Death to Awesome

It was about a year ago that I resolved to axe the word ‘awesome’ from my vocabulary. I’m not sure when it happened, or if it’s a generational thing, but ‘awesome’ somehow became my default descriptor for anything from shoelaces to a friend’s marriage proposal.



Just Write the F&%king Story.

by:  Keith M.

Still reflecting on the things I wrote in last week’s post.

I guess I’m still reflecting on it for two reasons.  First, because I am a glutton for bad fiction and I am trying to finish reading the science-fiction book I was bitching about in my last post.  No, it hasn’t gotten any better.  The MC still has no clue what the hell is going on, but apparently he’s discovering that he has “supernatural” powers in this new, strange place.  Ugh   . . . just . . . ugh.

Second, I’m still reflecting on it because despite what I wrote in the last sentence of that post, I am not giving up on that fucking baseball novel.  I don’t want to.  Because despite the shortcomings I’ve pointed out . . .  I like it.  I really do.  I enjoy thinking about it, I enjoy writing the story down, and I’m just . . . . liking it.   It’s unique.  I’ve never read anything like it, and I’ve LOOKED for books like this one.  I don’t think one exists.

I’ve had a mantra the last few months, and I’ve repeated it to myself and to other writers, too.  It’s especially applicable when you start over-thinking yourself, and/or your plot, and/or your characters, and/or your themes, etc., etc.    It goes something like this:


Now, as simple as that sounds, there are actually multiple meanings to this phrase.

First, it means not wasting time, but maybe that’s the most obvious interpretation.  A lot of my over-thinking amounts to a huge waste, because really, whatever decisions I feel like I need to make don’t really impact the story that’s waiting to be written.  That’s my experience, anyway.

So, in other words:  Just write the fucking story.  At this stage, more time writing, less time contemplating.

I’ve found success just adding the word “BOOKMARK” in bold letters and then jotting down the question/issue I’m considering, and then I just move on.  If it’s that important, it will still be important later when I go back and see that note to myself.  And in the editing process, I do a search for the word “bookmark” and see if I’ve missed any.  It forces me to go back and consider it before I call the draft “done.”  And by then, almost none of the questions matter anymore.

(To be fair, I totally stole this idea from Hugh Howey.  Which by this point, I’m sure surprises absolutely no one.)

Second, this mantra also means getting the story written down in a form that is as clear and direct as it can be written.  The plot is the map, the characters are the ones following it.  First, I want to make sure I understand the path they’re taking from point A to point Z.  Just get that much accomplished first, as good as it can be done.  One thing at a time.

In other words: Just write the fucking story.  Not the whole, finished novel.  Don’t try to bite more than you can chew.

I was thinking about this as I was reading that crappy book I keep referring to.  It occurred to me that this book reads somewhat like a first draft, in that the author put down in very explicit, complete and clear terms exactly what the characters were doing and where they were going and all that.  But what’s missing is the characters, themselves.  To his credit, this author wrote the fucking story.

But for me, good stories alone do not a great book make.  I need characters.  How much more effort would this author need to add to bring his main character to life?  Does it mean a full re-write of the whole novel?  Perhaps, but I think probably not.  Especially if he had been writing this as a draft with the understanding that he would be going back to add in the character pieces that would make these people pop off of the page.

And that’s when I realized:  that’s what I’m doing.

I said in an earlier post that I am NEVER going to write backstory in a first draft ever again.  Backstory is one of those things where it seems that there are a million ways to do it almost correctly.  At the same time, I feel like it’s important to give my character a history to bring importance to his present situation.  So, backstory is a necessary evil.  And it seems like the best way to avoid a total backstory trainwreck is to add it in where it makes the most sense in the flow of the story.  Which is hard to understand  until I . . .

wait for it ….

waaaaiiit …


So, if I’m willing to go back and add backstory, maybe there’s also room to add other details that add color to the character.  This author could have easily revised (not rewrote, just simple revisions) to add hints that the MC’s family was enormously important in his life.  Then, when he took the action which he knew would mean he would never see them again, I would understand why it hurt him so much.

For me, this is what this blog is supposed to be about:  capturing those “AH HA!!” moments when I feel like I’ve figured something out.  The joyful (sometimes painful) learning process that an amateur writer goes through.  Maybe some authors are so goddamn smooth that they paint a vivid, tear-jerking character on the first draft.  Maybe that’s what comes with all the experience that I don’t have.  In the meantime, I think I’ve figured a process to avoid the mistakes that this author made.

That makes me feel like I can get better.  It makes me feel like maybe I don’t have to be  the things I hate.


You Are What You Hate

by:  Keith M.

I’m so frustrated with my writing lately.

It all started because I am reading a book that I won’t mention because I hate it.  Although the idea and concept for this story is kinda cool, the execution is total dogshit.  First off, the main character lacks any clue of what the fuck is going on whatsoever.   He is forced out of his “comfortable world” by circumstances, and by some very mysterious characters who sweep him away, asserting that they are saving him.  He certainly doesn’t know if they’re there to help or hurt him, and they take him to an “underworld” (figuratively, not literally) that he didn’t know existed and doesn’t understand.


2016 Writing–and other–Hopes

by Me  D.M. Gutierrez

I used to make New Year’s resolutions but gave up after a couple of decades of never following through with them. Life just gets in the way; it’s inevitable. The best-laid plans of mice and men and all that.

So instead I will put some hopes out there:

1. I hope I can post more Sylvellin Sending on Critique Circle for critters to read. They keep asking me when that’s going to happen and I keep saying ‘soon’, but eventually, they will stop asking

2.  I hope I can edit my horror story and submit it somewhere. (Actually, I thought I was really close to that and then SOMEONE (yeah, you, Evensong) pointed out some excellent ways to make it a much better story so back to work for me.

Piling on

By P.A.Thompson

A. Whitt has brought us back to life this week with her post ‘Writing Resolutions’.

So I thought I’d pile on with some new year thoughts.

Big news: I finished my first draft! Well, version 1.5 I call it since I did edit some as I went. Okay, I edited some pieces a LOT.

Little news: I didn’t with the billion+ dollar powerball.

Big news: I finished reading my entire novel to my brother and his wife. They enjoyed it. They come visit every six months or so and DEMAND that I read more of my story to them. So, it must be at least decent, right?

Little news: I haven’t been able to read the entire novel to my wife, who is my best editor, critic and fan.

Big news: I have started editing. Adding pieces to the early chapters that I came up with later. Making the characters consistent and more/less likable.  I rewrote chapter one and posted it on CC in the public queue to get new views and reactions.  And I did.  Most liked a lot. But some asked crucial questions… And that has slowed me down.

Little news: I’m sick. I think I have the flu and don’t feel like doing anything. Including this post.

Big news: By April Fools day I want to have an edited version done. Hopefully ready for Beta readers.  Any volunteers?  Heh, I have some people lined up… and yes, it is you.

Little news:  That’s all folks.


Hey, I Wrote This Thing

Once upon a time, I wrote a book. It was a fun book. The sort that was filled with explosions and gunfire and some vague plot points that might be interpreted as ‘character development’. I wrote that book over the course of many, many years, going from an incredibly contrived, silly narrative, to what I believe is a slightly less contrived, silly narrative. I grew up as a writer, and reflecting on the process has been both affirming as well as humbling.

Now I am done, or as done as I feel I can be under the circumstances. I’ve reached the point where I have to accept that I can’t continue to write and edit and expect different results. That can only mean one thing…

It is time to publish.

I made contact with the editor, $1575 to go through the entire manuscript, with a 6 to 8 week turn around time. Not bad for 430-some odd pages. It will be a copy-edit, always my greatest downfall. Can I use a semicolon here? Am I connecting two independent clauses? What the hell is syntax and do I have too much of it? Do I suffer from Syntaxiphobia?

The biggest challenge now has been sorting out the finances for finishing this endeavor. I’m employed, which you might have gathered from my total silence on CtW over the last few months. But I also have student loans to pay back, and a credit card that needs to be dealt with. That’s fine. I have just enough hours to cover that and still afford my medication. That means saving up to pay for the deposit for my editor, $700, is a bit more of a challenge. I would have to save up for two months, and in two months a lot can change. I might change my mind, become lazy again. I might procrastinate, which is frankly a bit too likely. No, it has to be now. Now is the time. Now, this year, within six months, I will publish. I will. I will.

And to show myself, and those around me that I wasn’t simply faffing about, I started this. Yes, it is a GoFundMe. No, I’m not asking for your assistance (Although if you’d like to…) I’ve made promises to people now, which I have to hold to. Tee shirts and copies of the book to my lovely donors. Thank god for them. In four days I’ve already raised over half the deposit amount.

My artist, the ever-talented Maddison Barut, will be helping with the tee-shirt design, as well as the postcards. It’s a team effort, not just including her and I, but every person that has donated so far. It speaks to the power of social media, of crowd sourcing. People are remarkably generous when it comes to supporting each other, despite what some naysayers believe.

Now I just have to deliver a book. Lord help me if it isn’t as grand as I originally thought. No pressure. Deep breath. It will be fine. It will be fine. It has to be, because if The Code: Between Fire and Pines is an utter failure and I become hopelessly dejected, I’ll be left with 8 other books stewing away in my mind with no desire to follow through with them. I can’t imagine that. I can’t fathom spending so many years allowing these characters, plots, and yes, explosions, percolate in my head only to abandon them. I suppose that is the benefit of self-publishing. Even if it is a failure, I’m not bound to any contract, nor am I trying to impress any agent, editor, or audience. The stories are for me and, yes, 7 other people now.

Surely those 7 people won’t be too disappointed in me. Right?

Challenge Accepted

by S.A. Spencer

To answer A. Whitt’s Sunday challenge — what are my resolutions for this year — first I’ll look at what I accomplished in 2015.

I finished the first draft of my science fantasy novel, Electric Minds. Whew! No small task. From that project, I learned everything I knew about writing up to October 2015. Especially about structure. And what I learned about structure is, that draft is going into the drawer because it has so many plot holes.

I won NaNoWriMo! In 19 days I wrote 50,000 words of a paranormal romance. Can you believe it? I even had fun.

I switched genres because I read several paranormal romance novels to learn how to include a romance thread in Electric Minds, and I discovered a new love.

There’s just one problem. Romance has a different structure. If you’re familiar with script writing, the B story becomes the A story. If you’re not familiar with script writing, sorry, I’m not explaining.

The good thing about romance is it’s character driven, and I need to learn to develop characters.

So, my resolution is to outline my paranormal romance novel, Binding Desire, and finish the first draft. I don’t really count the NaNoWriMo version as the first draft. I call it the pre-draft.

What is the book about? Right now, and this will surely change: An artist paints the sexiest man alive, he steps off the canvas, but she’s summoned a demon.

How’s that A. Whitt?


Writing Resolutions

CtW readers will have noticed things are pretty dead around here.

Life happens, and I know many of our regular contributors have had significant developments in their lives as of late. Cha-cha-changes and whatnot. For better or worse, writing sometimes gets pushed aside.

I always notice our favourite writing/critique website Critique Circle gets an influx of newbies each January. The start of a new year is always a time for reflection and to make lofty goals with the expanse of an entire year laid out before you. It feels like forever.

With naïve optimism in mind, I have a challenge for all the other CtW contributors. Yes, that’s right, a CHALLENGE.


I want to hear your writing resolutions. I want to hear your goals for 2016.

Here are mine:

-Rewrite the beginning of TFS and requery.

-Finish a new manuscript and start revisions.

-Write 11k each month.

– Be a better critter (I have to admit, while I got a lot of writing done in 2015 I was a pretty lousy critter that year).

Just for fun I’m not going to tell any of the other CtW authors that I’m writing this post (though some will be alerted via email subscription). I’m just going to put it out here for them to stumble upon. When they do, (talking to you now, guys), I expect them to meet the challenge by writing their own Writing Resolutions and posting them to the blog.


My Experience Publishing a Kindleworlds Story

By:  Keith M.

if you follow this blog, you know that I’ve spent much of the last year’s posts bitching about chronicling the process of writing my kindleworlds novella set in the world of Hugh Howey’s novel, Sand.  I posted this when I finished the first draft back in November, 2014.   I posted this and this as I was struggling through edits and revisions.  My point is . . .  it’s been a long process.

But it’s done now.

I’m pleased to report that my novella is live, and selling on amazon.  Check this out.