Five Things . . .

. . . in no particular order of importance and strictly reflective of what’s annoying me about my writing right now, with the full knowledge that we all have annoying habits and weaknesses that we continually battle to overcome. This writing thing is hard, even if 50% of it is applying the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair.

Describe bit players as they occur. I tend to drib and drab out character descriptions for secondary/tertiary characters, hair here, nose there, expecting the other characters’ reaction to the person to provide the details. It takes so little time to write a description – Mary had bright friendly eyes that tipped up at the ends and a broad happy smile. Now whenever Mary appears, the reader sees Mary. How hard is that?


Develop a reusable one paragraph backstory for each central character to use the first or second time the character appears in any book in a series. I do fine with the main characters but could do a better job with the supporting cast, especially in Wanee, my small town with its rotating cast of supporting characters. The reader should be able to associate a face, walk, demeanor and history with a name – always. Having just read the latest James R. Benn, I’ll use him as an example. Benn uses the same description for Kaz in every book, but it works, both as a reminder to those who have read the other books in the series and for readers new to Billy Boyle.


Pick better titles. I’m rotten at this. Rotten. Rotten. Rotten. The world is convinced one of my books is about vampires, another about a horse, and another an entry into a series on using technology. Okay, I didn’t research the titles, I didn’t write to a title, the titles sprang from the text, except the two books named after places, Booth Island and Perfidia (yes, I am aware it is a famous, famous song, my characters dance to it in Barbados, and, yes, James Elroy has a book by that name). I’m just lucky I didn’t name it Pirates of the Caribbean. I need to do all the things I didn’t, and I need reviewers to tell me I’m crazy when I am.


Have patience with the process. My first draft is a detailed synopsis, like 70 – 80,000 words of detail, many of which don’t belong. The second draft (reworked a bazillion times) is tighter and usually the draft I send to my Remarkable (if you don’t have one get one) for a detailed read, edit, and rewrite. While reading, I forget that I’m working on a draft and get discouraged wondering what clown produced the sloppy book with the gaping holes in the plot. Patience, my dear. Patience, read carefully, edit carefully, fill holes and it will come together. Then do it all over again.

Don’t use surnames for characters that end in s such as Jones – it just makes plurals and apostrophes a nightmare. I know it, but I keep doing it. Then I just plow ahead through the draft, soon I have a sloppy mix of s, es, ‘s, s’ and es’ soup that defies copyediting.


Quit clipping sentences in fight scenes. They end up reading like someone announcing a prize fight. I write them as I envision them, my eyes closed, my fingers in high gear, and I guess in staccato bursts. Not only do the scenes end up choppy – they are exhausting. Maybe that’s a good thing, like being in a prize fight. Hmmm?

Well – back at it!

3 thoughts on “Five Things . . .

  1. Oh, yes, those plot holes. I know what you mean. I have been known to write MORE TO COME, and then move on, but eventually, I have to go back and fill those wholes. And bit players. Right now my WIP has two that I am referring to as Thug 1 and Thug 2. Thug 1 has dirty blond hair and a gut; Thug 2 has a mustache.


  2. Fun post! I’m sure every writer comes across things they do while writing that they should keep in mind. The one about describing the main character- I had a critique partner ask for a description of two characters I’d been writing a while. I forget that there are readers who come into the series later and that I need to describe them in every book. *sigh* I see them, why can’t others? LOL

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