What makes dialogues attention-grabbing?

If you don’t want that to happen, make it short and sweet and to the point. Write your dialogue and then go back over it and see how many words you can cut. When you have pared it to the fewest possible words to get the message across, then you’ll have created dialogue that gets readers’ attention.

Because they don’t have to wade through a lot of fluff to get to the essence.

What’s the importance of making story writing a hobby?

When I first started writing as a career, I found that I ‘wrote out’ a lot of things from my past. Okay, I’ve had an easy, comfortable life but, like with everyone, there were a few things that were best gotten rid of mentally. And those memories made great stories.

Then I became a pro and learned that part of being a pro is mentoring new writers and that’s when I learned that what I’d done in the beginning is the norm and is done so much that I now (privately!) call the first part of any writer’s professional journey the ‘cathartic’ phase of their career. And those memories make great stories.

I can’t count the times I’ve read stuff by a new/emerging writer that was based on their life and that was something they had to get out of their system before going on to other subjects. And some of the best writers in history never made the transition. Think Sinclair Lewis and other American writers of that same period. And they were great stories.

The thing is, I’ve seen the same thing happen among people who enjoy writing as a hobby with no intention of ever becoming pros. Because everyone has something to write about that’s based on their life.

Because writing is cathartic. And healing. And even if you had a wonderful life, remembering all that stuff from your past is also fun. And makes great stories even if you are the only person to read those stories.

And when that cathartic phase of your writing journey is completed and you are ready to go beyond your own past and present, stretching your imagination and letting it soar is fun! And makes for great stories even if you are the only person who ever reads them.

Why don’t we write “I am going” instead of “I go?”

Most writers do write ‘I am going’ and for a very good reason.


Workshops always tell writers and would-be writers to use the active voice and that means writing ‘I go.’

But they also tell writers and would-be writers to write the way people actually speak and since most people say, ‘I am going’ most writers use that phrase.

So it works either way but if you ask me, always go with the way people actually speak.

How can I write the first chapter of my fantasy novel as a scene that happened 8 years previously?

 There are two ways and either way works well:
  1. Write the scene as a prologue instead of as a chapter. It’s done all the time and it works great. The only thing to remember if you use this technique is not to make the prologue too long because, for some reason, readers are turned off by a really long prologue and will simply skip it and get to the book itself. Even if the prologue is essential to the story and you do your best to make sure the reader understands that fact, they still tend to skip it if it’s too long.
  2. Write the first chapter as a ‘flashback.’ This is usually done by using the first paragraph to set the scene that the present/real action is in and to kick-start the flashback. Then the last paragraph in the chapter brings the reader back to the present.

How do I get a first novel published?

2018 5 17
This question opens up a can of worms!

Writing is the easy part, getting published is waaaaay more difficult! But there are some steps to follow that will get you there.

1. But there are books and blogs and articles out there telling you what to do. I’m not sure how helpful they are but they are a good place to start. Read them.

2. Then, after reading them and internalizing whatever they have to say, you look at your own work again and think how best to get YOUR work published, which is quite different from the generic advice those books, etc, provide.

3. If you write for the Christian audience, look at Christian publishers and websites. If you write horror, type ‘horror’ into a search engine and see what comes up. And so on for your own kind of writing until you get a feel for what the literary scene is like for what YOU write, as opposed to what other authors write.

4. Then you do whatever looks right for your particular niche of the writing world. There are hundreds — maybe thousands — of e-publishers out there. If they don’t sell a whole lot of books, they do give you creds when you are pushing your own work somewhere else because someone, somewhere, liked your work enough to take it on as their own publishing project.

5. If that doesn’t work, self-publish. It’s free, easy and also gives you the right to call yourself a published author.

The only ‘don’t’ in this scenario is not to expect huge financial rewards. You might hit it big. It’s a whole lot more likely that you’ll sell — or give away — a few copies. But either way, it’ll be a start and where you go from that start will be up to you.

How do I write a science fiction short story when I don’t have any ideas on what to write about?


No, I didn’t steal the stories themselves, that would be impossible when all that was given was a one or two-sentence blurb giving a general idea what they were about.

But they gave me ideas that eventually ended up becoming my own stories.

Sometimes I’m sure I changed the endings, though that was usually impossible to know since the endings are seldom given away in those brief descriptions.

I probably also changed the protagonists to suit my whims and the needs of whatever story was beginning to form in my imagination from reading those brief descriptions.

Still other times I’m guessing that I changed the settings, time frames, socio-economic status, family situation, age or sex of the protagonists. Again, I’ll never know because such things are seldom explained in those short descriptions.

Whatever I did, each and every change made the story so significantly different that the result was never even remotely recognizable as the story that provided the inspiration.

I wrote for the women’s market so I looked for women’s stories. If you want to write a science-fiction story, then look to that genre for inspiration.

The picture is the cover of one such story I wrote.

And good luck to all you writers out there.

Black Cats. Gotta love ’em.

There’s a lot to love about these black, fur-balls as evidenced by holidays in their honor. What, you say? Holidays just for a specific color cat?


The ASPCA celebrates Black Cat Appreciation Day annually on August 17.

In England, October 27 is National Black Cat Day.

I mention these because my latest clean small-town romance features a black cat. In fact the title is A Very Black Cat. I didn’t know when I sat down to write the book just how the cat would play against the other, human, characters but it worked out just fine.

Of course. Because Little Guy is a cat. Need I say more?

Check it out:      http://www.Amazon.com/dp/B07BTGN58M


As a writer, do you sometimes need reassurance that people care about your writing?

 The answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no.’

Writers, like all creative types, appreciate reassurance that what they are doing resonates with others. (Who doesn’t?”

At the same time, most writers prefer doing their own thing regardless of whether other people like it or not. (Again, who doesn’t?)

I suspect that the difference between the two motivations is in percentage, not in absolutes.

In other words, some writers find their need for reassurance to be huge while their need for doing their own thing is of lessor importance. Other writers may only feel good writing what they wish and only afterwards hoping vaguely that a few people out there like it.

Because, at the end of the day, writers are people.

While writing in third person, what are some of the ways you can refer to the main character other than their name or ‘he’ or ‘she?’

 2018 3 24 writerOne of the easiest ways accomplishes more than just indicating which character is speaking or doing something.

It’s called a ‘dialogue tag’ and it simply means that you mix together the description of the scene with the actions/speeches of the character you wish to pinpoint.

Describe where they are or what they are doing, whichever is appropriate, in a sentence or two, then segue right into the dialog or action in the next sentence in the same paragraph.

Since you have just described either the character or some action involving the character, when you continue with dialogue or action your reader will automatically know who you is doing it.

This moves your action along much faster than if you divided your writing into description and also dialog/action because, this way, both are intertwined.

I’m trying to write a plot line for a book but I keep on overthinking it and eventually hating them. How do I see it through to the end?

2. Describe a second main character in the same way.

3. Describe any other MAJOR characters the same way. Don’t worry about secondary characters, keep a note pad handy to scribble a description as they appear in your story. (This will save time and effort if you never need that character.)

4. Write down the problem that the whole story revolves around. Again, no more than a few sentences, one is usually sufficient.

5. Write down when your main character(s) begin to engage with that problem. No backstory, no long, boring description of scenery, just jump right in with the action that pertains to the main problem of the story.

6. Write down the solution to the problem. This might take several sentences but usually only one or two.

8. Jot down a paragraph describing the scene that will get the story started. That’s number 5. This is the beginning of your story.

9. In a sentence each, describe as many scenes as are needed to get from number 5 to number 8. Number 8 is the ending.

One caveat: long stories need lots of scenes, short ones only a few. If you are writing a novel, look up ‘story-boarding’ and use that template to make sure your reader doesn’t get bored in the middle.

A second caveat: don’t overthink it. A scene can be described in one sentence and not need to be fleshed out until you are ready to write that scene. This way, you don’t get frustrated by trying to get every detail figured out in advance. And you’ll find that many times your story will change as you write it so not having gone into a lot of detail will mean you didn’t do a lot of extra work.