Editing Rants: Begin to End

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Editing a manuscript when I hit this gem: “…almost started to end the conversation …”

and I am going to let them keep it. It’s a literary work not genre. The rule of “we don’t care what you almost did, started to do, might do, could do – we only want to know about what the character DID do – action-all-the-time.” doesn’t apply for the thinky-feely character emotional study of literary work.

I’m going to curl up in a ball or hit something hard when I done this 70K edit.

You – you genre(*) writers – don’t ever write “start to end” or “almost started”. Just don’t!

If you do, fix it in drafts before your editor sees it.

(*) Genre – romance, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, etc.

Other Cool Blogs: Magical Words May 23, 2014

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Mind the Gap

Magical Words continues to give in the new year, despite being shut down, as I review the website again and again for advice. This one is from Jodi McIsaac,Three Tools for Plotting Success“.

  1. Don’t get stuck on the Hero’s Journey
  2. Mind the gap
  3. Twenty bad ideas.

To me, “Mind the Gap” spoke the loudest. It defines reversal of expectation driving a plot, creating surprise and freshness, better than any other writing advice I have read. And “Twenty Bad Ideas” seems like a really good way to avoid common trope pitfalls.

Want to figure out which of the three makes the most impact for you? Go here:

WRITING EXERCISE: Look over your present work-in-progress for a Gap and a scene without a Gap. Which scene is stronger? Which one keeps the pages turning? Can the scene without the Gap have a Gap added?


In my flash, The Bleue Toscano Eggs of Power, the supervillain Viper arrives thinking to attack a building. Instead he ends up working on surviving an explosion and escaping the superhero Power Fists. The second scene has him calmly accepting an item, and soon discovers he is out-of-his-depth in the technological world. In both cases his goals changed considerably. 

Book Review: Wool

Book Cover from Amazon

Wool by Hugh Howey


Thousands of them have lived underground. They’ve lived there so long, there are only legends about people living anywhere else. Such a life requires rules. Strict rules. There are things that must not be discussed. Like going outside. Never mention you might like going outside.

Or you’ll get what you wish for.



This one is a little weird to write up. Originally published as a short story of only 50 pages, the story was so popular Mr. Howey was encouraged to write a followup, and then another, until he wrote a total of five books in a series (over 500 pages available as a single omnibus as well as sold separately). And that series did so well he added another trilogy. And that did so well he is allowing others to write in his Silo world. So do I rate the story as a short story or the first of a series? Because as a short story it is thought-provoking and as a series introduction, the world-building has huge holes unacceptable for the long-form.

Mr. Howey writes some pretty good short stories that make you think. A number of his stories available on Amazon show his like for this format. “Wool”, as a short story, follows a man mourning his wife and dealing with a post-apocalyptic world where everyone is locked in a buried multistory building with only a few windows to the outside world, which slowly get covered in grime. The story covers both the present day and the history leading to his wife’s death. Wool removes the grime and allows clear-seeing to how the world really is. “Wool” is a solid short story worthy of a good anthology or collection.

As the first of a series, “Wool” lacks a lot. The survival just doesn’t seem possible. To start, how does the central staircase survive? Diamond treads wear off in just a couple of decades, not the 200 plus years they have been inside and using this as a major thoroughfare. Yes, no weather – still humans produce a lot of water naturally. Moisture and rust and use would have killed this in the first 50 years. Second, where does the wool come from – or any of the cleaning products. A carbon suit? Argon? The digital screen? So much is just not possible. I don’t know if he resolved these issues in later books. Again, his original book was not aimed at being anything but a short story and short story worlds do not need to make complete sense. They need to get a reaction – and this story definitely achieves that.

But not enough, for me at least, to continue in this depressing post-apocalyptic world. I agree with the main character who says the children books with green and blue just speak to a person. You know those are the correct colors. I don’t want to read about a people locked in a buried tower without sunlight or hope. Although it would be interesting to see how they survive. How it changes what it means to be human.

Picked up while free on Kindle; using typical marketing model – first of a five book series, with the first book free.

Blog: New Year 2018

Image acquired from; Text added by Erin Penn

Each year I share my writing goals. I did awesome in 2016. 2017 ended with a splash, but my writing goal achievement was lackluster. On the other hand, the fire rooster of 2017 brought my editing activity onto the front burners, nearly boiling over in August and September. I hope the 2018 dog year balances the two halves of my word-smithing soul, with the continued fun of editing and the creative joy of writing.

Review of 2017 Goals:

  1. Completed the transfer of my stand-alone blog to the website.
  2. The blog on the website, while not constant, ended the year close to the three posts a week goal.
  3. Publication did not happen, not of novels or flirts, but thanks to NaNoWritMo a non-fiction book on writing exercises is in the works.
  4. Submit to three anthologies. Did not happen.
  5. Bonus goal: Panelist at convention. Did not happen. But I did go to DragonCon for the first time.
  6. Not a goal: Became a content editor, with six books in various stages of the publication process. Man, did this change around writing efforts.

The goals for 2018 under my power:

  1. Join the 500 club every day – specific to sale-able product. (The 500 club is writing 500 words. Do this every day for a year and I will have 150,000 words. Allowed to have one day a week off, but only one.)
  2. Keep the blog on the website strong. Three posts a week.
  3. Publish (either by others or by self) a non-fiction book and at least two fictional works of 10K or more words.
  4. Submit to three anthologies.

Bonus Actions (not under my power):

  1. Publish in an anthology.
  2. Publish under a publishing company in addition to self-publication.
  3. Shepherd at least three books to final publication through the editing process. Add at least three more books the pipeline.

What I am letting go

  1. Multiple conventions. Unless I am producing things for people to buy, I can’t justify attending conventions. I need a year to concentrate on writing.