Strike The Tent

The devil’s name is dullness. Robert E. Lee

I have, in my own way, determined my path.

After weeks of a slash-and-burn policy regarding Paladin, I’ve decided to concentrate on the story and not the fifteen percent discount on words. I am still determined to tighten it, but I am done with the scorched earth policy,

The magic is missing in many places now and that magic may be the only thing I have to offer. Heaven knows there is nothing unique about magic, murder and mayhem. It’s a story that has been told since the beginning of time. Hopefully, the beta readers will find something that can be trimmed without sacrificing the story.

Otherwise, I may have sealed my fate with my portly manuscript.


  1. I’ll second the REL quote — not just in the sense of, like, “An idle mind is the devil’s playground,” but also because I HATE being bored. (Which is why I can’t blog about just one thing. 🙂

    Your instinct is right on this one. You’re probably starting to scalpel away at bone by now: not good.

    If YOU’RE missing the magic then the odds are not good for your readers, hmm?

  2. Your instinct is right on this one. You’re probably starting to scalpel away at bone by now: not good.

    If YOU’RE missing the magic then the odds are not good for your readers, hmm?

    I think you’re right. I may forget to mention word count in the query.

    It’s very close to done now. I’m still rearranging some chapters, but I will probably do the first read through this weekend and see what I have. Then go back and Martinize it and get it ready for beta readers.

    How is your WIP coming?

  3. Ah yes. The ol’ WIP.

    It’s hard to describe progress on it, because I’m still not actually (re)writing it. Until the last few months, I hadn’t read ANY of the first three drafts for, well, I don’t know — 5 or 6 years, maybe? (Draft #1 dates to 1993.)

    So what I’ve been doing recently (what puts the “W” in WIP, even if the “P” is vague [g]) is re… reading…. and….. taking…… notes on the earlier drafts. The main plotline has always been pretty clear in my head. And the main characters (6 in the “present-day” 1990ish time) are pretty well defined. But there’s a lot of complicated history to keep track of. (They’re all looking for something, and the thing they’re looking for has passed through many hands since they last saw it; in order to find it again, they have to fill in the blanks, so to speak.)

    And then there’s my central (and yet unsolved) problem in this final draft, when I do start writing it. Which is: Why are they looking for it, really? Curiosity alone won’t suffice. A superficial patina of altruism overlays the search, at least for one or two of them, but there are risks and psychological obstacles which I haven’t yet — convincingly — given them the cojones to overcome.

    So as far as progress is concerned, I’m probably procrastinating a little. I so want to get it right this time. Yes, true, blogging daily forces me to write something, and the writing — when it happens — will benefit from the practice. But unless and until it happens, y’know, the story doesn’t get told at all. Which eats at me.

    Well, you asked. [g]

  4. John,

    Do you have Donald Maass’ Writing The Breakout Novel?

    Some of his exercises helped me a lot. I also have that problem in making sure the characters have a valid reason for doing something.


  5. I do have Maas’s book, yes, as well as the workbook for it that came out a little later. Indispensable when I was working on Merry-Go-Round, although I haven’t revisited it for the WIP. (May be about time to do so.)

    This is good a time as any to tell you of your new crown, as a Superior Scribbler.

    And no, you may NOT pawn it.

  6. Julie, have you seen “The 10% Solution” by Ken Rand? It’s available at ( and probably other places as well. It’s essentially a list of words to search-and-replace on the computer… words that make the book, well, wordy.

    I used it on my last book (which, sadly, is about done with its agent hunt) and got my first two full manuscript requests and a bunch of “like the writing, send me your next project” responses.

    I blogged about it too:

    Might be worth a try. It can be TEDIOUS but it’s also a good way to cut unnecessary words.

    Good luck!

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