Author Archives: accordingtohoyt

About accordingtohoyt

I am a novelist with work published in science fiction, fantasy, mystery and historical "novelized biography". I also write under the names Elise Hyatt and Sarah D'Almeida.

Lost and Found, Complete Short Story by Sarah A. Hoyt

Note: This was my blog post on my blog yesterday and today.  I REALLY am the world’s worst promoter, but I’m trying to do something to support the release of Darkship Revenge, yesterday.
I ask — nay beg — that if you like the story you link it on social media, copy it on your blog, whatever.  I don’t care so long as you keep the attribution and the sales link at the bottom.

*This story is a prequel of sorts to Darkship Revenge (and Hacking the Storm.)
It is not proofread.  Yeah, I know.  The free ice cream doesn’t have ALL the toppings.  Sorry.  I meant to do this earlier, but it turns out Advair ALSO turns off the writing.  Which means I’m going to have to find another asthma solution, or see if I can do with the small emergency inhaler.  So it’s last minute, and this is unproof-read.  I’ll put up a proofread version in ebook format for download later, if ya’ll want it.  And if it’s not cabbage. – SAH*

Lost and Found

Sarah A. Hoyt

I had a minute.  Maybe less.  He lay on the bed, his eyes closed, various tubes entering and exiting his body.  Machines surrounded him, beeping, burping and making all sorts of noises.

I knew what each of those noises meant.  If I looked closely, I’d know what each of those tubes were doing too.  I’d cared for countless patients just out of the regen machine.

But this wasn’t any patient.  This was Fuse.  He’d been my friend. My lover.  And while the machines were fixing what was wrong with him, I knew what came after; what the plans for him were.

Even in his weakened state; even before his mind came back and he remembered who he was, his father, the Good Man of the Seacity of Albion, had placed armed guards by the door and two more, inside the door, holding high-powered burners.

There was just one of me.  I had no weapons.  I had a minute.  Maybe less.  But I had no idea how to free a very ill man with his mind in ruins.  Yet I must do it, or he would die.


There is a saying, come to us from the ancients, perhaps as far back as the twentieth century – not that I’m sure anything survived that long, past wars, revolutions, famines, the Turmoils, and the many times rulers found it convenient to make sure every record of the past was lost – or at least my professor said it might be that old, back when I studied ancient literature: If you love something, let it go.  If it comes back to you, it’s yours.  If it doesn’t, it never was.

No wonder the ancients fell.  No, I’m quite serious.  They forgot the very act of letting go might tell the something you don’t value it.  Worse, most of the “things” you can let go aren’t able to look after themselves.

Fuse, aka the Patrician Ajith Mainard Rex Mason, the only son of the Good Man of Albion had been competent, sociable, able to look after himself and more.

Until he wasn’t.  Which is when he was wrenched away from me.  Only to come back damaged and in danger for his life.

Like most things in Albion, it all started at the order of the Good Man, in this case filtered down to an order by my superior, Doctor Belmont.  He was an older man, old enough to be my father, who seemed nonetheless completely up to date – then some – on the newest techniques of regen and medicine.

After a hard day of work at the Good Man’s secret labs – and yes, the reasons for both the secret and the latest techniques made sense.  When a Good Man died there was often turmoil and war, and I liked safety and stability as much as the next person – he’d come to my desk, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Addie, there’s something I’d like you to do for me, if you have the evening free.”

It wasn’t that kind of tap on the shoulder and it wasn’t that kind of request.  Doctor Belmont had never shown any inclination to treat me as anything other than a daughter, maybe. He did have a tendency to pass boring or time consuming work to me, though.  Which I guessed was fair, since I was twenty five, just out of medical school, for which I’d been recommended by my professors after finishing normal medtech training.  I’d spent twelve years being trained for this, but I didn’t have practice, as it were.  Doctor Belmont did.  And besides, he was older and had a family and children, while I lived alone and had no social life.

I’d turned away from the research I was doing, on new gene splicing techniques, a way to heal the ravages of old age and illness, and looked up at Doctor Belmont.  He looked somewhat embarrassed, “It’s a party,” he said.

“You want me to go to a party with your family?” I asked, confused.

He grinned sheepishly.  “No, instead of me, so I can–  Well, it’s my anniversary.  Of course the Good Man’s orders come first, but it’s my thirtieth anniversary, and this is a simple enough job.”

“A job?  At a party?”

This time the grin was less sheepish and more rueful.  “The Good Man wants someone to certify that his son, Ajith, is in good enough health.”

“Good enough health for what?”

“Just good health.”

“Shouldn’t he come in and see us, then?”

“Yes, but he refuses to.  Has a phobia of doctors, his father says.  So, would you do it?  Go to a party at the Good Man’s mansion and certify that the heir is in good health?”

I thought quickly.  There were things I could smuggle.  There were those med readers in bracelets, for the exceptionally hypochondriac.  I happened to have one a teacher had given me years ago.  If I pressed it against the heir, it should give me a read on him.

It’s not that I disliked parties, mind, but a party at this level was going to be a right pain.  I sighed.  It was still work.  And I got paid more than I’d ever dreamed of.  “Yah.  All right.”


I’m not a hellion.  Didn’t have much time to be one, in my youth, what with first training as a medtech, and then getting pushed to higher study and actually learning the theory and science behind the techniques for years.

But in my brief time with Fuse, I’d learned a bit about what to do when everything was against you.  Even though he was in front of me, on that stupid medical bed, unconscious; even though for years now he hadn’t been himself, I could hear his voice in my head, clear as a bell, “When in an impossible situation, do something crazy.  An explosion is always good.”

Nothing on hand would cause an explosion.  No.  I revise that.  Most things on hand would cause an explosion, given enough time and knowledge.  Were I Fuse, I would be able to blow this entire room to kingdom come with one of the medical machines, two drops of water and a stick of chewing gum, or equally unlikely equipment.

But I wasn’t Fuse, and all I had was myself.  So an explosion was right out.  But I could cause something akin to an explosion.  Distract the guards.  Grab their weapons.  And then play it by ear.

I pretended to look at the readings in the nearest machine, made a noise of annoyance, as though I’d just remembered something.  The guards remained uninterested.  I opened the med supply cabinet.  Because this was important – very important – they had every drug known to me, and some I wasn’t sure about.  Just in case they were required, of course.

I pocketed three injectors of Morpheus into my lab coat.  Better than burners those were.  One shot and you’d sleep for hours.

And then I found what I was looking for.


First time I saw Fuse in person, he was frowning at me.  It wasn’t exactly an hostile frown, more the type of look a man gives to a puzzle he’s not sure of being able to solve.

He was big, but what I believe is called “rawboned.”  Though he looked like he could take things – to include most people – apart with his bare hands, his bones seemed to show through in cheekbones and shoulders, wrists, and his large, blunt-looking hands.

He was not conventionally handsome. Though he was wearing some sort of new-silk suit, jacket elaborately cut, pants that followed his legs in a way that could only be achieved by a highly trained tailor, there was nothing pretty or dainty or high-class about him.  From his, impeccably cut but unruly, dark hair, to his heavy brows, if I hadn’t known who he was; if I hadn’t seen him in the news more than once, I’d have thought he was a body guard, or some kind of heavy muscle hired for the occasion.

At least I’d have assumed that till I looked at his eyes, which were lively, curious, and intent.  He caught me looking and smiled back, a confident smile.  Of course, what wouldn’t he have to smile about?  He was the only son of one of the fifty men who, between them, ruled over the Earth and disposed of all of its wealth.  He probably hadn’t heard the word “no”, ever, in his whole life.

But I was here to certify him healthy.  Not that there could be any doubt of this man’s health, but I suppose his aged father was worried.  Not that in my few encounters with the Good Man I’d found him the worrying kind.  Or the caring kind.  Or the human kind.  But that was probably my prejudice and the fact I didn’t know the Good Man very well.  I could feel his eyes on me now, from where he watched his son – and presumably me – from a sort of dais at the end of the room, from which he presided over the hundred and some people in attendance.

So I smiled back at the heir to the Good Man.  He tilted his head sideways, and the frown of puzzlement accentuated.

Then he was at my side, suddenly.  “You’re not one of the normal people at these things.”


“My father’s parties.  Deadly dull, aren’t they?”

It wasn’t my place to criticize the Good Man, and the heir was staying unnervingly just out of reach, so I inclined my head and didn’t say anything.

“Who are you?”

“Adelaide Hawkins,” I said.  And added, not sure it was a good idea, but needing it as a sort of shield, before those very observant eyes.  “Doctor Adelaide Hawkins.”

He rolled his eyes and smiled.  “Ah, one of my father’s endless body-keepers.  You work for Doctor Belmont?”

I nodded.

“Well, you’re far better looking than him,” he said.  “I approve.  Do you dance?”

I did, sort of, having been taught all the necessary social graces in the boarding school for promising young people to which I’d been sent while still a toddler.  I’d even danced: at school functions, at formal parties at the lab.

Dancing with Fuse was a different experience.  I’d later find out he couldn’t actually read minds.  But in his dancing, it was as though he could.  Held close to him, I was still able to dance, but his body and mine seemed to guess each other, as though he were aware of each of my minimal movements, my smallest gestures.  Which of course, he was.  It was part of how he was designed, and probably not even conscious.  Though I didn’t know that at the time.

I got a read on the med bracelet during the dance.  I’d planned to leave immediately after I got it.  But that big, surprisingly calloused hand got hold of mine, when the dance was done, and his deep, slightly scratchy voice whispered in my ear, “Hey, can I show you something?”

Good girls with enough brains to be doctors were taught early and often not to listen to the blandishments of men with power and position, particularly one who had a reputation as the love-them-and-leave-them sort, a reputation even I – who rarely paid attention to social gossip – was aware of.

But he seemed less like a vile seducer, and more like a little boy who wanted me to show you his rock collection.  Against my best judgement, I said yes.


Rummaging in the medical supply cabinet, in this hospital room set up in the Good Man’s mansion, I found the injector I was looking for.  It wasn’t what I wanted, as such.  Given my choice, I’d have used something more gentle.  But there wasn’t anything more gentle, and I didn’t have the days something like that would take to work.  I had… probably thirty seconds.  Maybe less.

Feeling as though a clock were counting down in my head, I grabbed the red injector.  It was the sort of thing we used to bring patients back from comas.  It didn’t always work, but when it worked, it was fast.  A little rough but fast.  Sometimes patients took a while to get their bearings and remember who they were.  But they were awake and moving.  In this case, I might have to settle for that.

Walking towards the bed, I was so afraid the guards would notice, that my heart beat drowned out the beeps of the machinery.

Before I used the injector, and despite the press of time, I couldn’t resist.  Fuse’s face did not look like it had when I’d first met him.  One of the sides was slack, in the way that denotes brain damage.  There were scars crisscrossing face and scalp.  I traced a scar from his scalp to his chin.  It would get taken care of, of course, and it didn’t matter provided his mind came back.

If it was given a chance to.

I put the injector to his neck, hidden in the palm of my hand, away from the guards, and pushed to activate it.

Fuse’s eyes flew open.  He sat up screaming.

I couldn’t have hoped for better.


“These are illegal,” said, stupidly, when Ajith Mason took me via a bewildering set of passageways and rooms to an outer room, where he removed a broom from a closet.

Brooms are antigrav wands, thus called as a joke on the mythical witch’s transport.  They can be anywhere from two feet long and two palms in diameter, with absolutely no features, to what was called in slang “loads.”  Loads were brooms about five feet long, with saddle and oxygen masks and other fittings that made for a very comfortable ride.  This one was a… loaded Load, a broom outfitted for two people.  Ajith Mason had removed it from a closet and set it on the marble tiles, then turned back to rummage in the closet for something else.

As he turned around, holding a coat, he grinned, and the corner of his eyes crinkled in mischievous amusement.  “Very,” he said.  Then handed me the coat.  “I’m sorry.  It will be very big, but you’re really not dressed for broom riding.”

No, a backless dress could not be considered ideal for broom riding.  Not that I’d ever gone broom riding, though I’d seen it a lot in sensis and read novels where people did broom ride.  Usually, the characters who broom rode were desperate, or criminals, or something, not the heir to a domain that included one of the largest and most productive Seacities, several algae farms and processing plants and vast territories in North America.

“These pants will help also,” he said, pulling padded leather pants from the closet.  “Here, tuck your dress in.  I’ll help.”

Look, I’m really not a complete idiot.  And I’d read enough fiction and even true crime accounts to know what happened when young wastrel took innocent to an isolated place on a forbidden form of conveyance.  Only it wasn’t like that. No.  It really wasn’t like that.  There was no menace, and certainly no lecherous feeling from Ajith.  It was back to the little boy who wanted to show me his rock collection.  The best way to convey me there was on a broom, so we were going on a broom, and he was almost endearingly blind to how this would look from the outside.

He did help me tuck in the dress, and he found me ridiculously large boots that could go over my dainty evening shoes.  Then he dressed himself.

Moments later we were aloft, with me held in front, between his arms, as though he were afraid I would fall, or perhaps throw myself down.  He reached past me to control the broom.

Sea and sky were dark velvet studded with shining diamonds.


Fuse’s scream brought the two guards towards us. No way it wouldn’t happen.  It was merely human.  Then ran towards me, and I was ready, with the two Morpheus injectors, one on each neck, fast.

One of them must be tough as nails.  Before he collapsed, he had time to try to grab at my shoulder, but then his hand went lax, and he fell to the floor in a heap, next to his comrade.  I grabbed their burners.  Waste not, want not.  I stepped to the door and barred it, pulling a supply cabinet in front of it, and only then did I turn towards Fuse on the bed.

The truth is, I was afraid what I would meet in those once so bright eyes.  But what I met was the same intent frown he’d given me the first night we’d met.  His mouth worked, as if trying to find a memory to put with what his eyes told him.  “Angie?” he said. Then shook his head, and said, “No.  Addie.”

“Yes, love,” I said, in a whisper.  The guards had gone down without a sound, but Fuse had screamed.  And that could send the guards running towards us.  I waited, my heart thudding so hard in my chest I was sure everyone else could hear it.

“Love?” he said.  Then “Love…”  He frowned and touched his lips, as though trying to find the memory of all the lost kisses.  Or maybe his lips just felt funny.  “What? What?  What… Where?”

He’d been captured in a special mission by his father’s guards, but there was no time to explain that.  “You’re in your father’s mansion.”

It was the wrong thing to say.  I’d planned on turning off the machines, before he removed sensors, but it was too late for that.  He was pulling leads off his body, there were shrieks from the machines.  From outside came the sound of running, and frantic knocking on the door.

“Listen,” I said, grabbing Fuse’s arm, not sure he could even understand.  “Listen.  There is only one way we get you out of here alive.”


“Fireworks?” I said, in some puzzlement.  Though my concentration of study was health sciences, my hobby had always been ancient history.  I read it and watched sensis and sometimes lived part time in the past.  I suppose it compensated for having no life in the present.  I’d read about fireworks, but never actually seen it.

Ajith Mason laughed, delighted at surprising me.  “I like explosions,” he said.  “But there’s so few socially acceptable types of explosions.  I once blew up a hole in my father’s pleasure gardens.  I was five.  I used household chemicals.  After that, I learned … to use my talent in other ways.  I–  Never mind.  My broomer’s lair…  Uh.  I probably should not have told you there was such a thing.”

Given the way he piloted a broom, I’d already guessed there was such a thing.  I shrugged.  “So you blow up things for the broomer’s lair?”  Seemed odd.  Did he engage in full out war?

He laughed.  “We made a lair out of a bubble in the dimatough base of a seacity.  And we had to enlarge it.”  He shrugged.  “It was great fun. Controlled explosions.  But … but there’s other stuff.  I did rockets for a while, for fun, also controlled explosions.  Then I read about fireworks and I learned to create them.

We were in a small island, not too far from the Seacity, but far enough that our activities here should cause no alarm.  It was a natural island, probably ten acres or so in size, mostly beach, with a little summit crowned with thin dirt over rock, and a few wind-swept stunted trees.

Ajith had a small cabin there, the sort of thing you buy pre-built and can fly in pieces in a flier.

“Which is exactly what I did, piece by piece, without telling my father,” he said.  “And stop calling me Ajith.  Only Father calls me that.  The servants call me Patrician Mason.  My friends call me Fuse.”

“I can’t imagine why,” I said, wryly, and he turned back from what he was doing, picking and choosing through a pile of things in a cabinet: cylindrical things, mostly to give me another of his crinkle-eye smiles.

He took an armful of the cylindrical objects out, and set the, some distance away from the cabin, then came back, grabbed a blanket he set in front of the cabin door, and told me to sit and stay, as if I were a pup.

He, himself, ran down the beach to where he’d set things up, then ran back, his face flushed, to put his arm around me as we sat on the blanket.  Moments later, there was a boom, and a flower of light in all colors of the rainbow bloomed in the sky, reflected in the sea.  “Fireworks,” he said.

And indeed there were.


“You’re going to have to hold me hostage,” I told him.

Fuse was sitting on the side of the bed, naked as the day he’d been born.  The scars couldn’t distract from his powerful, muscular body, and I thought with a pang that I’d not given any thought to getting him dressed, damn it.  The problem with doing this sort of planning without Fuse, was that he was the one who did the planning for all our escapades before.

While the guards pounded on the door, I started undressing the largest guard.  Thank all divinities, he was wearing an all-piece thing, and not dimatough armor.  Dimatough armor, I’d heard, took several people to remove.

This was a matter of pulling a long fastener open, then wrestling it off the man.  Fuse tried to pull my arm.  “Angie? Annie? Addie?”

“Yes love.”

“I have to get out.  My father wants to kill me.”

“I know, love.”  The whole undressing the guard thing had taken a couple of minutes.  The door was buckling, and, from the sound, someone had brought something bigger, like a large piece of furniture, to push into the door, propelled by several large men.  Then would be here in no time.

“Just hold me hostage, all right?” I said.  I pushed a burner into his hand.  “Hold this to my head.”

He looked confused.  I was giving a burner to a man who would sometimes in the last ten years have had trouble remembering his own name.  And who would probably now be worse, due to the nanocite treatments just starting.  The brain is a delicate instrument, I had reason to know.  It was easier to break than to put together, easier to confuse than to assemble into coherent shape.


Fuse and I had been seeing each other for months, friendship proceeding by slow steps and then transmuting to love.

I not only had said nothing at the lab – I was required to be of “good moral character” to work as one of the Good Man’s doctors, after all – but we’d both kept it as silent as possible.

It never occurred to me that it might turn into marriage, and I’m not even sure why.  After all few Good Men married daughters of other Good Men.  All told the Good Men must use some form of sex control in their children, because there were very few daughters.  So they married their own subjects.  But the people they married were usually the daughters of merchants and other rich families, not doctors who had been removed from their families at two for being smart enough to enroll in special schools, and whose parents were common laborers.

I wasn’t the kind that made a Patrician by marriage.  Which was just as well, because I was starting to suspect that Fuse was a very unlikely Patrician himself.  I’d found out he hated parties as much as I did, and he read almost as much, and had as unlikely a turn for history.

Often, on weekends, in his cabin, we spent all day reading.  But at night there were always fireworks.

Still, it surprised me when I caught hints that he was due in at our facility for some kind of procedure.

Look, it was rare enough for us to have patients in.  They needed to be pretty essential to the Good Man, and sick with something that no one else could figure to rate our facility.  But Fuse wasn’t sick.  I’d bet my life on that.  I knew exactly how healthy he was.

I asked Doctor Belmont, “Patrician Mason needs surgery?”

Doctor Belmont looked scared, for just a second.  It was so quick, I probably shouldn’t have seen it.  “Yes.  It’s a congenital issue.  We’re changing it, before his father dies.  He’s pretty ill, you know, and Patrician Mason must be ready to inherit.”

Where do our fears come from?  And our certainties?  Maybe it was because I’d been working on the genetics of Good Man Mason and finding all sorts of abnormalities that betrayed his not being – as “everyone knew” – “the most genetically pure and natural of humans” but in fact highly engineered and with seeming stops to reproduction and cloning, just like the ones that were said to be set on Mules before the turmoils.  Maybe it was the expression on Doctor Belmont’s face.  Maybe it was something else.

I just know I was suddenly absolutely sure that if Fuse came in for this procedure he’d not leave the facility alive.  Or at least not alive and himself.  There would be something done to him; something to change his rebellious nature perhaps.  Something that would make him not-Fuse.

I had to tell him.


As the door cracked and splintered, I grabbed the rope ladder from my pocket.  It was the only thing I’d been able to bring with me, because it was so small, rolled into a tiny ball.  “Hold me hostage till you get to the window,” I said, praying he’d understand.  “Then go, fast, fast.  I drive a red Gryphon 3000.  I have already set the gencode so you can open it.”  I risked a look at his eyes, and they seemed attuned to me, fully conscious.  He nodded.

Then he put the burner to my head as the door cracked open and guards came in.  “Stop or I shoot,” he said.  But that wasn’t even to protect himself.  It was to protect me. I hadn’t had time to explain, but I had to make it look like I wasn’t compliant.

The guards didn’t stop, and were on me in no time.  But Fuse had already left down the rope ladder, fast, fast, and when I could extricate myself, because the guards were screaming into comlinks, he was running through the parking lot, a blur almost too fast for the eye to see.

Thank heavens whoever created the mules who became the Good Men gave them extraordinary speed of movement.


“They are the Mules,” Fuse said.  He had taken my warning to heart, mostly because he hadn’t known of any procedure he had to go through, large or small.  So we’d used my credentials to break into my workplace late at night.

It turned out another of those unexplained abilities that Fuse had was a facility with computers.  He’d managed to defeat several levels of security and access secret files.  “Addie, they are the Mules. From the twenty first, before the Turmoils.  The ones that were built as supermen and became the Bio Lords.”

“They can’t be,” I said, looking over his shoulder at a treasure trove of archaic writing.  “They’d be 300? 400? Years old?”  The uncertainty came from how bad records had got during the turmoils, and how many had been lost.

“They are,” Fuse said.  “They are.  No, hold on.  You see, they have heirs to pretend that succession takes place, but we’re really just “clones” of our fathers, and our “mothers” are window dressing.  When time comes for us to “inherit” our brain is removed from our heads, and our father’s brain transplanted in.

It had taken a long time for me to believe it.  It was too monstrous.  If I hadn’t been a history buff I might not have believed it.  But there was too much in the documents Fuse found that was obviously corroborated by other sources that this too, as unbelievable as it was, must be true.

It was almost dawn when Fuse said, “All right.  We must run away Addie.  But before we do, I must warn my broomer’s lair.”

To my blank look, he said, “I have to, darling.  Many of them are also so called children of Good Men.”

He kissed me hard, and left on his broom, leaving me to clean up and pretend we’d never broken into the system.

I didn’t see him again until he was brought in, as a patient for regen and brain rehabilitation, in his so called father’s Mansion.

By then Doctor Belmont was near retirement, and he had to trust me.  He had no reason not to.  He didn’t know that the night Fuse’s intrusion into the clinic’s system had been detected and Fuse had been followed by his father’s guards while trying to warn his broomer lair I had been his accomplice.  He didn’t know that when Fuse got severely injured flying through an old cargo-unloading machine, and become, functionally, a six year old in a scarred adult body, it had broken my heart.

He didn’t know I knew why Fuse must now be publicly healed and rehabilitated so he could inherit.  His father was suffering from a particularly aggressive, incurable cancer.  And the heir he’d created after Fuse’s accident was less than ten years old.

Which meant that he must make Fuse a plausible heir.

And I must save Fuse.


I didn’t see Fuse take my flyer, and for the longest time, while counselors and guards questioned me and made no sense of my “hysterical” answers, I didn’t even know if he’d understood what I told him, or if he tried to run off on foot.

I knew that he hadn’t been caught, because they kept asking me where he might have gone.

My home or the cabin is where I’d hoped he’d gone.  More likely the cabin, since his father didn’t know about it.

But afterwards, after I’d got a report my flyer had crashed and burned, but there were no human remains aboard, I’d checked the cabin and it was deserted and unused.

And I didn’t know if Fuse would ever remember me, or come back to me.  I hoped, but I couldn’t know.  The brain is such a tricky thing.  And the heart is even more so.  Perhaps as he slowly healed, he’d find another love.  Perhaps the parts of his memory that contained our firelit nights were gone forever.

But I’d saved him.  And I’d set him free.

If you love something set it free and watch it fly.  Even if it flies away forever.

Happiness was knowing that somewhere Fuse was forging his own destiny, alive and soon to be well.

And wherever he was, I loved him.

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This story is set in the universe of Darkship Thieves and is a prequel to:



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Recently I was trying to talk to a friend who was one of the beta readers on a novel, along with a dozen other people.

My friend was the only one who returned the book with “needs to be completely rewritten.  This is not a novel.”  It appears everyone else returned it with “not my thing, but it is very well written.”

Of course, under the Sarah rule of thumb, if only one person complains you ignore him/her and my friend was in near hysterics because this person, who is a mutual friend, will now think she’s being evil or has it in for the writer, or something.

The catch there is that my friend is the only writer in the bunch of beta readers.

I was reminded of this yesterday as someone dropped by my blog to chide me for a typo (would you believe, a green grocers apostrophe? Yep, it’s one of my pet peeves, too, but the fingers have a mind of their own.) He said he normally wouldn’t have mentioned anything, but the author is an author, and a well-regarded one (that last was news to me, but okay.)

It brought home to me again that writers talking about writing, and lay people talking about writing mean completely different things.

First, typos happen. I have a friend who used to work for a scientific publisher, as the head of a team of copy editors.  Because he’s very exact, he had each of his team initial each paragraph after they proofed it.  And yet, there would still be typos when it got to him.  This is because humans don’t have it in them to be exact, and because typing is largely muscle memory.  In my case, I’ve determined I type by taking dictation from my head.  If I’m tired, I started exchanging words that sound alike to me (because accent) like leave and live.  If I’m exhausted my fingers invent their own language.  For instance, the only f sound in the alphabet is ph.  So I phall phatally phorward.  I don’t know why, but my older son has the same issue (can this kind of typo be genetic.)  If I’m TRULY out of it, like at the end of a three-day novel, I type entire sentences in reverse, something I couldn’t do if I TRIED.  My fingers are weird.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

It is a mark of the amateur novelist that there will be no typos at all in the manuscript.  This is because the manuscript has been gone over a hundred times.  It is also the mark of the amateur novelist that there will be no life in the manuscript.  This is because the manuscript has been gone over a hundred times.

However, when you have first readers who aren’t writers, you need to be alert to “what they think we do” (like those posters with, you know, what my mom thinks I do, what I really do, etc.)  The general public thinks the first qualification of a professional writer is to be sort of a super spelling and grammar person.  We are extremely good with written language.  We never make a mistake!

(At that you should be grateful, because now we have computers, and before that typewriters.  My grandfather, otherwise an intelligent man, once told me that I’d never be a writer, because my handwriting was impossible to decipher.  Apparently, in the times before typewriters — in Portugal, at least — we were also supposed to be expert calligraphers.)

In fact there is a not inconsequential overlap between writing fiction and dyslexia.  No one is absolutely sure why, but there is.  As in, more of us are dyslexic than of the general public.  Also, in matters of grammar and punctuation, we are much like the rest of the public.  We’re often uncertain where commas should be, and each of us has a theory of how to apply them.  Except me, of course, I missed punctuation day in all seven languages, so I punctuate by guess and golly.

Because I’m a writer, and writers have fledgelings while they’re still fledgelings themselves, as we all trudge around looking for someone with just a little bit more of a clue to show us an inch more of the way towards craft mastery, I’ve read manuscripts at all levels of professsionalism, from raw beginner to best sellers (yeah, I have bestselling friends.  Yeah, sometimes they too want to know if a scene or a chapter, or a plot works before mailing it in.)  Typos, grammar mistakes, dropped words and haphazard commaing (totally a word) happen at all levels.

However, when readers-who-aren’t-writers tell you “it’s very well written” or “it’s beautifully written” what they mean in fact, is that they found no typos or grammar mistakes.

If you let yourself be lulled into a sense of false security by this, and slap your manuscript up on Amazon, you’ll be riding for a fall.  You could have written how to boil cabbage for 400 pages, but provided all your letters are in the right place, and your punctuation works, amateurs or lay people will tell you “it’s beautifully written.”  In fact your manuscript could BE boiled cabbage.  They’ll still tell you it’s beautifully written provided it accords with the rules of the English language.  And, by the way, in passing, yeah, that can be a problem too.  If you’re writing dialogue, or first person, or whatever, sometimes you have to break the grammatical rules for it to sound “alive.”  People do talk in sentence fragments and run on sentences ALL THE TIME.

But the part you should pay attention to is “it wasn’t my type of thing.”  If a group of readers who have enjoyed your work in the past are all telling you that, no matter how grammatical your work is, you’ve misfired.

Your job is not to make sure every comma is in place, there are no spurious apostrophes, and no letter got misstyped.  Your job is to take the reader on a journey of the mind.  Your job is to make sure people live through the story, ideally as vividly as if it happened to them.

To mind the commas and the periods, the articles and the conjunctions is your copy editor’s job.

Your job is to start with a gripping sentence, then introduce details of your world as the story unrolls, and do it so sneakily, so stealthily, so exactly right, that people are captured in the story and would rather continue reading than eat, sleep or make love.

Your job is to be gripping.  Leave the copy-editors to take care of the typos.  You are the writer, and only you can weave the spell that will make readers live in your world for a little while and care about non-existent people as though they were their dearest friends.

THAT is a “beautifully written” novel.

Now go do that.






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It’s A Job – Christopher Nuttall

*This is Sarah — my being very ill over the last few years caused me to lose a lot of my professional habits.  Regaining them is harder than acquiring them the first time, so listen to the man.  However this trick of taking a week off between books is new to me.  When my last book dragged and I kept getting ill, several friends recommended I take a week off between books.  I’ve just finished the second book of the year, two months late. The temptation is to roll right over to the next one.  I’m trying not to.  This time I’m trying to take a week off from writing.  Of course this means doing work on my hobby which at this time in my life seems to be being a wife and mother.  (It used to be full time but the kids are grown and we only have one sort of in the house.) So I’m doing spring cleaning and going over my edited manuscripts so I can put stuff that reverted back up for sale and getting websites designed and back up, after we changed providers.  Light work.  What is the difference between that and a normal workday?  The difference is that when I woke up this morning and was really tired, I had the option of rolling over and going back to sleep.  I didn’t DO it, but the option was there. Normally it isn’t, because it’s a job.  You don’t say “Today I don’t feel like going to the office.”  And neither do I.-SAH*


It’s A Job – Christopher Nuttall


As I may have mentioned before, I get asked a lot of questions about how I write – what’s the big secret.  And I say, as I always do, that the big secret is that you need to work hard, that you have to treat your writing like a job.

I’ve had a lot of interesting responses to that answer over the last few years.  Some people – mainly other writers – have agreed with me.  Others, people who aren’t writers or don’t see their writing as anything more than a hobby, have disagreed with me.  I devalue writing, it seems, by classing it as work.  I understand that attitude, but I don’t agree with it.  Here’s why.

There are generally three kinds of authors in the world; the wannabe, the hobbyist and the professional.

The Wannabe wants to be a writer.  He or she will happily tell you about their great idea that will sell a thousand copies and bring in a million bucks, but – for some strange reason – their portfolio is a little light.  They will probably never have completed a manuscript, perhaps, or they’ll talk for hours about how something they wrote was picked up in a minor publication you’ve never heard of.   In short, the Wannabe wants to be a writer, but is unable or unwilling to do what it takes.

The Hobbyist has a day job.  He goes to work, 9-5 (or whatever) and then comes home, where he sits down at the computer and churns out a few hundred words.  It doesn’t matter to him (much) if he loses a day because he’s tired – writing is his hobby, not his job.  Quite a few authors are hobbyists; they’ve written a few books, but they’re not bringing in enough cash to justify quitting their day job and writing full time.

The Professional also has a day job – it’s called writing.  Writing is his sole source of income – he needs to bring in enough cash to avoid having to find a second job.  And so the professional has to treat his writing as a job.  You cannot take more than a few days off, at a regular job, without your boss giving you the stink-eye and threatening your career.  Writing is the same, only you’re your own boss.  You have to force yourself out of bed and write because no one else is going to do it for you.  Even my wife doesn’t make me work.

A writer who wants to be a Professional has to treat his writing as a job.  I cannot repeat that enough.  He has to have the discipline to work every day, to overcome minor setbacks and writer’s block, to start a project and carry it through to the end.  He doesn’t get to goof off in front of the computer, any more than the average office worker gets to use Facebook more than a few times during the day.  (My old workplace was death on Facebook.)  He has to work.

The writer is his own boss, but also his own business manager (unless he happens to really hit it rich, whereupon he can hire a business manager.)  He must handle everything from hiring cover artists and editors to promotion and doing his tax returns.  (And if he wants to hire an accountant, he has to do the work of hiring one.)  Negotiating with agents and publishers … the writer must do that too.  The writer is fundamentally alone in the world.

In addition – and this is something I don’t think most of the Wannabes grasp – he has to maintain his professional reputation.  In a normal job, you don’t want to give your boss a reason to dislike you, let alone fire you and badmouth you to your next set of prospective employers.  In writing, you don’t want to acquire a bad reputation.  There are no shortage of horror stories about ‘indie authors behaving badly.’  If you’re a boastful braggart with nothing to boast about, people will start avoiding you; if you unload your frustration on reviewers who dare to criticize your books, people will start thinking you’re an idiot.   Going to a convention and acting badly – however defined – will impinge on your career.

The writing world is bigger than it used to be, I admit, but someone who makes a bad reputation for themselves will find it haunts them for the rest of their career.

The professional writer has to be professional.  He must write a manuscript, then have it edited … without losing his cool.  He cannot afford to blow up at an editor who is only trying to help, even if the editor is in the wrong.  He must approach his work in a professional manner, considering each suggested change carefully before accepting or rejecting them.  He must read contracts carefully – getting legal advice if necessary – and then stick to them.  A publisher who feels that an author did not live up to his side of the contract is one who will not offer another contract.  (And a publisher who feels that he can take advantage of the author is one to be avoided.)

Above all, a professional writer cannot afford to give up.

As a general rule, my alarm goes off at 7am.  I get up, stumble downstairs and pour coffee down my throat.  Ideally, by 8am I’m in front of the computer working on the first chapter of my current project.  If I’m lucky, my infant son will remain asleep until I’ve finished the first chapter; whenever he wakes, I get coffee for my wife and then feed my son his breakfast until my wife comes down to take over.  And then I get back to work.  I spend between four and five hours a day on my computer, writing roughly 9000 words.

After the first draft is completed, I check through the beta-emails and insert all the changes (or at least the ones I accept) and then send the book to the editors (or to kindle, if it’s a self-published work.)  I generally take a week off between books, but I have to work on plots and suchlike during that time.  I carry a notebook around with me to scribble down ideas, just in case something hits me while I’m out.

How you comport yourself often has a bearing on your career.  Disagreeing with the boss is fine – depending on the boss, I suppose – but being an a-hole about it is not.  Writers have opinions, just like everyone else; writers have every right to express those opinions, without being a-holes about it.  There are quite a few people who disagree intensely with me about politics, but I still get on with them because they’re not a-holes about it.  Picking fights over politics (or whatever) is pointless, when it isn’t destructive.  And picking fights with reviewers just makes you look like an ass.

Professional writers remain focused on their work.  Writing is good, editing is good, designing covers is good (assuming you have the talent to design a good cover.)  Going to conventions and suchlike is useful – I’ve made a few contacts there – but it’s not the be-all and end-all.  I’ve noticed that people pay more attention to your opinions after you’ve achieved something in the field – a couple of people I know seem to spend all their time going to conventions and none actually writing, despite which they still call themselves writers.  Let your work speak for you – offers of publication, collaboration and suchlike come in after you’ve proved you can do the work.

Like I said, professional writing is a job.

There’s nothing wrong with being enthusiastic about your job – or your writing.  I wouldn’t hold that against anyone.  But enthusiasm has to be tempered with hard common sense.  Most of the mistakes I’ve seen newbie writers make wouldn’t happen if they didn’t let their enthusiasm overwhelm their judgement.  Wannabes become professionals through learning from their mistakes.

It isn’t easy.  There’s a basic rule of thumb that suggests that each writer has to write at least a million words before he or she has anything publishable.  Too many wannabe writers have wasted too much time trying to find shortcuts.  (If you hear a story of someone’s first book selling well, I’d bet good money the author has quite a few unpublished manuscripts in his stable.)  There are too many shortcuts advertised on the web that are – at best – useless; at worst, they’re nothing more than scams.  I understand the desire to find a shortcut, but it doesn’t really exist.  The only way out is through …


… And the only way to go through is by treating writing as a job.


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You’re Real

Lapin nain photographe

It is not the first time I heard this argument.  It won’t be the last.  Today, talking to a friend, discussing a definitely unfavorable contract I once signed, I got this answer “I’d sign that.  If I had just one contract, I’d know I was a real writer.”

Seriously?  Seriously, guys, you’re going to go with that?  Do you need your manuscript to be hand-copied by real monks too?  Or do you just need it to be printed in an authentic traditional hand operated press? Or will you just be happy if your books are stitched together by hand?

Look, ascribe this — and the fact this post is really late — to my having a blinding headache and feeling generally like an eighteen wheeler ran me over.  The reason Kate filled in for me yesterday is that I had a doctor’s appointment at eight am.  Today I have antibiotic from hell.  Which is good, because pain from a double ear infection and sinus and throat infection was making me scream and moan, sometimes in public.  (And no, you shouldn’t be worried.  This is all part of the edge I walk, between managing the auto-immune, with meds that knock out my immune system, then managing illness.  A single severely stressful episode (January.) can set it off and it takes months to stabilize.  On the good side, I’ve been doing this my whole life, and I’m still here.)  So, I’m crankier than usual, which is something NO ONE wants to experience.

However, you DO have to understand our field is experiencing a great change because of technology.  If you write non-fic you’re still fine, but if you write fiction, the traditional publishing slots will keep diminishing and traditional publishing will slowly shed anyone not a proven bestseller.  Why?  Because that’s the only way to support their greater expenses in publishing AND to make it worth it for a writer to sign a part of their profit away.  I expect in as many as ten years, as few as three, traditional publishers will be the people already successful authors sign with to go to “the next level.”  At least they will be if both sides are smart.

MOST people, and certainly most midlisters (including me.  I’m not being snooty) will go indie as a matter of course.  And many more of them will thrive than could under the old model.  And readers will be more choice.

BUT I also predict that any number of writers will sign bad contracts with small to medium presses that can do NOTHING they can’t do themselves, but which will happily take 90% of the author’s profit for…


Legitimacy, it seems.  It seems most of you are Velveteen Writers TM.

Well, no one ever accused me of being the blue fairy, but I’m here to make you all Real Writers TM.

How do you know you’re a real writer?

Real writers write, most of them every day or pretty close.  If you’re doing that, you’re already a real writer.

Ah, but you want to be a professional writer.  When is that magical threshold crossed?  Surely you need a contract for that?

Sh*t.  If you need a contract that bad, print one up and sign it.

Professional writers make a significant amount of their living from writing.  If you’re doing that you’re professional.

But what if you’re only making a few hundred a month from writing?

Well, congratulations.  You’re making as much as most traditionally published writers.  With first time advances not at 2 to 3k and a book a year for those without a following, you are probably making as much a year as most “professionals” eligible to join “professional” organizations.  I hereby dub you a professional.  Go get yourself a glass of water and celebrate.  And then work, so you can make more money.

But what if you only make a few hundred a year from writing?  If only you could get some contracts.

Sh*t and shovel!  I spent the first four years as a published author (short stories) making about $200 a year.  It was enough to take the kids out for pizza a few times.  This is known as semi-pro.  It’s also known as apprenticing.

A contract won’t make you real.  Writing more will make you real.  Indie and traditional both thrive on content.  The more you write the more you’ll make.  And in indie, this is all in your hands.  You don’t need anyone to give you permission.

Go write and publish.  Stop obsessing about being real.  I say you’re real, and in proof thereof, I’ve made the following certificate, which you can download, fill in and print at your convenience.

STOP GIVING AWAY part of you income for nothing, particularly to small presses of dubious value.  Write.  Publish.  Repeat.  Become a professional.

certificate of real


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Write Like The Wind

There was a time I wrote a short story in six months.  I took days to write it, weeks to lovingly polish it, MONTHS of agonizing over every word.  Then I sent it out.  And it was rejected.  (All but one, which was accepted eight times, but killed magazines and/or editors. No, I don’t know why.)

Then I attended the Kris and Dean Oregon Coast Professional Writers Workshop (the first) and in those two weeks we HAD to — had to — produce five short stories and two novel proposals.  I did.  Also, at this point all of those short stories have sold.

After that I launched into a year of a short story a week (while writing two novels.)  It was a challenge of my writers’ group.

We didn’t succeed.  I think I ONLY wrote forty short stories.

The funny thing was, recently, reading over my past stories (I was transferring things from diskette) that the quality difference, after about a quarter of a story a week, more or less, was marked, visible and obvious.  I was much better after a quarter of forced production.  And from that point on, pretty much all the short stories have sold.

Novels too started being much faster.  Honestly, if I can stabilize my health at some point, a novel a month is neither unfeasible nor unreasonable.  I once wrote two novels (Heart and Soul and Plain Jane) in a month, and finished another one, though I can’t remember which (might have been one of the Musketeer books.)  In fact the main reason I didn’t write a book a month back when I was healthy was that in traditional publishing there was nothing I could do with that many books.  (Ah, for a way to send my old-self a little note.)

One of you emailed me last week and asked me if writing that fast was some trick that could be taught.

Sort of.  I’m not sure it can be taught, but it can be learned.  It’s a frame of mind you put yourself in, a mental block you remove.  And the only way to put it firmly in place is if you PRACTICE it and set yourself deadlines and goals.

However to the extent I can help, there are some principles to keep in mind that might help break the barrier.

1- how long you take to write a story doesn’t make it better or worse.  My highest-selling book was written in two days, and the next-highest-selling in two weeks.  By the standard that counts “how many people pay out good money to read this?” my faster written books are the best.

2- nine times out of ten the things you’re agonizing about on the story aren’t really important.  No, seriously.  Things like passive voice, overuse of to-be and too many adjectives and adverbs are things editors and critics care about, but most readers don’t notice, not if your voice is confident and strong enough.

3- Keeping a strong voice is much easier if you write the story fast.

So, that’s why.  Now HOW to do it.

1- Write as fast as you can.  If you are a slow typist, try voice dictation.  Put your mind in the story and write as fast as humanly possible.

2- Don’t edit.  I can’t say that enough DO NOT EDIT.  Write to the end without editing.  If you typed teh instead of the, it will wait till you’re done.

3- To facilitate do not edit, DO NOT read back to see what you did yesterday.  For best results leave yourself a sticky note about where you are going next.  That way you don’t need to read what you wrote and be tempted into editing.

4- if you’re an outliner, have a complete outline before you start, and then mark on the outline what you’re doing tomorrow.

5- if you’re a partial outliner like me, outline what you’re doing tomorrow at the end of the work day.

6- Did I mention write as fast as you possibly can?  Short story or novel race to the end.

7- Once you’re done fix typos then let it sit for a week.  This is an excellent time to send it to your betas, unless like me your idea changed in the middle and your beginning and end don’t match.

8- Fix continuity issues.

9- Make sure all your foreshadowing points right.

10- Make sure you got all your points in.

11- Do not revise/get caught in rewrites more than three times.  Three times, and let it go.

12 – move on to the next project.

Now I can say all this till I’m blue in the face, but you HAVE to practice it.  You HAVE TO PRACTICE it.  But if you do, I guarantee you’ll get better.



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Finding Meaning

Years ago, when I went to the Kris and Dean Oregon Coast Professional Writers’ workshop, I found myself listening to the things they were saying on HOW to write, and finally asked Kris, “But what about why you write?  How do I work on that?”

I got back a puzzled look (as I should) and the words that we were each supposed to find WHY we wrote.  Or words to that effect.

Which was right and just, since while most of us have no clue why we write, we know we can’t stop.  If we want to make up a pretty story about why we write, GOOD.  No one can stop us.

In my case I write because otherwise people object to my kidnapping total strangers to tell them stories.

But is every story alike?  Do I write to tell people a certain set of facts?  What meaning do I find in my work.


Well… No, every story is not alike.  Very early on I identified certain stories which I called “heart’s blood.”  More on that later.

Do I write to tell people a certain set of facts?  Not noticeably.  There are two short stories I planned to write, to get a point of view across.  The first, the point of view was supposed to be that there is no such thing as perfect diplomacy.  Sometimes even with the best translations and intentions, diplomatic efforts will only precipitate war. It never got written.  Yes, the story made sense, and had a point, but I had no impetus to write it.

The second story was about how boomers were using social blue models to loot the younger generations, and what this would cause, in terms of upheaval and backlash.  Never wrote it.  True, but way too depressing.

So, no.  I write stories that form complete in my mind, and which do, sometimes, include elements of political or cultural things I believe.  I write things that fascinate me and interest me.

They might have my beliefs in them.  But they aren’t started or written to preach.

But if not to promulgate my views, what are stories for?

Well, “heart’s blood” stories come alive.  There are real people with real things at stake and a real struggle to make things come out right.  I CARE for the characters and the situation.  I want it to come out right.  I’m riveted.

Which is why heart’s blood stories usually capture others too.

I mean, what kind of art is it if when you look at it you need to have it explained to you how it’s good because it supports the right principles?  Oh, wait, modern art.  Never mind.

Art: real art throughout the centuries can speak across the centuries, regardless of how much society has changed and how much the principles believed in have changed.  We’re not any longer the solid Catholic society in which Leonardo DaVinci worked, but the Virgin of the Rocks still speaks to us and hits us in the emotions.

Shakespeare’s wording has aged, and sure we know some of it was Tudor propaganda, but the stories still live and the characters are true.

But what about promulgating the just and right ideas?  What is art if it doesn’t speak truth to power?

Art is art.  Whether it serves propaganda purposes or not, art remains art.  Whether it opposes or endorses the “power” in society doesn’t matter.  Richard III was an hatchet job.  It’s also, undeniably art.

Do not let yourself be gulled into writing this or that because “this must be said” or that “Is speaking truth to power.”  Sure, if those are your reasons to write, that’s fine, but ultimately?  It can mask what you’re doing so you produce very bad art.  I.e. if you’re concentrating on preaching the “right” (or left) “truths” you’re not concentrating on making the world and the characters live in their own right and be true art.  Sure.  Some people can do it.  But you’re making it exponentially harder.

Write heart’s blood.  Write what makes your heart sing.  If people tell you that it’s wrong, and that you should write truth to power, or power to truth, or whatever they tell you you should do, ignore them.

True art, or as close as you can get to it, is eternal.  Ignore ephemeral concerns.  Go and write.  That is the meaning and the whole of the meaning.  Go and write stories that live.  Nothing else matters.











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Stretching Exercises

Both of the posts this week, Dave Freer’s and Amanda Green’s are about not fully being able to anticipate the future.  I thought about them both when we drove past our old neighborhood and I realized the college is expanding dorms massively, now within a block of our old house.

All well and good, and my kids’ college, which is different is doing the same.  Expanding the dorms, making them spiffier, adding to the on site facilities, etc.

At the same time, tech marches on, and as usual, marches in directions that makes these dorms and facilities a supremely stupid “investment.”

It reminds me of five years ago, when, in the first flush of selling ebooks, and frankly not accounting for them too well, all the NY publishers were expanding their quarters, and getting spiffier buildings.  Now they’re firing authors.

The truth is that Education might think it’s immune to the tech stick, because governmental loans have made them fat and sassy, and who will trust an internet educational certificate?

But you know, the change is already in the wind.  The same way that trad publishers made the indie revolution easier by having this idea they could push taste onto their readers, instead of treating them like customers to be wooed, the traditional educational system is cooperating in its own demise by pouring out totally useless graduates, or worse, those who have been actively poisoned against the culture that shelters them.

When things change, they will change rapidly and terribly, as they did for publishing.

Six years ago I thought I was too late to the indie revolution.  And nowadays I live in fear of not catching up to change fast enough.  Other indies and I discuss options all the time.  And sometimes things still blindside us.

In this environment it doesn’t do to be too confident, or to get set in a rut.  And not JUST on how to market.  How to write too.  It helps to scope out the competition and “spontaneous hits.”  (That means those that don’t have push and money behind them.)

Not that you should write what other people write, but you should be aware what is selling, and what style it is, so you know what to do.

One of the things that is important to do, as it’s been borne upon me in the course of my (argh) starting to be long career is to have what Kris Rusch called “as many tools in your toolbox as possible.”

All of us have restrictions, and some of them are internal.  Currently, for various reasons, I’m writing a book I’d never write on my own.  Its structure is not something I would ever conceive of on my own, though I’ve read and enjoyed books like it.  I think I can do it, and hope so, since other people are depending on me, but it’s so new that everything feels “odd”.

Because your first time at everything will feel odd, better to try everything before it’s crucial.  Er… everything in writing.  Step down from the ledge. You only die once.

A lot of your internal stopping points are false ones.  There was a time I couldn’t write female characters.  This wasn’t exactly true but I couldn’t write female characters that made sense to Americans.  (I could write other ethnicities fine.)  However, I wrote Athena, and then I figured out how to write other people.  Kyrie didn’t even feel hard to write.

I’m still working on writing action, but I can see the time coming when it’s natural.

A lot of our stopping points are lack of practice.  Others will always stop us cold.  For instance, I can’t write sex.  Not because I’m prudish, but because I’m not a voyeur.  Described sex holds me out and bores me, whether I’m reading it or writing it.

So, include some writing stretching exercises in your routine.  Take a day a week, say, to write something that “doesn’t count” like, say, a short story, or a chapter of a story you’re not sure you’ll ever write.

Try a pov you’ve never written.  Try a genre you’ve never written.  Try a style you’ve never written.

Give it a whirl.  You might discover it’s not your thing.  Or you might add it to your core competency and enlarge your toolbox, the better to face the future with.
















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