A Look-Ahead to 2017 from a Writer’s POV

Kristen Lamb’s post “After the Dumpster Fire of 2016—How to Make 2017 ROCK!” is an inspirational look-ahead for writers and how to accomplish more and better writing in the new year.

new year graphic

One thing you should be doing is reading. After all reading books is probably what brought you to the craft of writing in the first place.  A quote from Kristen, for writers about reading, especially if you swear you don’t have the time:

Reading is how we hone our skills and learn. I do a lot of editing and one of my biggest complaints with new writers is it is clear they do not read. They beat up a lot of the same words, the same tired descriptions and their dialogue sounds like a bad soap opera. Often I can tell in less than ten pages they have no plot.

But these are the same folks who will claim they have no time to read.

I read about three books a week. No I don’t sit with a nice hard back the way I would prefer. I listen to audio books and it isn’t my preference but it works with all I have to do. I can’t sit and leisurely page through while folding laundry. I can, however, listen to an audio book and with Kindle Unlimited and an Audible membership I can afford my habit.

No, not all writers are plotters, but I will be blunt. Pansters really are plotters but the reason they can get away with not sitting and outlining is they literally have read so many books that structure is hardwired into their brains and they can navigate a 60,000-110,000 word story intuitively.

Successful pantsers are extremely well read (plotters too but pantsers even more so).

If we don’t spend time reading, we will probably spend way more time with crappy drafts. Most people are not born writing savants. Stephen King didn’t become Stephen King without reading fiction and using others to refine his craft.

You can read the post in its entirety here.


Tip for Writing Dialogue: Don’t Overuse Names

dialogue imageToday, I want to give you a tip on the overuse of characters’ names in dialogue — as a writer, I avoid this, but as an editor, I see it all too often. It goes something like this:

“John, go to dinner with me,” said Maria. “And look, there’s Connor.” Maria approached Connor. “Connor, so good to see you.”

“Hi, Maria and John, good to see you, too.” They all took a seat at a round table near the water.

Looking at John, Maria asked, “What would you like to eat, John? Fish or chips?”

But John stayed silent.

Connor laughed and said, “Oh, Maria, I think I’ll have both fish and chips.” Then he looks at John. “What about you, John?”

“Why, Connor, I think I’ll only have the chips. And a large glass of scotch.”

Do you see what I’m getting at? A skilled writer will clue the reader in to who is talking and to whom they are talking without using names because in real life, if we’re looking at someone, we don’t say his or her name. If you can’t tell who is speaking or to whom they are speaking, then the characters are written too homogeneously or the lead-in descriptors are not written well.

I don’t have enough time to write some great dialogue here, but if I were to rework the crapola above, it would go something like this:

With their meeting over, and a great restaurant merely steps away, Maria made a quick decision. Glancing at John, she said, “Go to dinner with me?” She gestured toward the patio restaurant and then spied their friend Connor. “Look Connor’s already here.”

They walked toward his table and he stood up and greeted them warmly.

“So good to see you,” she continued.

“Hey, you two, are you eating?” he asked. “Have a seat at my table.”

As soon as they were seated , Maria perused the menu. She glanced at John who seemed a little too quiet. Was he annoyed? “What would you like to eat? Fish or chips?” It was a little joke, but John stayed silent.

Connor laughed. “I think I’ll have both fish and chips.” He turned to John. “What about you?”

Looking a little sour, John said, “I think I’ll just have the chips. And a large glass of scotch.”

Again, I admit, it’s not a great scene, but I hope you get the idea. If you’re a writer, consider not “namecalling” as much in your dialogue because if I’m you’re editor, I’m going to slash and burn those names.

How Bad Is My Dog’s Breath?

I just realized that my dog’s breath is so bad — and actually quite indescribable in its particular aroma — that I am distracted to the point of being unable to concentrate at my desk and get my daily quota of writing done. Here is the culprit, right at my feet, directly under my keyboard:


He is snoozing peacefully, unaware of the mayhem he is causing while dreaming of his next meal.

“Perry,” I call to him so I can take a picture of his gorgeous mutt-ly face.

He pointedly ignores me. (Apparently, he had been taking lessons from the cat!!)

“Perry, look up at mommy.” More ignoring and wafting of hot doggy breath.

Then I shake the bag of cat kibble that I keep as the most delicious of treats.

cat kibble treats

Instantly, he looks at me. There’s my beautiful boy from Tennessee:

Perry under my desk

And as I gaze into his chocolate brown eyes, I realize that despite the whole breath thing, he is my best canine friend, and as the days have become cooler, he has been thoughtfully warming my feet with lungfuls of his own used air. So sweet (Perry, I mean, not his breath!)

Anyway, next post will be about my latest release, The Black Knight’s Reward, and nothing about dog breath.


Harlan Ellison, Kristen Lamb, and Making Money

by WheresTristanJust want to pass along this good rant by Kristen Lamb on writers getting paid (demanding to be paid, not being paid, etc.), called “Pay the Write.” Make sure you click on the link in her post to Harlan Ellison‘s pithy rant as well. Good way to end 2015–reminding ourselves that we’re professionals who need to be paid for our work, especially in this climate of free e-books and 99-cent sales!

Kristen’s blog post starts like this:

All righty. I’d vowed to take off for the holidays but *laughs hysterically* sure. Like THAT was going to happen. No, seriously, I’m working on resting more. I’m also working on learning to shut up. Clearly those two goals are getting re-slated for 2016 resolutions because the whole “Inside words stay inside…”

Not working out for me. So why not leave 2015 with a bang? Haters gonna hate.

To quote the great Tywin Lannister, Lions do not concern themselves with the opinions of sheep.

Today I’m going to say something that could quite possibly be grossly unpopular, but whatever. It’s for your own good. I’m feeding y’all broccoli to offset all that fudge and alcohol you’ve consumed during the holidays.

There’s a trend that just makes me see red and I’m calling it out today because if we do not address this 500 pound used paper elephant in the room, then it’s going to be really, really hard for you guys to reach your dreams, which I assume is to work as a full-time PAID writer.

For those of you who do NOT want to be PAID to write? The following does not apply. If you are content to work a full-time regular job AND slave over a manuscript as a second job and your ONLY reward is simply nice reviews, compliments, hugs, cuddles, and the joy your stories might create in the hearts of others?

I am NOT talking to you.

And just gets better. Go on, take a read here.