Other Cool Blogs: Civilian Reader August 1, 2017

Photo by Jens Lindner on Unsplash

Plans Change

“But-but-but…,” I stare at the screen, “You are not following the outline.”

The character looks back at me, smirking, “You want real characters, then we get to decide our own actions.”

Book Cover for Honestly

In Honestly, I had carefully set up a sexy encounter in the laundry room. And I waited, and I waited. Nothing happened. Eventually, Kassandra and Troy take Troy’s laundry down to his room. Whatever. I just kept typing. Suddenly, when I – the writer – have forgotten about things and Kassandra starts up the stairs again Troy stops the story.

“But…you…grrr….(sputter unintelligible things)” and then I typed.

The reason that scene is so organic is it just happened. I didn’t write it. My characters did.

Joshua Palmatier discusses the issue of the characters running off with story in a guest post on Civilian Reader. He had it much worse than my little hiccup. They didn’t change just one scene, but the whole final book of a trilogy to the point he needed to talk to his editor because the book he was writing wasn’t the book he sold them.

Important take away: “…if the characters don’t at some point take control and do unexpected things, then the book isn’t succeeding.

Other Cool Blogs: Magical Words April 1, 2017

Acquired from the internet hive mind

NaNo – Well, This Isn’t Going As Planned

So much for my science fiction thriller I planned in my head all of October and attacked the first day of National Novel Writing Month. The second day I did the “Butt In Chair – Hands on Keyboard” … and I got a blog posting. In fact I got several blog postings. Sunset and sunrise saw me return for the BIC-HOK, and, well, I have a blog for today.

If this keeps up, my blog for 2017 may get completed before the end of the month and 2018 could have a great jump start.

Novel, not so much.

It breaks the rules, and I hate breaking rules. NaNoWritMo is about writing Novels – fictional pieces, long-form. Most of my blogs, and that is what my brain is providing right now, are neither. 

On the other hand after nearly two years of brain-to-keyboard disconnect, I am happy with ANY production. I just would have been happier to have salable production.

The plus side is I will have the basics for the Writing Exercise non-fiction book I have been thinking about.

Writing is a weird thing. The biggest discipline is “Butt in Chair – Hands on Keyboard”. Forcing your mind to stop thinking about writing and actually doing writing requires will-power; depending on the day and how long the habit has been in place, a great deal of will-power. After directing the will-power to the initial task of BIC-HOK, discipline in directing your mind in specific writing tasks can be lacking.

Sometimes it makes magic. Rarely does it meet deadlines.

Melissa Gilbert-McArthur wrote a Magical Words on the combination of BIC and deadlines, and it can be found here: http://www.magicalwords.net/melissa-gilbert/friday-fundamentals-deadlines/. Power to her for having the will power to pull off both at once.

Me, I am going to take the writing bug and get a little more blogging done.

WRITING EXERCISE: Butt-in-chair. Sit in your writer seat for half an hour today and write something. Do it again tomorrow. Do it five days in a row. Half an hour in your writer seat. No internet, no facebook, no twitter. If you live with someone, hand them your phone and walk to your seat and start. BIC-HOK and write. There you go -the first five days of the twenty-one days to create a new habit. The rest is up to you.

Other Cool Blogs: Liana Brooks June 23, 2016

Break thru your writing goals

Writing Meme created by Erin Penn

Getting Ready for NaNoWritMo

Like many writers, I will be participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWritMo) in just a few short days. In preparation I visited the six-day Boot Camp Liana Brooks created in 2014 and republished in 2016 on her new blog, when I asked her if she could because it has been so useful to me.

The first Day concentrated on “Establish a Baseline“. In the thinly veiled co-operative Massive Online Game called NaNoWritMo, word count is king.

I like to point out writing 50 thousand words in a month and the techniques brought to bare to accomplish this are not exactly the professional process writers use, but NaNoWritMo does provide some of the skills, and the chance to test those skills, used by writers. It’s a game with lots of cool graphics, side quests, and companions; fun to play once a year. But if you go to it time and again and learn new “cheats” each time, the play becomes habit and the habit may become a profession.

Anyway, back to word count. Professional writers use metrics to meet deadlines; they learn the amount of pages or words they need to write each day. Establishing a baseline for NaNoWritMo develops the deadline/metric skills. Ms. Brooks provides four exercises to figure out your word count needs.

See the full blog post here: http://www.lianabrooks.com/nanowrimo-boot-camp-day-1-establish-a-base-line/

The upside of playing the NaNoWritMo game? At the end-of-the-month you have more to show for your efforts than the high score on a leader board. Even if you don’t “win”, you have words on paper.

WRITING EXERCISE: Do all four exercises as though you are thinking about participating in NaNoWritMo.


My results

  1. Ten-minute speed. While I type about 50 words per minute, writing speed is much slower as I think things out. Instead of 500 words, it’s more like 100 words if I have the basics in my head or 50 words if I am still sorting things out. Let’s go with 75 per ten minutes.
  2. Until you can’t write anymore. Somewhere between 2 and a half and three hours I need a break, brain feels like it is leaking at that point. I really should set things up so I stop every 2 hours.
  3. Days of writing in November: I have at least four days where I am not going to write, so let’s say 25 days I can write. Calculation – Word count needed is 2,000 per day. A 2-hour block produces 900 words; I need two 2-hour blocks.
  4. What I need: Just need quiet and no other urgent tasks. I can only work on one major project at a time, therefore must complete the tax training before NaNoWritMo.

Other Cool Blogs: Magical Words April 11, 2011

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Starry-eyed teens in love with writing, new writers with a nearly finished manuscript at home, and people flashing and shorting their way to their first anthology all have something in common. They need to define when they succeed.

Writing is a tough business. Most success is measured in money. By that measure, few writers ever succeed.

David B. Coe, who by most writers’ measurements is successful, touched on this topic in More on Success and Rejection during a 2011 Magical Words posting.

When I talk to people interested in writing, I tell them to define their success now. Record it.

Otherwise when moving up in the publishing world they will continue to compare success to the level (or levels) above where they are, never seeing the success of the journey they made. The object of recording a first level of success is celebrating when reaching it, then setting another one – like graduation from high school then moving on to a first job or college.

Success in the writing world for a beginner isn’t about huge stacks of cash or being a best seller on the New York Times list. That is like telling a T-baller to shoot for the Hall of Fame, ignoring the millions of other T-ballers and the hundreds of other success levels between. If you only care about the fame and fortune, find a different aspiration. 

What goals would be a good first success? It depends on the person. For some, the writing goal is to complete a story, others is acceptance by a publishing company – any company, others it is having a real book with their name on the spine, others it is selling one book to someone else, and still others having a book signing is when they feel the success. Once a goal is clearly defined, choosing a path between self-published and traditional becomes clearer, or whether publication is needed at all.

Remember other people’s goals and success is not yours. For someone, they may want to make a living to be successful, but that might not be you. Getting a single book completely written, sold, edited, and published is pretty awesome.

Don’t be afraid to aim low. Taking a step on a staircase isn’t self-defeating – trying to jump up to the third story in one leap is.

Figure out what your goal is.

I’ve posted some of mine over the years. Starting a blog. Completing a self-published book. Setting up a website. Being a guest at a convention. Getting published by someone else. Participating in an anthology. Each goal isn’t big, but I have reached them. Future goals include getting more books published, getting into more anthologies, and editing a best-seller. 

WRITING EXERCISE: Create one simple goal to reach for this year. Does it depend on stuff entirely under your control or do others have an impact on it? Example: submitting to five anthologies is under your control, being accepted by one isn’t. Although, one (being accepted by an anthology) isn’t going to happen without the submission. Define your simple goal with activities entirely under your control; you can add a bonus for results requiring responses of others to your activities.