June Online Workshops Start in One Week

JUNE ONLINE WORKSHOPS START IN ONE WEEK

All of the JUNE Online Workshops have openings. Click the workshop button for description and sign-up. There is still time.

Each workshop is six weeks long and takes about 3-4 hours per week to do.

More information and how to sign up for a workshop is under the green button or under Online Workshops tab above. Workshop #51 will be new and announced shortly.

All workshops have openings at the moment.

Class #51… June 1st … Advanced Depth (New!)
Class #52… June 1st … How to Write Series Novels
Class #53… June 1st … Discoverability
Class #54… June 1st … Ideas into Stories
Class #55… June 2nd … Pitches and Blurbs
Class #56… June 2nd … Depth in Writing
Class #57… June 2nd … Productivity
Class #58… June 3rd … Designing Covers
Class #59… June 3rd … Writing and Selling Short Stories
Class #60… June 3rd … How to Write Science Fiction


JULY, AUGUST, AND SEPTEMBER WORKSHOPS SIGN-UP UNDER THE GREEN TAB.

ALL WORKSHOPS START ON MONDAY, TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY.

 

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Stages of a Fiction Writer: Chapter Six

(Almost done with this short book. One more chapter after this. Patreon supporters, you will get the full book sent to you when it is all done. Please note: This is advanced reader copy. This has not been proofed. That will be taken care of when I turn in the final book to WMG Publishing.)


STAGES OF A FICTION WRITER

Chapter Six

Stage four in writing is hard, at best, to describe because for most writers, it is a level of craft that is impossible to see.

So how do you move through stage three and get to stage four writing?

Mostly, the answer boils down to one simple thing: Read.

Read for pleasure.

Then when you find a book that you really, really enjoyed, go back and study it until you understand what the writer did to hold you in the book, what made you enjoy the book besides the subject.

Study at different times all aspects of the book.

For example:

— Understand the many, many, many different types of cliffhangers the author used.

— Understand the pacing of the scenes, the characters, the setting. (Yes, setting has pacing.)

— Understand the character voice, the cadence, the syntax, the pacing and choices of words and character tags.

— Understand the structure of the book, the movement through the book, the reason the author made the choices the author made.

You do all this after you read a book and really, really love it.

Read for pleasure, then study.

 

Who to Study?

This is where I am constantly shaking my head at newer writers. They are studying other newer writers. Huh?

Newer writers are often stage three writers who had parts come together enough to make books work. If you are trying to stay in stage three, then study stage three writers.

If you are trying to move to stage four writing, study stage four writers.

Stage four writers are writers who have been producing for twenty or more years and who are bestsellers and write more than one book every few years.

Grisham is a great writer to study. You can see what he has done in his books and he is easy to study.

Koontz is a hard study because he’s so subtle. But he, more than any other writer working today besides King, is a master of more techniques than you or I can ever imagine. So study him. His Odd Thomas books are great ones to study.

The list of stage four writers to study goes on and on.

Some bestsellers are not to your taste. Granted.

But if you think that a long-term bestseller such as Cussler can’t write, and you are stage two or early stage three writer, you need to catch a very large clue.

And if you think Patterson can’t write (when he writes alone), you need your writing mind examined.

Granted, long-term, major-selling stage four writers might not be to your taste. But they know what they are doing and you could learn from them if you open your mind.

There is a reason that hundreds of thousands of people buy every book a major bestseller puts out year after year for decade after decade. Figure out what that reason (actually it is a thousand writing skill reasons) is if you really want to get to stage four.

Study them.

And there are many stage four writers who fly under the radar for most people. Many, many, many of us, actually.

A prime example is Joyce Carol Oates.

Another prime example is my wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Both would be worth your time to study. Those two write what they want and often the subject matter they tackle is not a subject that has a lot of readers. They don’t care. They write what they love and both have been major bestsellers for decades and both have won more awards than I can imagine. (And I see those awards stacked all over my wife’s office and learning against shelves and waiting to be framed and so on.)

In mystery, there are numbers and numbers of writers who are stage four and most students would not think to study them.

Lawrence Block, Edward Gorman, Barry Malzberg, to name just three of many.

Or study John D. McDonald’s Travis McGee series. You’ll have to reread those many times to start seeing the real genius of McDonald in those books.

Same guidelines on who to study applies to romance and westerns and so on.

So read for pleasure, study to advance your own art after enjoying a book.

Never study during a first read, unless a book is not to your taste subject-wise. For example, Daniele Steele is not to my taste, but I have purposely studied numbers of her books to really understand what she does and to learn.

 

Some Problem Areas Common in Stage Three Writers to Cure

Stage four writers are in control of their readers. Any reader in any walk of life or age or country.

Stage four writers control readers. Period.

Stage three writers are often writers who haven’t learned even the basics of doing that.

A few examples:

— Fake Details.

Stage three writers often use fake details and thus lose control over their readers. Fake details comes from stage one and stage two when writers think they need to add in setting, so they type it in instead of running the setting through the opinions and emotions of a character.

Example I use all the time in classes is the word “barn.” A total fake detail because without emotions and descriptions through a character, every reader imagines a barn from his or her own past. And trust me, not all barns look the same.

The word “tree” is another commonly used fake detail. Example… He walked among the trees.

Check in with the image that appeared in your mind when I wrote that. It will be different for every reader.

But what I meant was… He walked among the short Noble fir trees, brushing his hands over their tops gently, enjoying the silk feel of their needles and the thick smell of rich fir, knowing that in six months most of these tree would be gone, decorated with bulbs and lights in homes around the country and he would have enough money to barely live for yet another year.

Yeah, trees is a fake detail unless you run it through the senses and emotions of a character.

Learning how to do that is a step toward stage four.

 

A Major Area of Stage Four Writing.

Pacing…

Pacing is an area of writing that is impossible to see until you reach a level of skill that allows the mind to understand just the lower levels of the skill and art of pacing.

Lower levels of pacing are often used, without knowing, by stage three writers.

Hitting the return key, understanding that content drives the look of the manuscript, the length of the sentences, the size of the paragraphs. Many stage three writers work into this knowledge in the later areas of stage three.

But there is so much more to pacing than just knowing where to put a period and when to hit a return key. Those basics must be learned first, granted. But let me give you an example of a higher level, stage four level, of pacing.

This one area is easy to see, but impossible to implement at first.

How to see this one area of pacing: Go to an airport, park yourself off to one side in a chair looking at a busy hallway. The best place is just outside a security area as people are moving from the ticket counter to security.

Now with only pacing in mind, watch the people.

A woman chicken-steps past in high heals.

Click. Click. Click. Click.

Very fast.

Pulling a carryon.

Intent. Gaze forward.

Often phone or ticket in hand.

Next a man in jeans, a jacket, and tennis shoes strides past, seemingly without a care in the world.

His gait looks long, his shoes make no sounds, his eyes up and looking ahead.

He wears a backpack and seems to be in no hurry at all, a smile on his face as he enjoys the walk like a day in the park.

Behind the strider comes a man in a fairly cheap, off-the-rack business suit.

Too much cologne drifts behind him like a toxic cloud.

He walks with purpose, his stride medium. His cheap (but polished) shoes make a thumping sound in the hallway.

His tie pulled up tight against his neck. His coat buttoned to prescription.

His phone against the side of his head.

His dark eyes intense.

He acts like the phone call signals the end of the world.

Characters have pacing, just as scenes, chapters, setting, and dialog have pacing.

Yeah, I know, seems impossible to just do, and it is impossible to do from the critical voice. And rewriting always kills such things.

This must all be learned and then come out of the creative voice.

And I’m not even going to try to explain things like story voice, story tone, genre tone, and so on into meta-details. You’ll get there if you read for pleasure and then go study.

 

The Key and a Focus Point To Move Forward

Stage four is about control.

Just as I used the stage four poker players as an example of how they try to control what others think they have, stage four writers are complete mind-control artists.

Stage four writers make sure that no matter what question in a story a reader has, it is answered at the right moment.

So to start working through stage three and toward stage four, start focusing on control.

Learn the basics of pacing, learn depth and how to control readers with your openings, learn how to relay details through emotions and setting.

Control.

Do three things:

— One, read for pleasure, then study books you have read for the learning.

— Open your eyes when out in the real world and start seeing other people and paying attention to them. Pay attention to the patterns and the tags and everything.

— Learn business as you go because all stage four writers know the publishing business. You might get to stage four writing levels, but it will do you no good in this new world if you are also not a stage four business person.

And no, there is no business in this book. This is a craft book. I just wanted to make sure to mention that right here because it is that critical.

Stage four writers are balanced in all their writing skill sets and in their business.

And they are in control of all of it.

Takes time and a lot of practice, but you can get there.
——–

You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more as time goes on. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.

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Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 10, Day 26

Year 2, Month 10, Day 26 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Meetings at WMG, then home to finish up the week’s assignments, then write.

WORKSHOPS

Got the last assignments for the week done.

Also, June workshops will be starting up next Monday. Yeah, I know, that snuck up on all of us. Still openings in all of them.

THE DAY

Basically, off to WMG meeting at 2 p.m., then Kris and I walked to dinner, then Kris walked home while I headed out to the store to do some business. Then I got home to work on the assignments.

Got that done around 10 p.m., finished up most of the Stages of a Fiction Writer book, then watched some television, then back to writing at 2 a.m. The last chapter will be up tomorrow.

THE WRITING

I got two sessions in tonight, starting at 2 p.m. on this really twisted and complex book. I am trying to blend in two of my major universes because the origin of the jukebox is in the Thunder Mountain world. Great fun, great challenge.

I managed in two sessions, 2,750 words. A decent night for such a late start.

Walter White Kitty not happy that I had to move him from my writing chair into my internet chair.

Chair #4

TOPIC OF THE NIGHT: The post above on Stages of a Fiction Writer: Chapter Six

———–

Writing of the novel Melody Ridge

Day 1… 1,000 words… Total so far on the book… 1,000 words
Day 2… 1,500 words… Total so far on the book… 2,500 words
Day 3… 1,100 words… Total so far on the book… 3,600 words
Day 4… 2,750 words… Total so far on the book… 6,350 words

———–

Totals For Year 2, Month 10, Day 26

— Daily Fiction: 2,750 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 24,000 words  

— Nonfiction: 1,600 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 8,450 words

— Blog Posts: 400 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 10,300 words

— E-mail: 19 e-mails. Approx. 1,100 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 542 e-mails. Approx. 26,400 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 5 Covers

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

——–

You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more as time goes on. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.

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Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 10, Day 25

Year 2, Month 10, Day 25 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Got back to some writing tonight, but not a great deal, but had a decent day getting things done.

WORKSHOPS

Got the Monday assignments all done. I got to read some really fun short stories tonight for the short story workshop. Really fun.

Also, June workshops will be starting up next Monday. Yeah, I know, that snuck up on all of us.

THE DAY

Basically, I spent the afternoon up at WMG getting an issue of Smith’s Monthly off to the printers.  Those of you who are Patreon supporters will get it later this week.

Got it done and had to do one cover in the process. Another issue is back from the copyeditor, so I will be powering on it this week.

THE WRITING

Just one session of 1,100 words. Spent too much time watching television tonight.

Walter White Kitty wondering why I wouldn’t just leave him alone and let him nap in my writing chair.

got six

TOPIC OF THE NIGHT: Books Not Selling.

In this new world of indie publishing, the great fear I hear all the time, over and over and over, is that a writer will write a book, put it out there, and it won’t sell. And that fear just stops people cold.

I always nod because this fear is often coming from writers who are early stage writers, who think writing is “important” and that such a result would crush their spirits. Let me tell you, if writing a novel that doesn’t sell will cause you to quit writing, let me save you some time. Quit now. You are not cut out for publishing. Yikes, so harsh and so true.

We all write novels that don’t sell. I have one book I wrote for a major New York publisher that, on the last royalty statement they sent me, had sold 632 copies. Total. In three years.

I was paid $25,000 to write the book. Not kidding.

So even your vaulted myths of traditional publishing won’t guarantee sales.

And what is even more silly is the phrase “not selling.” That usually means the writer has some imaginary number in their head wrapped into the fear that anything below that imaginary number would be “not selling” and thus a disaster that would cause them to question their writing skills.

(It will not make them question, however, their poor covers and dull blurbs and the fact that they put a suspense novel in a thriller category.)

So honestly, what I am thinking when I hear some writer express this fear is simply, “Write the next book.”

I seldom say that with my out loud voice. Too rude to the poor beginning writer who has “special talents” to make every book they write sell. Or some such silliness.

Also, writers need to realize that most books submitted to traditional publishing will never sell. That means zero sales. Zippo. Some gatekeeper somewhere stopped you and played even more into your fear.

And honestly, most books published indie won’t sell many copies for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is that the author is just a new writer.

So if you find yourself fearing what will happen if you put a book out and it won’t sell, ask yourself what makes you so special to think your first or second or third novel would sell? Were you sprinkled with fairy dust that tells you that you don’t need to learn how to be a professional storyteller? You think you can just write bestselling books like magic?

That fear of a book not selling is just flat silly, folks. And yet that fear stops so many writers from finishing novels. And thus, the fear guarantees the novel will never sell. An unfinished novel seldom does.

So when you discover that is your fear, that the fear is slowing you down or making you rewrite and polish like your poor manuscript is a car that needs a wax job, realize one major thing: You have nothing to lose by finishing and getting the book out there. 

But if you let the fear stop you from finishing, you have lost everything.

Totals For Year 2, Month 10, Day 25

— Daily Fiction: 1,100 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 21,250 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 6,850 words

— Blog Posts: 800 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 9,900 words

— E-mail: 26 e-mails. Approx. 1,300 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 523 e-mails. Approx. 25,300 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 1. Covers finished month-to-date: 5 Covers

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

——–

You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more as time goes on. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.

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Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 10, Day 24

Year 2, Month 10, Day 24 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Got back to some writing tonight.

WORKSHOPS

Sunday night assignments for the first four workshops in May. Seems the holiday here in the States cut down the number of people who got assignments in. Made it easy for me.

THE DAY

Headed to the writer lunch at 2 p.m., then back to WMG Publishing offices around 4 to work on Smith’s Monthly. Got some done.

Then home for a nap, which I didn’t take, then dinner, news and dishes. Then I did the assignments for the workshops and by 11 p.m. after some research on a future project, I got to writing.

THE WRITING

Actually made some progress on the new novel.

I did about 1,100 words getting going, then took a break to watch a bunch of television, then back up here to do another 1,400 words, a short break, another 700 words, then I called it a night at 3,200 words and glad to be going strong at this, finally.

Walter White Kitty and an issue of Smith’s Monthly.

Walter and #9

TOPIC OF THE NIGHT: Sort of a repeat from last night… Doing Sales Language.

Dan Sawyer put together some really nifty audio promos for the new Story Bundle at Storybundle.com. All are amazing, but Dan’s promo works great for a point I tend to try to make a lot. No passive voice in sales.

Dan Audio Promo.

Now understand, Dan knows sales and audio. You want to study sales language for your blurbs, listen and understand what Dan did in that short audio promo. This is how it’s done right, folks. If you all wrote blurbs this good with sales language, you would sell more books. Honest.

 

Storybundle.com/writing

All Covers Jutoh Large

 

Totals For Year 2, Month 10, Day 24

— Daily Fiction: 3,200 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 20,150 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 6,850 words

— Blog Posts: 400 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 9,100 words

— E-mail: 17 e-mails. Approx. 600 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 497 e-mails. Approx. 24,000 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 4 Covers

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

——–

You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more as time goes on. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.

Oo4th_patreon_name


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Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 10, Day 23

Year 2, Month 10, Day 23 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Just not a good day today. Didn’t get much done.

WORKSHOPS

Nothing today.

THE DAY

Left the house around 11 a.m. to deal with some things. Made it back after lunch, then headed out to the store to work for a while.

Then I took a nap and had dinner, then went up to WMG to work. Got a little done on Smith’s Monthly, came home to do research on a new project I came up with tonight.

Television, then this, and after this sleep. Lots of sleep.

THE WRITING

Nothing tonight. But a nifty picture of Walter White Kitty.

Walter

TOPIC OF THE NIGHT: Great Audio Plugs.

Dan Sawyer put together some really nifty audio promos for the new Story Bundle at Storybundle.com. All are amazing, but Dan’s is great for a point I tend to try to make a lot. No passive voice in sales.

Dan Audio Promo.

Now understand, Dan knows sales and audio. Might not hurt some of you to listen to this to understand sales language.

The books in this one bundle flat amaze me. Plus the discount on Jutoh. Impossible to go wrong on this one.

I always talk about learning here. This bundle illustrates one way. Even if you only get a few details out of each book (you’ll get a lot more, I promise), the price of this seems scary cheap in education terms. Don’t let this one pass you by.

Storybundle.com/writing

All Covers Jutoh Large

 

Totals For Year 2, Month 10, Day 23

— Daily Fiction: 00 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 16,950 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 6,850 words

— Blog Posts: 300 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 8,700 words

— E-mail: 9 e-mails. Approx. 200 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 480 e-mails. Approx. 23,400 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 4 Covers

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

——–

You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more as time goes on. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.

Oo4th_patreon_name


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Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 10, Day 22

Year 2, Month 10, Day 22 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Worked on Smith’s Monthly formatting and web sites all day and night.

WORKSHOPS

Nothing today.

THE DAY

Left the house around 2 p.m. Snail mail to mail a bunch of tubs full of subscription copies, then after going to the store for lunch, I spent the afternoon working on Smith’s Monthly.

Home to cook dinner, then back to WMG Publishing to work on Smith’s Monthly formatting.

THE WRITING

Nothing tonight because by the time I got to my writing computer around 2:30 a.m. I had lost my brain, so did web site creation instead.

TOPIC OF THE NIGHT: Nothing tonight after last night and the night before chapter.

———–

Writing of the novel Melody Ridge

Day 1… 1,000 words… Total so far on the book… 1,000 words
Day 2… 1,500 words… Total so far on the book… 2,500 words

——————-

Totals For Year 2, Month 10, Day 21

— Daily Fiction: 00 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 16,950 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 6,850 words

— Blog Posts: 300 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 8,400 words

— E-mail: 11 e-mails. Approx. 300 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 471 e-mails. Approx. 23,200 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 4 Covers

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

——–

You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more as time goes on. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.

Oo4th_patreon_name


Tip Jar

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Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 10, Day 21

Year 2, Month 10, Day 21 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Another wild and productive day today on a bunch of fronts.

WORKSHOPS

Not much today. Just some questions, which I don’t mind answering at all.

THE DAY

Left the house around 2 p.m. Snail mail, then up to WMG Publishing to help on a bunch of stuff concerning subscriptions. I actually was just there to learn it. I would only do the actual work if the world ended or something that bad and I was the only person left standing at WMG. So only there for my own information to understand systems.

And I helped pack up the new Fiction River to ship to subscribers and authors. I actually like doing that for an hour or so. Makes me feel useful.

Then off to exercise, then back to WMG to help finish up and learn more.

Lunch was again not a possibility. Just too much going on.

And after dinner I went back to WMG to do the cover below and work on web site stuff.

THE WRITING

Well, the novel I am starting again changed titles. Started off as Echo Rock, then went to Echo Song, then at one point today was Song Rock, finally, thanks to Allyson, it went to Melody Rock and then I changed it to Melody Ridge.

I like Melody Ridge a lot and Allyson and I picked out some art we both loved (I do the covers for Smith’s Monthly and she does the cover for the novel a couple months after Smith’s Monthly comes out.) And when I saw that art I went, “Perfect. I could put that scene in the book.”

I have no idea where this book is going, but at some point along the way the scene on the cover will be in the book.

The title also fits both the jukebox story aspect of this and stays with the branding titles of Thunder Mountain series, which this book will be.

TOPIC OF THE NIGHT: Looking Back at Old Work.

I got a question today from a writer who is really working to improve and clearly is improving. But the question was about what to do with the early stories. Should the writer go back and fix them.

Now understand, every writer I have ever met has asked this question more than once. I am no exception.

The flat answer to the question is no. 

Now let me try to explain why that is the only answer possible.

The art of storytelling is a continuous learning process that never stops. Ever. And if a writer does stop learning, their career is soon over. Never seen it not work that way, sadly.

So let me use some math to explain the flaw in the question and why no writer should ever go back to fix anything, besides the obvious reasons that if you are turning around and going back into the past, you are not writing new work.

Math:

Assume you are a writer who produces ten short stories per year and two novels. And that takes most of your writing time. You have no time to rewrite old stories at that pace.

So in five years of learning and writing, you will have fifty short stories and ten novels. And your skills will be much, much better if you are learning and just producing more and more stories. It’s called practice and applied learning.

If you think your first two years of stories and novels are no longer good enough, you go back to fix the old stuff and lose an entire year of forward progress.

For every hour you spend on an old story you are losing an hour on a new story.

And now all your stories are in the 3-5 year learning area. But you have lost a lot of new stories and some novels in the process. Just because of your critical voice thinking your work will make you ashamed that you were once an early writer. We all were. Duh.

Now say you get back on track and write for five more years. Now you have a hundred old stories and twenty novels.

And you have kept learning and your craft and skill is better. But do you want to spend the year plus trying to get your older stories and novels up to the ten year point in skill?

Or the fifteen year level of skill when that comes along?

Or the twenty year level of skill?

At some point, if you keep going backwards in time rewriting, all forward momentum will be gone and you will only be drifting around, learning nothing by rewriting old stories. Your career will be over.

So at what point in your writing learning do you want to spend the time to anchor old stories?????

A writer is a person who writes. An author is a person who has written.

Now imagine my position. My first two stories I ever wrote are in print from 1974. Yikes. I should spend a few years finding those few remaining copies and burning them, right?

Uhhhh….no…. They are what they are and show some promise of a writer to come with learning.

I have a short story still in print in Writers of the Future Volume #1. Again, it shows a writer with some promise. And it still holds up after thirty years people tell me.

Would I write it differently now? Sure. I would hit the return key a ton more I’m sure, even though I have not ever gone back and reread that story. Pacing is a stage four level skill and some of my old stories when I see them make me shudder now for just pacing alone. (grin)

But they sold, they made me money, they are who I was, writing at my best skill at that point in time. And honestly, I’m proud of them. The stories and novels I wrote in the past are windows into my past, windows into my growth as a writer and storyteller.

They are the path I walked and I’m pretty damn proud of that path.

And thankfully, the stories I write now show that growth compared to older stories. And I hope the stories I write in five years will show growth from the stories I am writing now.

It never ends.

So folks, don’t turn around.

I am starting to think I stumbled onto the best rule of writing ever a long time ago. I wanted to always be moving forward.

A simple rule: Don’t ever look back.

Rewriting is going backward, not to the next story. So I don’t rewrite or even reread old stories.

And fixing old stories to new skill levels is going backwards.

I march forward. I don’t look back.

And maybe that’s why I have written so much.

You think?

———–

Writing of the novel Melody Ridge

Day 1… 1,000 words… Total so far on the book… 1,000 words
Day 2… 1,500 words… Total so far on the book… 2,500 words

——————-

 

Totals For Year 2, Month 10, Day 21

— Daily Fiction: 1,500 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 16,950 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 6,850 words

— Blog Posts: 1,200 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 8,100 words

— E-mail: 13 e-mails. Approx. 400 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 460 e-mails. Approx. 22,900 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 1. Covers finished month-to-date: 4 Covers

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

——–

You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more as time goes on. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.

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Stages of a Fiction Writer: Chapter Five

(Every day or so, sometimes longer, I will put another chapter here of this book. Patreon supporters, you will get the full book sent to you when it is all done. Please note: This is advanced reader copy. This has not been proofed. That will be taken care of when I turn in the final book to WMG Publishing.)


STAGES OF A FICTION WRITER

Chapter Five

Starting into stage four, the top stage.

I got a question after the last chapter when I put that chapter on my blog. “How many writers are in stage four?”

Think of stage four as a decent-sized town.

Selling stage three writers could fill a couple large cities. As I said earlier, most stage three writers never get past those first sales. To reach stage four, it takes an intense desire to keep learning and studying the art of storytelling.

And it flat takes years and years and millions and millions of words. Sorry, just can’t jump there. Not even slightly possible.

So What Is a Stage Four Writer?

— A writer in complete control of the art of storytelling.

— A writer who is still learning.

— A writer who is using techniques, often without knowing, that are advanced.

— A writer that is balanced in skills.

— A writer that has no giant weak areas in their storytelling.

— A writer who can handle any kind of storytelling technique a story demands.

— A writer who is a bestseller and has been for many, many years, if not decades.

— A writer who knows when a reader needs something before a reader knows they need it.

 

So what is the difference between stage three and stage four writers?

Often not much for advanced stage three writers. But still there are critical differences.

Stage three writers are often bestsellers, but fairly new at it. Stage three writers often have huge areas of their writing they are weak at and fear some types of storytelling.

Often a stage three writer will be very good at one area and will be using that all the time to keep selling without adding in the balancing skills.

And most importantly, a stage three writer is not always in control of a story. Not from a critical place, but from a skill place.

More importantly, stage three writers have very, very little awareness of readers on the other side of the story. They may think of readers in marketing, but never in telling their own stories.

 

How to Explain This

To make this clear, I need to go back to the poker analogy. (And please, any professional poker player out there, give me some slack. I am being general here in a hope to help writers, not other poker players.)

As I said earlier, stage three poker players have expanded their awareness from the two cards in their hands out over the entire poker table to the other players and the five cards on the board.

Stage three poker players can often understand how other players are going to play, can often know what two cards another poker player has and so on.

Stage three poker players often make nice money.

Stage four poker players can do all that as well.

And so much more.

A stage four poker player is an expert at reading people in general. They know the types of players, they know the cards, and they will often know how a person will play before they sit down. Not kidding.

There is a scene in the movie Rounders where Matt Damon (playing stage four poker player Mike McDermott) walks into a home poker game with some of his law professors. They ask him to join them and he declines (as he should and as I always do with friends). He stands there and watches them play a hand, then gives his professor advice.

They ask him how he knows to make that play and he explains clearly what every other player at the table is playing.

That scene was a brilliant and quick scene to understand the level of stage four poker players. It looked almost like a magic trick, but it was not, it was a great representation of some skills of stage four poker players. I will explain how Damon knowing all the cards relates to storytelling in a minute.

Stage four poker players play details, play motions, betting, and everything. And folks, there are only 52 cards in a deck, so simply seeing a reaction and a few cards can give a stage four poker player a clear read on another player.

But those players you watch in the top events on television play very strange cards in their hands that are not good “starting hands” by any book written for beginners. Why?

Because the stage four players often don’t care about the two cards in their own hand. (I have played more hands of poker blind than I ever want to think about, meaning I never looked at my two cards, even though I often pretended I did.)

Unless it comes to a showdown, meaning all betting is done and everyone turns over their cards, a stage four poker player won’t much care about his own two cards.

A stage four poker player only cares what the other stage four poker player sitting across from him thinks he has.

Now understand, stage four and late stage three players often get into trouble with stage two players because those stage two players don’t have the awareness to be convinced of something one way or another. Stage two and early stage three poker players just don’t even understand the game they often watch on television.

 

A Real Life Example

I had bought into a $1,500 no-limit tournament at the World Series of Poker a bunch of years back. I found myself sitting across from Eric Seidel and on the left of David Pham, the Card Player Magazine player of the year the previous year.

Two top stage four players.

I did not know anyone else at the table and no one knew me.

There were over 80 tables. And as players got knocked out of the tournament, they had a list on a big board as to which tables would break to fill in the empty spots at other tables. Our table would not break until eight or nine hours into the tournament, if that.

So I was there on the same table with two of the top players in the world for at least eight hours if I could survive. They did not know me. I was like the other players to them, but they clearly knew each other.

So I just sat back, made a clear point of looking at my cards each time, and then tossed them away. I didn’t even care what they were.

I had no intention of playing for at least the first hour of the tournament. Not because I was afraid, but because I wanted to set something up for the two top players and watch how they played as well.

Seidel basically only played a few hands in the first hour and everyone folded to him.

On my right, Pham was raising almost every hand and pulling most of the small pots, only getting into a few fights at all with anyone at the table. And when Seidel was in a hand, Pham laid down his cards.

So finally, after one hour, Seidel and Pham clearly thought they had a clear read on me. They clearly thought EXACTLY what I wanted them to think.

I hadn’t said a word, just folded every hand. They figured I was a tight player who was playing scared. I would have thought the same thing in their positions.

So after the first hour, on one hand, I glanced down and had a pair of kings. Pham raised, I re-raised him and everyone else on the table folded around to him. He nodded and without looking at his cards folded.

That one hand repaid all the blinds I had lost in the first hour. (grin)

What Pham was thinking was that I was a very tight player, an early stage player with a lot of patience, and would only play top hands, and Pham didn’t want to fight with a top hand, especially so early in the tournament. (That was why I went with a pair of kings to start making my move, to make sure that if I did get called down to a showdown, I would have the powerful hand I wanted him to think I only played.)

I had made him believe he knew what cards I was going to play. And I noticed that when Pham folded, Seidel nodded. Seidel clearly had the same thought.

Two hands later, Pham raised again and I re-raised him again. This time I had two low garbage cards. But I knew he was a stage four player and all I cared about was what he thought I had, not what I actually had.

He folded again.

So for the next two hours, Pham took money from other players and I took money from him at times when he raised.

Not once did I get in a showdown with anyone in those first hours. Not one person ever saw my cards.

At that point in my life, I also had great peripheral vision and I raised Pham a couple of times when I noticed he hadn’t even looked at his cards. I hadn’t looked at mine, either, but that’s beside the point. I was just playing with his mind.

In essence, we were playing cards without caring what our own cards were. Impossible to even imagine to a stage one or two poker player.

Players kept getting knocked out and leaving our table and leaving their chips behind with the three of us. At the lunch break, Seidel and Pham and I had the three large stacks.

After lunch, Pham changed his play from raising almost every hand and went to playing more like Seidel and I knew they had changed their read on me, so I changed to regular play, and the three of us took turns taking money from the others.

And never after lunch did I raise Pham or Seidel and they never raised me either. In other words, their read on me had gotten a little closer to my actual skill level and in the early hours of the tournament there was no reason to mix it up.

They knew exactly what I had done to them. I had led them to believe I was one type of player when I was actually another.

Mind control.

After nine hours, the tournament broke our table to send us to empty chairs at the twenty remaining tables. We walked together upstairs talking. (This was in Binions and I went back to writing shortly after that tournament and have never had the pleasure to sit at a poker table with either of them again.)

So the key to stage four poker players, when playing other stage four players or good stage three players, is to make the other player think they understand and know what you have.

 

How Does This Apply to Stage Four Writers?

Simple and exactly the same.

Stage one writers only worry about the typing. The words.

Stage two writers are starting to worry about story, but still focus on typing and the words.

Stage three writers have expanded out to be aware of story and characters and they notice pacing and so much more. (Remember, stage three is a huge area that takes years to get through and most never do.)

Stage four writers could not much care about the words. Words are in the complete control of stage four writers and are only part of the tools the writer uses.

What is important to a stage four writer is what the reader is experiencing at any give moment in the story.

In other words, stage four writers awareness has expanded outside the words, outside the story, outside of characterization, and to what the reader will be thinking and feeling at any moment in the story.

Stage four writers understand what will hold a reader in a story, understand when a question needs to be answered and answer it a fraction of a second before the reader thinks it.

Stage four writers will not allow the reader out of the story, and so much more.

Just as I controlled Pham and Seidel’s thoughts on that table for a few hours, stage four writers control reader’s minds from word one of a story to the final word.

And often beyond.

 

(More on stage four in the next chapter)

——–

You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more as time goes on. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.

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Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 10, Day 20

Year 2, Month 10, Day 20 of this Writing in Public challenge.

A wild and productive day today on a bunch of fronts.

WORKSHOPS

Actually finalized a major new addition to the workshop structure at WMG Publishing. Over the next few weeks we will be working it all out. It’s going to be great for many people interested in taking workshops. (No worry, the workshop schedule that is posted will remain just fine.)

THE DAY

Left the house around 2 p.m. Hell and gone today running errands. Banks, post office, the WMG office with more boxes of things than I ever wanted to carry.

Then off to walk for exercise, then out to Pop Culture Collectables, the WMG store to work there for a short time, then back to WMG, and then finally home at 6:30 p.m.

Yeah, that was nuts. Lunch was not a possibility.

THE WRITING

Finished up the first chapter on stage four of Stages of a Fiction Writer. It is posted above. Then I spent some time getting going on the next novel.

I was going to fire into a Thunder Mountain novel that I was calling Echo Rock, but then changed the name to Echo Song.

Then for a time, after watching this amazing image of Andromeda Galaxy taken by the Hubble, I thought I should write another Seeders Universe novel.

Finally, after watching some television and taking a nap, I went back to going next after the Thunder Mountain novel Echo Song. It will finally be the origin story of the jukebox in all my jukebox stories. Not at all sure how, and I have no outline at all, of course, but the goal is that by the time the book is over, fans of the jukebox stories will know the origin. That’s the hope, anyway.

We shall see how that hope works out. (grin)

Anyhow, got started and managed about 1,000 words, which after all the dithering, felt pretty good.

TOPIC OF THE NIGHT: Stages of a Fiction Writer (Chapter Five above).

Totals For Year 2, Month 10, Day 20

— Daily Fiction: 1,000 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 15,450 words  

— Nonfiction: 1,500 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 6,850 words

— Blog Posts: 400 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 6,900 words

— E-mail: 14 e-mails. Approx. 600 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 447 e-mails. Approx. 22,500 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 3 Covers

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

——–

You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more as time goes on. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.

Oo4th_patreon_name


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