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Common Writing Mistake: Presenting Strangers When We Wanted Friends

Here's a harsh publishing reality: the reader does not have to care about your book.

Yes, it's your book.  Your brain child.  The thing you spent hours on every day for years trying to perfect.  But you know what?  There are millions and millions and millions of books out there.  If your goal is to sell this brain child then it is now your job as the author to make the reader care about your book.

The best books are the ones that trigger an emotional response in the reader.  This is a tough pill to swallow because of said mentioned reasons.  You as the author already have an emotional response to the book because you are invested in it.  But when someone reads your story for the first time every single character is a stranger.  The goal is to turn those strangers into friends.

"Well, if they get through the whole story then of course the reader will be friends with my characters!"

Not true.

Consider a news article about a horrible freak accident.  You may read the en…

Review of "Room for Rent," a short story by David Toth

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Summary:
With a marriage and business gone bust, Allen is left with one option––rent out the basement of his isolated house in the Adirondacks to help pay the bills. At first, Greg Shaw is the ideal tenant: quiet, respectful and always pays his rent in cash. His paranoid insistence that dangerous people are after him seems like a harmless quirk. But when a household accident leaves Greg with a broken neck, Allen finds more than just old music records among Greg’s belongings. A large sum of money sits in a local bank and Allen, (a former child-actor) is faced with a decision: report the accident, or impersonate Greg to retrieve the money.

Review:
A classic tale of betrayal and greed. I really enjoyed this story. Despite the length the cast of characters were very fleshed out and memorable. The former child-actor going rogue was absolutely perfect.

The twists and turns were interesting but done concisely, which kept the pace of the story moving forward in a way that was fitting for …

Reassessing what makes writing fun

My "real life" work has changed slightly.  I took on a new position (in addition to doing the jobs of my old one).  Overall, this has been a good thing.  It was a career move and I welcome the opportunities this new position will open up for me.

But as with all life changes it has forced me to rebalance other areas of my life, which includes writing.  I have become less and less focused on the business of writing and more viewing it as I used to view it before I got into publishing: as a hobby.  While I do suffer from the occasional pang of regret from not being able to publish as often as I used to, I have found that my enjoyment of writing and just my general free time has increased.

This has made me reassess what it was/is that actually makes writing fun for me.  I've come up with a list:


I enjoy getting lost in the world I've created.I enjoy drawing story inspiration from daily experiences.I enjoy thinking about the story I'm writing and contemplating plot cha…

Review of "The Truth about Rebecca," a short story by E.M. Youman

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Summary: She's a banshee screaming, sugar-starved monster, and her zookeeper has left you all alone with her.
That's what's running through twenty-nine-year-old Henry Dalton's mind, when his five-year-old stepdaughter, Rebecca, enters the room and utters these fatal words. "Where's Mommy?"

Review: This is a touching story about two people in need of love and forming an unlikely family.  Henry Dalton, the protagonist, is your very typical bachelor that has absolutely no interest in having a family.  He's just "a guy" that wants to date Rebecca's mom.
The circumstances of Dalton taking on Rebecca as his charge border on unrealistic by how fast everything occurs.  I felt like more time could have been spent exploring Rebecca's mother.  It wouldn't necessarily change the result of the story but perhaps add more emotional depth to the events that follow.
Still, the story has a good pace to it.  I enjoyed seeing Dalton's progressio…

Andrew Stanton: The clues to a great story

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Filmmaker Andrew Stanton ("Toy Story," "WALL-E") shares what he knows about storytelling -- starting at the end and working back to the beginning. (Contains graphic language ...)

Common Writing Mistake: Directionless Plot

Plot, by definition, is the main events in a story or play.  A key thing to note here is that plot shapes the story like the framework for a house.  Details should be filled in but without logical framework the structure will collapse.

Something that I see during the beta reading process is the trap of directionless plot.  To continue the construction metaphor, the author gets so fixated on putting one piece of framing in a particular space that he fails to notice how it might affect the entire structure.

Every piece of plot should build off each other.  Do the characters really need to explore that mysterious tomb?  Or do you just want to have a scene where it might be cool to fight the living dead?  How does exploring that tomb add to the other plot points?

Now, this is not to say that there cannot be subplots that veer away from the main plot.  In longer stories, subplots and character development are what make a story memorable.  But the main framework should always be in focus.  …

6 Years Writing

.... and I forgot my own writing anniversary.

But that's ok.  I don't think that's a bad thing.  I've stopped thinking about writing milestones, to be honest.  Writing is now something that I do as part of my day, no questions asked.

This is interesting because it's the same for music, I've found.  When first learning a musical instrument we are very goal-oriented.  I'm on "the next" piece in a book.  But if you tough it out long enough you lose track of how many pieces you know and it just becomes a thing.

Over the past two writing years I've noticed that I've become less profit-driven with writing.  Getting more sales was highly motivating to me when I first started on this publishing journey.  But I noticed that my mindset has switched from needing to get sales to "Oh, look at that I got a sale.  How nice."

My mindset right now I think would have frustrated freshly-published me a few years ago.  But something I've realize…