Saturday, December 31, 2016

Writing Resolutions...

Now, what did I mean by that? 

Is this a blog on how and why and when you should write New Year Resolutions? (hint:  On or right before New Year’s Day, btw)

Or is this a blog on my personal resolutions regarding writing?

If you guess the latter, you’re right.
But there are so many things that could be on the list, and surveys say the longer the list, the less likely anything will be accomplished.  So I’m going to keep this year’s list fairly short, aim for the sky type of list.
Here goes;

Dear me –
You’ve been laxing in your writing ever since the election.  It’s over. Get over it and get back to writing more!  My number one resolution for you is this:

1.       Write five days a week.  Write at least 1500 words per week.  That’s a measly 300 words a day, and if you write more than that, I’d be very proud of you.

Next, let’s discuss what you’ve accomplished so far.  You have four novels in your editing queue, plus a 5000 plus word short story.  We both know the short story is done and finished (I hear you saying “But there’s that one sentence I want to massage…”  SO MASSAGE IT ALREADY!  
You have two novels you’re sharing with your writing group that you edit a chapter each week.  That’s fine, but here’s your number two resolution:

2.       Find three publishers to submit the novels to, and contact them to see if they would give you a look.  Remember your goal is to NOT self-publish, but be published.  And that short story?  Contact two magazine publishers (you can do this online) that would fit the genre and submit the story.  You may only get less than $300 for it, but hey, it makes you a published author. And don't be upset if you get rejected the first time around. It happened to the best authors, so why not you?

Lastly.  The number three resolution is simple.  You have a minor roadblock that needs to be attended to before proceeding on the next book -

3.      Learn how to better outline a novel before starting the story. 

That’s my top three writing resolutions, what’s yours?

Wishing you happy writing in the New Year!

- Walter

Monday, December 12, 2016

From Popcornbytes * - Creating a Character: Six things I look for.

They say Character is everything.  A good character drives the story forward, almost telling the writer where to go next.  So the creation of a character is something every writing deals with.  Here’s a look into the process I go through when creating my cast of characters for a story.
1.  What is the character’s function in the story?
Is this the main character?  A major – but not main- Character?  Good guy or bad guy?  I tend to spend a bit more time getting to know the main characters then a minor or one scene character.  Some can just be a generic title.  “The salesclerk”, “the Traffic cop”, “the waitress”  can all be generic – however –
1A.  If a minor character, how minor, for how long?
Let’s take, for example, a servant girl I had written in to serve as a minor obstacle for the main characters in my story “Sidestepping Home”.  I gave her a name because she would appear in at least two scenes, or chapters, of the book.  So I thought.
I gave what I thought would be a minor twist and suddenly found my main characters with a new servant girl.  The minor obstacle had been elevated to almost sidekick status.  So instead of writing about a party of three in the household, I now had a foursome.  And the servant girl became important for the end of the novel.
2.  What do they do in the story? What’s their “job”?
The Hero has a job.  What is it?  Knowing their job helps you to figure out their breadth of knowledge.  An accountant may not know how to hot-wire a car, but a spy could hot-wire a car and be lousy when it comes time to do their expense reports.
  1. What’s their backstory for the last two months??
I don’t need to know who their first pet was, what their Grandparents did (unless it’s crucial to the story), or the name of the first person they kissed.  I do want to know what’s happening NOW in their lives, what type of mindset and mood they’re currently in.  It gives me a jumping point in the story for them.
  1. What’s their motivation in the story?  Is it to woo the fair maiden?  Avenge a great wrong?  And why is it important to them?
Once I have these four things, I can flesh out other details as needed, starting with
5 & 6.  What’s their name and age?
As I said above, I usually take my time with my main characters.  The name of the character sometimes being most important, as it is something you’ll be writing down a lot during the course of your story.
Age becomes important because it also helps set how much knowledge they may know, as well as social attitudes.
If I know their approximate age, I can find the top 25 names for their birth year (assuming you know the current year your story is taking place.) by using Google or another search engine.  Last names can be more difficult.  But there I have a resource –
This is a great site, as it can give you names from around the globe, as well as for names for fairy, myth, biblical, or fantasy.  One of the best features it the random name generator, where with a few clicks will deliver you a name.  Don’t like it?  Click “generate another”.  You can even decide you like a first name, then generate another and take the last name you decide upon.  A great writers resource.
Speaking of resources, check out Popcornbytes on Pinterest.  I have writing and writing research boards with many articles for your perusal, and of course, there’s the

*to be fair - Popcornbytes is my twitter handle, as well as wordpress name. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Opening phrase

     The crowd and the music in the background was blocked by the earbuds the writer wore.  He stared at the blank screen on his laptop and set the large ice tea down to the left of it.  He placed his fingers on the keyboard and began to type -
 "The crowd and the music was blocked by the earbuds the writer wore....."

     My name is Walter, and I'm a writer.  I have written four novels of over 50,000 words each, my preferred genres are thriller/spy novels and science fiction.  But that's not to belittle the mystery I wrote this past year.

     When I was growing up, I read quite a bit.  I love to read, read all the L. Frank Baum Oz stories, Tarzan, Swiss Family Robinson, a lot of the classics of youthful reading.  Still have some of them.
Ok, I lie.  I have most of them still.  I dreamed of growing up and becoming a writer.

    Then something happened.  I found the James Bond stories by Ian Fleming and started reading those, and when I got older I read them again, seeing how much the Bond of the books was different from the Bond of the movies.  And how in the end Fleming managed to weave a continuity throughout most of the series.  Although Moonraker draws quite the discussion on when it took place.  I'm a 1952 man myself.

    Life went on and I eventually found myself in film and television, mainly behind the scenes.  My interest grew as did my knowledge base.  And then came that fateful day I found myself out of work and unlikely, at the old age of my early fifties, of finding another job quickly.  I was in a marriage that was about to enter endgame, and I wondered what to do.

     Somewhere I read about NaNoWriMo.  National Novel Writing Month.  A self-challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in one thirty day period at a rate of 1667 words a day.  It took me 25 days to complete.  My novel, now in the rewrite/edit stage, is called "Eton & Windsor".  It's a thriller, part mystery, part travelogue, part spy novel.  I wrote from ten p.m. to midnight from the seat of my pants.  My then wife thought I was up to something else because I dare not tell her what I was up to, for fear she would say something negative that would just make me stop trying.  But I did it.  I wrote a novel.

    The ones that I have written have been a mixed bunch, and I hope to share stories behind them with you.

So hello, nice to meet you.  My name's Walter, and I'm a writer.