “what works” they mean it’s sensible to

  • labor for months or years over an outline,
  • spend six months writing a 50- or 60,000 word novel (a mean average of 277 to 333 words per day, about 20 minutes’ work),
  • then revise,
  • then seek input from a critique group,
  • then rewrite, and
  • after writing two such novels in a year, believe themselves “prolific”….

Well, then our definition of “what works” differs greatly.

Those are the folks whose series are planned, plotted, laid-out almost word for word, thought by careful thought, until the entirety of the original story is gone.

And by “original story,” I mean the unique story the characters would have lived. And would have let you run through it with them if only they’d been given a chance. If only you had trusted them to live the story the way they actually lived it.

You know, like you live your own mostly spontaneous life.

That’s just head-shakingly sad, not to mention cowardly.

How can any writer even breathe, much less write, while constantly laboring under the overpowering shadow of all that fear?

  • Fear of getting something “wrong.”
  • Fear of being rejected by some 20-something reading slush piles in New York.
  • Fear of being successful (How will I ever do that again?)
  • Fear your Aunt Marge won’t like what your characters say or do.

It’s all bullscat. The only thing to fear is that you haven’t conveyed the unique, fresh story your characters so graciously invited you to experience with them.

Besides, if your sole intent isn’t to enjoy the process, to experience exhilarating fun while racing through the trenches of the story with the characters to find out what will happen next, seriously, why bother?

Chances are you won’t get rich from writing. You certainly won’t get rich overnight. So why not go fishing or find something else to do that you actually enjoy?

  • Ask Vin Zandri how he makes money writing fiction.
  • Read Stephen King’s On Writing (if you haven’t key it into your search engine).
  • Read almost any of Dean Wesley Smith’s books on writing.
  • You don’t even have to ask me. Keep reading this article or just download the free Journal Archives and see for yourself.

And consider, while all the pundits are pressuring you to outline, revise, seek critical input, and rewrite, I’m not pressuring you to do anything.

I’m only saying, “Hey, you really ought’a try this. Trust yourself and your characters and write what happens as you run through the story with them. You won’t be sorry.”

And if it doesn’t work, you can always go back to plodding—er, I mean plotting.

Which (finally) brings me to today’s topic.

How we who write off into the dark—who enjoy and trust ourselves and our characters—write series. And how those series come about in the first place.

  • First and foremost, we come down out of the ivory tower and lose the glistening Authorial Robes.
  • We slip into jeans, a t-shirt, and a pair of sneakers.
  • Then we leap into the trenches of the story and race through it with our characters, trying to keep up and knowing that eventually they will lead us to the end of the short story or novel.

Okay, that’s fine for writing, but how do series come about for we who buck the advice of the pundits?

Simple. A character from a previous story or novel tugs on our sleeve or pops back into our mind and says, “Seriously, don’t you wanna know what happens next?”

And we say, “Why yes. Yes I do.” (grin) And a series is born.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

“Enemies and Frenemies” Hmm. Maybe I’m actually your enemy. I will always tell you the truth about writing.

How to Create Mood Effectively in Your Fiction

Notes from the Fiction Factory

“The Shroud Key” Flash Sale, More FREE Audio Codes, and New Kindle Vella!

Some Things to Expect in 2024

Learning Copyright

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 1070

Writing of Blackwell Ops 11: More Jeremy Stiles (novel)

Day 1…… 5214 words. To date…… 5214
Day 2…… 2657 words. To date…… 7871
Day 3…… 2481 words. To date…… 10352
Day 4…… 0923 words. To date…… 11275
Day 5…… 3424 words. To date…… 14699
Day 6…… 3649 words. To date…… 18348
Day 7…… 3334 words. To date…… 21682
Day 8…… 4633 words. To date…… 26315

Fiction for October…………………… 18444
Fiction for 2023………………………… 235986
Fiction since August 1………………… 121439
Nonfiction for October……………… 7340
Nonfiction for the year……………… 205680
Annual consumable words………… 441606

2023 Novels to Date……………………… 4
2023 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2023 Short Stories to Date……………… 6
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 75
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)…… 234
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.