About

423871_346512598718857_1573396409_nThis site is about meaningful page-turning fiction. I’m starting to branch out into happiness and intelligent design, too, especially in my blog-novel: |:::|::: Hapa Girl DNA :::|:::| which I’m creating online here.

My background is in science and medicine (pathology), but I’ve studied fiction writing for a couple of decades and may have figured out a few things. I’ve read about 60 “how to” books on fiction writing and can’t seem to stop. It’s such a fascinating subject.

Much of the advice I’ve read, however, seems misguided – not “wrong,” but counterproductive. Some of it may be relevant to creative writing classes, but it emphasizes things that don’t matter much to average readers, the people who matter to me. The people I love.

Some of the dogma out there teaches habits that eat up creativity, in fact, focusing on word cosmetics and technical things like verb selection, sentence structure, clever twists of phrase, and an endless list of negatives that shut down creativity.

I used to write and record songs at home. The technical aspects of recording gear and software require logical, analytic thinking that smothers creativity with a plastic bag. It’s impossible to create a song while you’re struggling with a technical issue. Creativity in music requires a non-analytic environment where subtle feelings come out and the artist forgets herself.

It’s like that with fiction writing, too.

Much of the traditional fiction writing advice is technical stuff that should never cross your mind when creating first drafts. Or if you’re like me and struggle to separate first drafts from all the fuzzy intermediate stages, the word-centric concerns (as opposed to character and story-centered things) become a perfectionist’s quicksand.

The way we ask ourselves to write stories is like asking a songwriter to create a great new song and produce a polished recording of it at the same time. It’s not likely to happen.

Fiction writers have several creative jobs to do at the same time: characterization, plot, description, dialogue, etc. For me, even these creative aspects need to be tackled one at a time, as much as possible.

On top of that, we have an endless list of technical, “wordsmith” responsibilities that most of us try to perform while we’re working on the creative aspects. I wrote a little e-book on this, hoping to purge the demons. No such luck.

To make matters worse, some of the traditional technical advice is inherently damaging to the quality of a story. This comes to light if you take the sledgehammer of traditional editing to a few paragraphs of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I tried this misadventure in my e-book to make the point that sometimes the viewpoint character is, at a deep level, the author. To edit the VP character’s “writing” can destroy her voice, especially in first person works.

This blog is mainly about separating opposing forces and sorting things out logically so we can write meaningful page-turners.

I also have an interest in intelligent design which shows up mainly in my blog-novel Hapa Girl DNA, “written” by a nineteen-year-old Hapa Girl, Johanna, a geneticist who meets ancient history knees-to-hull while trying to drown herself in Oregon.

Her story starts here.

In my view, fiction’s many evolving “rules” or guidelines are nice to know because breaking them is more fun with a mischievous glint in your eye.

So you could download my e-book, Writing Meaningful Page-turners. One person has said wonderful things about it, but that was one out of 263, so statistical significance isn’t grabbing me by the throat here.

On the opposite extreme, I can’t say enough good about The Story Grid, by Shawn Coyne. I don’t know Shawn – in fact, he’s never responded to my comments on his blog or to the email I sent him once (sniff, sob), but I give his book my highest recommendation. His website also rocks maximally, as they say on Vulcan, with astute advice and inside information for both fiction and nonfiction writers.

News flash (5/24/17): A month or two ago I applied for one of 25 slots to learn The Story Grid’s developmental editing techniques from Shawn Coyne in Nashville this September. To my happy surprise, I was accepted.

So I’ll be listed on his site as a developmental editor offering his methods. It’s going to be loads of fun!

Finally, if you have a strikingly intelligent and beautiful friend, please send her/him my blog address http://www.storiform.com. You never know, it could change everything.

Thanks! I appreciate what you’re quietly doing to make the world a better place. Keep writing and don’t let up for air!

Love and cool breezes for the summer,

Talmage

272 thoughts on “About

  1. the more I learn about the craft of writing, the more I can appreciate the good stuff! at the same time, have less tolerance for junky stuff…

  2. This is a rich discussion topic. Both in “About” and in the blog responses, you cover a great deal of ground, offer good insight, and ask provocative questions for the reader to ponder. Saying these are questions you ask yourself includes the reader in your journey, a fine technique I must remember.

    I think it is difficult to come up with a writing formula/algorithm that meets all the technical rules and is creative, alive, and rings true to the reader—so maybe robots won’t beat us at everything. My approach is to write the story as my character directs me (tells me how it happened to them and how they felt being in the situation) then do sweeps on technical points, e.g., did I include all the senses in my descriptions—visual is my strength, tactile senses are my weakness. If the technical guidance doesn’t help the story I have no problems ignoring it. My character is the story expert. BTW my characters visit me in my dreams and scold, give lectures, but rarely give me a thumbs up.

    As for flowing dialog (carrying this over from our discussion on my blog site) when I listen to how people talk, I hear a lot of jargon, short choppy phrases, incomplete ideas. Since the hearer always seems to understand, I assume that the speakers share a common base of knowledge that I don’t. I try to capture that contextual flavor in my dialog without adding the confusion. In long pieces I like to clue the reader in, so they share the inside secrets the characters know. That is tricky to master and I still work on it.

    • I like your approach. I tend to be a seat-of-the-pants writer, too, though I’ve been trying to come close to using and sticking to an outline. My current project is outlined, but half way through I’ve become lonely and bored with the process. It lacks the “company” I usually feel when writing the way you describe, that is, allowing the characters to (seem to) decide things for themselves.
      You’re fortunate that your characters visit your dreams, even if they’re not often happy with everything. I don’t think my characters have ever visited me in anything more than constant daydreams, though I have experienced the sensation that they are almost real people, at least in the way that they matter to me. Actually, this may be what some writers (such as Rowling) call “sentimentalism,” saying they hate it. (She said that in the context of killing off a character.) If I’m right, I’d have to agree. I’ve found it impossible to put some of my characters through the sorts of pain and suffering that most successful stories employ. I think that’s a big mistake I may need to overcome if I’m ever going to sell a novel on Amazon. Which I will, but it sure would be nice if I could love the process (as I do when writing slowly with no outline) and still produce something worth reading.
      I agree there’s probably no simple formula that works for creating a great story. On the other hand, I think the complex New York publishing level of advice from editor Shawn Coyne is exceptionally valuable to anyone trying to make a living as a writer, especially a fiction writer, though his methods apply to narrative nonfiction as well.
      I like what you’re saying about dialogue. Although I’m writing sf now where they say the dialogue tends to be longer and less natural, I still try to keep it short, as if less were more. Some sf “How to” books advise against this, taking pride in the genre’s freedom to write longer stretches of info-heavy dialogue.

      To me, dialogue comes alive when it involves characters with a sarcastic attitude who want something more than they’re saying.

      Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to your comment. I’ve been distracted lately, listening to hours and hours of lectures on YouTube, searching for all the answers to the big questions and finding a complex web of conflicting opinions on everything from medicine and nutrition to archaeology and spiritual stuff. I’m starting to think that humans were not created to figure big-picture things out. Maybe we’re here for something else, like surfing and trying to be decent to each other… mainly while surfing.

  3. As some other commenter so nicely put it, you About Page, surely feels like a net. All I wanted to do was peep in and continue on my web browsing journey. Now I guess that WAS the plan. A new plan has surface which surely includes reading a few chapters wishing half-halfheartedly that you don’t pull me to very last page just like you pulled me from the first line to the last of this page. In fact your crafty charm started acting on me all the way from your comment on Valministries website.

    • Frank, thanks for these encouraging words, really. I’m kind of in a state of temporary limbo, pondering my future course and wondering where God would prefer to lead me. I love writing fiction but I’m spiritual and have things to say in that realm, though I don’t have anything “all figured out” yet. Sometimes I think I should write nonfiction about intelligent design and genetics.
      Wish I were young again. I’d go to Cyprus University. The place looks wonderful on your website.

  4. :)

    Were I a fish, I would consider myself caught by the bait on your “About” page… In fact, I feel like I’ve not only swallowed something intriguing…but I’m licking the silver hook as well. I only wanted to take a spin in this lake…now I’ve caught the scent of adventure. (heavy sigh…)

  5. Anonymous

    Thank you for stopping by my page as well. I, too, have encountered much advice about writing (I write strictly non-fiction) and have also found it counterproductive to creativity. It is why I never read any of that stuff and just go with my own flow like you’re doing. In the end, I did my own writing, published my own book, and didn’t give a hoot about the conventions of standardized publishing. Congratulations on doing your writing YOUR way. It is the only the way to do it.

    • Thanks. There’s always the conflict between playing it safe by emulating something successful and taking a chance by doing things your own way. I tend to read and learn as much as I can from successful writers, but when it comes to writing, I tend to ignore much of what I’ve learned – just for the fun of experimenting. My last effort in this regard was the first draft of “Hapa Girl DNA” which I wrote in a way that inspired me to write, but (I’m pretty sure) bored my readers most of the time. Now the novel needs heavy revision. Slow going, but loads of fun. 🙂

      By the way, I can’t click on your “picture” to find your blog. What’s your blog address again? 🙂

  6. Thanks for following DREADNOUGHT. I hope you read through ENTRANCE EXAMINATION as well. I welcome comments on my chapters, perhaps I can improve my writing as a result. I did some reading of your work HAPA GIRL DNA and it just wasn’t to my taste. The premise is good and it started my mind working on my own story along those lines, to be done much later if ever, but your pace is too slow for me. All the exposition about the physics of the issue was not to my taste although, I will admit that my taste is not universal. I am happy that you do have so many that like your work.

    • Thank you. Yeah, I need to go back and rewrite this story without so much nonfiction stuff. Boring. Also, I’ve been told the present tense makes it unreadable for most people.
      The first chapter of your story, “Entrance Examination” came alive for me when the conflict started between the Chief Sergeant and Elder. I like the way the Sergeant was yelling angrily about being called, Sir. Then turned around and said to Elder, I’ll call you Sir, if you graduate. Great dynamics there. Your military experience brings a solid sense of reality to your writing.

      There’s a short story of mine you might take a look at, since you like fast plot action. “The King Weighs 300 Pounds, OK?” (You have to click the orange button on the right, give me an email address and download it. Other than that, it’s a good short story. About 6,000 words.) Wait a minute. It’s full of cuss words, so you might not like it since you’re an Episcopalian. Hey, I was an Episcopalian, too. Raised in it for my early years. I still have a warm feeling for that church.

      By the way, thank you from the bottom of my heart for serving my country in the armed forces, risking your life and making freedom possible. Totally awesome!

      • About the cuss words, you forget that I spent 20 years on active duty. Episcopalian or not, I cussed especially at certain aircraft and certain types of my equipment (one system I still refer to as “That God Damn APS-107 and I last worked it in 1974). I still do not like being called sir when I enter a base. I know the gate guards are being polite when they don’t know my rank but I earned the five stripes I have and I am proud of what I earned.

        • OK, my mistake. After 20 years of active duty, the cussing in Johanna’s story won’t phase you one bit. The writing might be a little choppy, though. I need to be less self-conscious. I whittle down my sentences until they’re too sparse. It’s an attempt at tight prose taken too far: “The King Weighs 340 Pounds, OK?” Click the orange button and no need to worry about spam. I have 283 email addresses collected over the last two years, and I haven’t written one email to them yet. When I do, at least half of them will unsubscribe, not remembering my free ebook they downloaded so long ago: “Writing Meaningful Page-Turners.” Ironic that the story I’m posting now is boring, at least in the early chapters, but I’ll fix that on the final draft. I’ll remember not to call you, Sir, but I’m not going to be able to hide my respect. 🙂

  7. HI there I am sending a ” strikingly intelligent and beautiful friend” who is me 🙂 i am my best friend 🙂 you mentioned this in i think it was your last paragraph. I got you off of anshgupta1234 blog. I thought you sounded interesting and wanted to look more into your blog and about page so here i am. I do write fiction but at this point I am mostly a non-fiction writer… take a look see if you would like. 🙂 blessings happy writing and blogging.

    • You’re right, you are strikingly intelligent and beautiful. Love your website!

      I would be interested to know some of the reasons and circumstances behind your decision to write mostly nonfiction. I find nonfiction a zillion times easier to write, and quite satisfying, but I just love the company of fictional characters. There’s something magical about the way they seem to have minds of their own. It reminds me of the dreams of light sleep, where I’m nodding off and I hear dream people in my head saying things that sound so unlike anything I could come up with. It sometimes wakes me up, and I try to make a lasting mental note of the way they’ve put two unlikely words together, and what exactly those words mean in context.

      Hey, how about that anshgupta1234! He says he’s “a kid” but he writes fiction like a natural with tons of story experience. I was captivated by his first chapter. Can’t wait for the second.

      Just so my wife doesn’t think we’re flirting (you know – me asking for and receiving intelligent and beautiful readers like you) let’s keep all this quiet. (Just kidding, of course.)

      If you like sf, and find the time to read a few chapters of my “Hapa Girl DNA,” I would be interested in your thoughts. It’s way too “message” loaded for prime time, and it lacks the all-important single villain in the first chapter, among other things. I’m trying to decide whether to rewrite it into a true genre novel, or must move on to another novel that has the usual / “essential” story features.

      The video interview of Dr. Doidge on your website is fascinating. Neuroplasticity. (Anybody reading this, please go to Rosa’s site and listen. Here: https://rosaryandredsox.com/neuroplasticity-mirror-neurons/ )

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It’s inspiring to meet one of those rare individuals who knows how to be their own best friend. I’m a novice in that regard, but able to learn.

      • thank you for the compliment… actually i was just kidding in one way 🙂 i am my best friend though u can learn. maybe u gave me an idea aoubt a post. we all can use that I think even myself… writing will nuture my true nature. yes ?
        do u mind me asking how is non fiction easier than fiction i find memoir gut wrentching at times but i love it and it helps to heal the soul, body, mind … in and out … maybe if u could share how u can do that. if not that is ok.
        i do it to share my mission … heal my soul body mind … see being survior of about 20-30 strokes or so https://rosaryandredsox.com/about/ God I feel wants me to help others Live to… in a short story if you do not mind …
        thank u for the invite to read you work “Hapa Girl DNA,” i would love to.
        and anshgupta1234 is great I agree looking forward to reading more of his creative juices in story. great mind at a young age need to be nutured.
        I love Dr. Doidge when u know my past believe it or not I read his book The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science i think you will find it very interesting and find a lot of fictional character thru it maybe… maybe not only u will know 🙂 right thank you for your visit to my blog and look forward to visit and read your work Blessings to you and yours.

        • oh i meant to say thank you for asking about i believe u asked why not write fiction not just non fiction. i thought humm that is a turning point my life and need to include some fiction in my life story thank you great question :)blessings

          • I’m glad you’re going to add more fiction to your work. I think the power of story is huge in our culture. My current novel is written with my grandkids in mind. That’s partly why it’s so overly message-loaded. I want those kids to someday know what the old man thought of things. Maybe they’ll read my story. I doubt they’d read my non-fiction blogs. 🙂 Thank you for your blessings. Really, they mean a lot.
            Keep writing. Wow, do you have an important story to tell!

            • Hello Talmage sorry for the long wait. this is a short reply… i am taking a short break from the blogosphere and will be back I love what u wrote and looking forward to replying and reading your story more. 🙂 blessings hope all is well with all.

              • Good for you for taking a break from the blogosphere. I did that by turning off comments on my blog for about a year while I was writing the first part of “Hapa Girl DNA.” I hope everything’s going well for you. Hang in there. 🙂 🙂

        • Hi Donna,

          Actually, I think the term “nonfiction” is too big a generalization to fit the kind of “zillion times easier than fiction” thing I was thinking of. Memoir is certainly not easy. Neither is a peer reviewed article. I wrote a research paper a back in med school. It was quite difficult, not to mention all the work that went into doing the research. So in retrospect, I should say that the kind of nonfiction that I find easier than fiction is a blog post about subjective things that are not highly personal. Also it seems easy to write little ebooks like the one I did, “Writing Meaningful Page-Turners.” To me, the thing that’s difficult about fiction is my constant concern that I’m boring the reader to death by lack of action, lack of a real villain, lack of a “hook” in the early chapters, and general rambling too much through my characters about pet messages I’m interested in. Making things up is easy for me, but creating story structure that’s fun and satisfying to the reader is very difficult.
          I’m inspired by your incredible strength of attitude in the face of multiple strokes. Few people ever face a challenge of that magnitude, and yet here you are making it look like a bump along your road. Wow!
          I will definitely buy Dr. Doidge’s book and learn from him. It’s amazing how little of the new breakthrough science our current batch of MD’s are aware of. It’s as if the drug companies do their thinking and reading for them.
          Thank you for reading a little of “Hapa Girl DNA.” The first half is probably too boring, so skip around and don’t waste your valuable time.
          Blessings to you and yours, too. 🙂

  8. Thank You for the stop-by. Our philosophies are somewhat intertwined. I, too, believe in freedom of expression without the dogma associated with technique (which I also believe stifles the creative juices). I’m not one for reading fiction; though, your ability to write as you think makes me think I would enjoy your works (were I so inclined, and had the time and inspiration). Though, I know I won’t be reading your works, I do wish you well in your desires. Your obvious good-will is very refreshing to read (in your comment replies). You have a good heart, and mean well for all. That is, indeed, a wonderful basis for life. All the very best to you.

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Yes, we do have philosophies that are intertwined in the realm of bringing love into our lives and hopefully into the world as a whole. I notice that you’re a light worker. Kudos. My background is sort of a combination of non-fundamentalist science and fundamentalist religion, both of which I’ve been able to question objectively enough to escape some of their dogmas and paradigms.

      I know what you mean about not being one for reading fiction. I was raised on the notion that fiction is a complete waste of time. I’ve never been able to totally escape that feeling when I’m reading a story, but when I’m writing a story, it’s one of the most fulfilling experiences on Earth for me. So I write stories and hope to bring to light some of the linear ideas that have been rattling through my head for years. I’ll probably write some more non-fiction, too, but for now it’s Johanna’s story. I wish I could do her justice, she deserves a better writer than me! 🙂

      • Before becoming clairaudient, etc., I enjoyed a number of fabulous books; mainly the classics with a little Sci-fi. Since then, though, apart from the first 3 Harry Potter reads, whilst ill for a couple of years recently, I haven’t been inspired (my personal life being far more inspiring than words on paper; you understand).
        There is definitely a place for fiction; it can inspire and lift; particularly, as you say – “So I write stories and hope to bring to light some of the linear ideas that have been rattling through my head for years.”
        I’m sure this is the case, and can only encourage you to continue with, what is for you, a joy and a need. As I’ve mentioned; yours is a good heart.

  9. Hi, I love the wisdom and advice in your ABOUT ME and I couldn’t agree more. Personally I find the rules and regulations a new writer is supposed to follow absolutely fatal to creativity and genre? Don’t get me started. LOL. I have no idea how our universes crashed or mingled or just passes each other in the night but thanks for stumbling upon my humble blog and introducing yourself. I am glad you did and will follow with interest.

    • Your post about the Dada is mesmerizing. It makes me realize how little of the world I’ve seen. Next lifetime I’m going to try and travel.

      The rules of fiction writing as well as the advice (tips) we receive are a mixed bag, in part because they come from two opposing camps, the academics (professional teachers) and the successful authors (professional writers). The objectives of each camp seem wrong, one to the other. The academics: “You want to sell your soul and make money writing?” The successful authors: “You don’t care if no-one reads your work?”

      Thanks for your kind words. Glad to have found your blog. 🙂

  10. Thanks for stopping by my blog. You’ve got some interesting thoughts on writing here. I’ve never been a fan of the “rules of writing” myself. Good luck with your work!

    • Thank you. I’m starting to feel like I’ve found a “method” that works for me. I tend to suffer from perfectionism in any type of work I do (used to be a pathologist), so it’s been impossible for me to divide my writing neatly into “rough draft, second draft, etc.” Posting one chapter at a time has helped me avoid starting over, another decades-long problem of mine, but it brings me further from the much touted approach of most professionals who burn through that “crappy” first draft in a hurry. Thanks for your comment. Sorry chapter 17 was too long for a blog post – or even a book, probably. 18 will be shorter, I hope. 🙂

  11. I saw that you had followed my blog, so have come by to do the polite thing and say thank you so much, I appreciate it. And I really, truly do 🙂 And I wonder how you found me ? I love your take on going by the rules – not! You are absolutely right, it stifles and chokes creativity. When I sit down to write, it just sort of flows out of my fingertips – from deep down within somewhere. There have been many times when I have sat down to write a story not knowing what it will be about, Even in the writing of it, it unfolds of its own accord, leaving me wondering how it will end! I wonder how many others experience this.

    • I know what you mean. My natural tendency is to write that way, but with so many weird things happening (sf), I tend to get characters into a logical jam where the only way out is to rewrite the part that put them in unfixable trouble. Also, I tend to avoid conflict in my stories (as in life). Conflict seems to be one of the main things that keeps the narrative drive going (or the energy flowing from book to reader). So for years I’ve been trying to follow an outline, but “my characters” (as they say) won’t stick to an outline for even half a chapter. In my current story (Hapa Girl DNA) I’m writing in layers, one aspect at a time (dialogue first, preachy dialogue second, visual stuff third, more preachy crap fourth, etc.) one chapter at a time, trying not to word edit so much until late in the process. Also, I’ve got a few scenes in mind ahead of time as the result of influences like Shawn Coyne and Blake Snyder. I’m always open to new ways of doing things. My efficiency is lower than suboptimal by a mile. 🙂
      I found your blog with the WordPress Reader’s keyword search function. Glad I did! 🙂 Thank you for your follow and insightful comment.

  12. Enjoyed this, and wholeheartedly agree! Teaching someone to write is great…if you’re in a tenth grade English class. But helping someone sort through their own personal idiosyncrasies and find the nuances to tap into their creativity? That’s magical, and might involve a Unicorn.

    Will be back to browse – thanks for the follow. 😉

    • I find your writing mesmerizing and beautiful in its directness, honesty and openness. When I read your words I hear your voice speaking. It’s magical to me. Thank you for sharing your personal life with the rest of us. And your strong faith, too. I love the strength it gives you.

        • Yes, your faith sounds very strong to me. Some people assume that my faith in God isn’t strong because I’m not a fundamentalist. I don’t believe exactly the same things that they do. But our faith is in God, not in traditions, books or gurus. Yes, your faith seems really strong to me! 🙂

          Oh, I forgot to mention, you should try to learn to warm up your fingers with a biofeedback technique such as the one my character, Vedanshi, describes in chapter 14 of my story, “Hapa Girl DNA.” Warming your fingers with your mind dilates your peripheral capillaries and helps get rid of migraine headaches. It takes practice and patience to learn, but for me, if I catch a headache early, take an Advil and an Excedrin and warm my finger, I can get rid of most of my headaches. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, avoiding fresh fruit and too much chocolate turned out to be a key preventive measure for me, personally.

          • Thanks for the tips and your feelings from reading my writing. Personal facial expression looks scared. That’s the feedback I receive from others. Is that one of the characteristic of autistic people?

            • I’m not an expert on autism, but I do know that the science behind psychology is still in its infancy and can’t be trusted completely. Someone recently did a paper trying to reproduce a large number of peer-reviewed psychology papers and found that a surprisingly small percentage of the papers could be reproduced. I think it was about 50%. That tells you that the field is struggling with experimental design or has a boatload of data manipulators. Either way, don’t put all your trust in psychology or psychiatry.

              I’m sure I appeared afraid much of the time I was practicing pathology. That’s because I was afraid. I’m a creative person who made the huge mistake of going into a stressful career where people’s lives were in my hands on a regular basis. Some people can handle that situation just fine, but most of us find life-and-death responsibility fairly frightening.

              It doesn’t mean much if psychologists give you the label of “autism.” In ten years they’ll change the whole definition, most likely. You are living a successful, full life. You have love in your heart for other people and a creative mind. That means you will do a ton of good in the world, no matter what. But you will never be perfect because nobody is. Everybody has issues that make them doubt themselves.

              Focus on the happiest times in your life and the most self-confident moments you’ve lived, sit calmly in a quiet private place for a half hour, slow your breathing and try to bring back that sense of joy by remembering it and re-living it for a whole half hour. If you do this regularly, it will help you build the myelin pathways of joy and confidence in your central nervous system. Like an athlete or a musician, you will develop a specific skill – the skill of bringing joy and confidence into your life.

              Think of joy and self-confidence as moral issues that God enjoys seeing in you. Never buy the lie that God wants you to feel less than confident or less than joyful. All the focus on feeling sorry for your “sins” is a huge mistake for people like you. Sure, there are people who need the message of humility (like the ancient Pharisees who thanked God they were better than the tax collectors), but you are not one of them. You are a naturally good person with plenty of reason to enjoy the process of living. It hurts my heart to hear you worrying about autism when you are actually such a wonderfully normal person with so much to give the world.

              I hope my suggestions help you. Joy, confidence and love can be your medicine. A diagnosis of “high functioning autism” is not a highly scientific thing in 2016. Don’t make it your emotional focus. Find work that doesn’t frighten you. You’ll be successful in the most meaningful ways.

              • Wow. Thanks a lot for your tips and I feel so thankful for being treated as normal human being. I’ll try your suggestions with God’s Words. That’s the reason I choose to quit not to stress my close friend and to request to transfer me to the media department.

    • Thank you. I see that you also found another blog site I started a long time ago and almost forgot about. I’ve got several of those, but I thought I’d taken all the posts off of them.

      Your blog is beautiful, by the way.

  13. Thanks for the follow. You have a most intriguing experiment going on here. I did a lot of reading of “how to write” various types of genres and the like and it was fun for a few days to do those exercises, until I finished reading the book and then I move on. Then I got bored of reading them so I read fiction and got caught up reading so much I didn’t write for a long time until one day I just snapped and wrote like there was no tomorrow. I finished it but then I have to do the arduous task of refining it. UGH, but as one of my readings had recommended, I started a blog (last year) so I can build a community, etc. We all sound the same. Well, I got so caught up in blogging, I still haven’t refined this so-called book, let’s call it an e-book since I’m leaning toward that direction. I had thought of shopping it around to specific agents but I just have so much time (and energy) so I’ve decided to just write in my blog and continue pondering what to do with my completed work. I have a full-time job so that makes it even more challenging. I’ve decided to relax and just write and see what happens. Perhaps the world will end before I get to refining my work . . .

    • It’s fantastic that you’ve finished the first draft. When I look at my “Hapa Girl DNA” it seems the end of the “first draft” is over the time horizon of reality. My dad used to say, “The world pays off on the finished product.” You’ve already finished the difficult part of your book. You could maybe hire an editor to polish it off. Then sell it on Amazon or give it away in exchange for email addresses like many how-to books say we should do these days. It’s nice that you did a lot of fiction reading. I think that’s the best preparation for writing fiction. Thanks for the encouragement about my experiment here. I like the humor you write on your blog. They say that humor is the most difficult thing to write. I believe it. You make it look easy.

  14. Thank you for reading my blog. I have written a serial killer novel and would be glad if you would give my first chapter a read and let me know what you think. I will blog it today if you wish. Let me know. Thanks Barry

    • I’d be honored to read your first chapter and give you some feedback. I’ve got a lot to learn as a writer, but I guess it’s a lifelong process for all of us. I tend to give positive feedback to writers because I’ve been discouraged by negative feedback at times. Just so you know my bias.
      Thanks, Talmage

        • Here’s the bottom line: From start to finish I wanted to know what would happen next. I felt pulled along by the drama. This means that you have the rare gift of being able to create a story with positive energy flow, i.e. energy flowing from the book to the reader so that it takes less energy to finish the story than to stop reading. This is the gift that I wish I had a lot more of. Tons more. Another excellent gift is that you have the natural ability to write first drafts without concern for all the millions of things a copy editor should deal with (rather than the creator of the story and characters). I’d pay money for the ability to do that. (Instead, I’m so intensely fixated on the words as I write first draft material that my stories lose punch and my creation velocity slows to a crawl.) So you’re a born storyteller, in my humble and yet infallible opinion. You’ve got the gifts that matter.

          Here are a few minor suggestions: Use contractions in your dialogue unless there’s a big reason not to. Contractions sound natural. Avoid the word “for” when it means “because.” “Because” sounds natural, as in: “I stayed up late because I drank too much coffee” rather than “I stayed up late for I drank too much coffee.” I noticed that you changed viewpoints freely. I think it worked in this chapter. Some writers will put some sort of break between passages that switch viewpoints. According to the ever-evolving “dogma” of fiction writing, there should be no more than one viewpoint character per scene, but since a “scene” can’t be defined in many cases, it can become a futile exercise to fixate on viewpoint to the neglect of storytelling. Writers often go down this fruitless path of wasting too many of their neurons on viewpoint issues. Readers don’t care as much as writers do about viewpoint. I wrote a chapter on viewpoint in my free pdf ebook “Writing Meaningful Page-Turners,” but I wouldn’t spend a lot of time worrying about it. I notice you avoid overuse of adjectives and adverbs. This is excellent. Many gifted writers can’t break the habit of slowing everything down with adjectives and adverbs. These words are like cushions between nouns and verbs, taking away the impact of the story movers.

          Keep creating this first draft, then find a copy editor to worry about the wordsmithing aspects. A copy editor is analogous to the gifted people who run recording studios. Their work is indispensable to the musicians who need them, rely upon them and love them so dearly.

          I really admire the way you ended the chapter with the accidental shooting. This creates the kind of guilt and human fallibility that drives interesting characters and their plots. Coupling that with the fact that the hero blew the serial killer’s brains all over the ceiling in the first chapter is ingenious because it mixes two opposite emotions and makes us feel empathy for the hero. Creating empathy in the first chapter is the key to success in both reaching readers and in saving the human species from extinction (long story – see the second chapter of my free ebook “Writing Meaningful Page-Turners.”).

          All my best,

          Talmage

          • good points. I wish I had the time to correct the mistakes but I work and have little time. I am willing to share the profits of the book to someone who wishes to edit it. Are you interested? I am blogging second chapter. Give it a read and let me know.

            • Thank you for the generous offer, but I’m too busy these days to do editing and I’m not a professional editor anyway. Every writer deserves a pro editor with years of experience. I need to focus now on writing my own novel. I haven’t written a word yet today. Take care and keep writing stories. You have the right stuff.

  15. The best advice on writing I ever received was back in 1993, when I was fortunate enough to meet an American gentleman by the name of William Hauge, who was giving a lecture in London on how to write screenplays. His advice was “Don’t get it write, get it written”, something that’s served me very well ever since, because as long as I’ve got something down on the page, I can always go over it and improve it afterwards. I hope this helps.

    • Thanks for this on-target advice. My perfectionism as a pathologist works against me as a fiction writer. Writing “first draft” material chapter by chapter online as I’m doing now also tends to awaken the sort of fear that leads to perfectionism, slowness, wordsmithing obsessions, etc. Also, my tendency to want to deliver information rather than a story is a problem because it makes things boring for most readers. But to me, nonfiction is stranger than science fiction these days, so I’m trying to bring the two together and in the process bring science and spirituality together. Thank you, William, for your sage advice and help.

      • I can’t believe that I wrote and posted “Don’t get it write” when I clearly meant “Don’t get it RIGHT, get it written” but I suppose it was in the spirit of the post, so the Universe is having a laugh at me.

        Otherwise, my name’s Dennis and there was something else that William Hauge impressed on us all in that long-ago lecture. He was speaking of screenplays, but the same principle could just as well apply to work of fiction such as novels – he said that the object of the exercise was to elicit emotion, not to convey information, and I’m certain he was right.

        I write a lot of non-fiction myself because I agree that there are so many fascinating things to write about, whether they concern astronomy, archaeology or a whole range of other topics. I understand your fascination with these things, but in my experience and judgement, any information you supply must always serve the story for dramatic purposes. It can certainly be done, as shown by Arthur C Clarke, Thomas Harris, Frederick Forsythe and doubtless many others.

        • Thanks for that gem of wisdom. Sorry I called you William, Dennis. I was reading your “About” page and somehow got you and William Blake confused. Much of the info I’ve crammed into this story is tangential to the plot. Johanna is always trying to figure life out, and I too often take that as permission to stop the story and track her thinking. I plan to delete a ton of that on the final draft, then offer any curious readers the original draft with all the baggage on the website I’ve been working on for ages. I took your “Don’t get it wright, get it written” as deliberate – to drive the point home. It sort of reminded me of a T-shirt that said, “Dyslectics Untie!” After a few more years of struggling to write fiction, I may write a nonfiction book, possibly on scientific fundamentalism’s rape of human spirituality and the resulting depression of our young people. There ought to be five people interested in that.

          • I’m not remotely offended, I assure you, because being confused with William Blake is the greatest compliment I could ask for! Otherwise, I understand your problem very well, because it’s something that I struggled with in the past, but I learned very quickly that it’s fine to put information into a story as long as it assists when you want to elicit emotion.

            One heavy-duty example of this is the novel The Name of the Rose; if you’ve not read it, I recommend you do so, because it contains an absolute mountain of information, yet the writer effortlessly succeeds in making it all pertinent to the task at hand and eliciting emotion. I can think of others, such as the Da Vinci Code, perhaps, that do a similar thing, but The Name of the Rose is the best example I can think of and I hope it helps you.

            Otherwise, you’ll see I’m the author of two non-fiction books which I found very easy to write, simply because there were no blurred lines between facts and fantasy. As for *your* plans to write a non-fiction book, I’ve been making copious notes along these same lines for a long time and if you’ve not already read it, I suggest you read the interview with Alan Moore to which I’ve provided a link on the appropriate post on my site, because he speaks briefly but very eloquently of these very matters.

            Depression among our young people is a plague of our times, so I strongly suspect that any book that addresses why this is and how it can be credibly countered or reversed would interest significantly more people than the handful you describe.

  16. Thank you for “liking” one of my blog posts, it has lead me here to YOUR blog and YOUR introduction. I agree with what you are saying. Have you ever read “The Artists Way”? You would probably like Julia Cameron, I think. She talks of writing and not worrying about quality also. The creator (says she) will give you the quality, YOU (the writer) must take care of the QUANTITY. The mechanics come AFTER the stuff is written–that is what the workshops are for–but not the actual creative work–that is what YOU are doing! Good luck on your writing, I will read some soon.

    • Thanks for suggesting “The Artists Way.” I haven’t read it yet, but it sounds like something I’d enjoy. I wish I were better at separating the mechanics from the creative process, but I’m working on it all the time, knowing how it slows my progress to obsess over words during early drafts. Thanks for your interesting comment. Hope you like Johanna’s in-progress story, “Hapa Gril DNA.”

  17. Bob Huber

    thank you for writing this. You have a new life. You made a choice for your life, your family.
    So did I, Bob, headlightportland.me

    Thanks

    • I’m glad you made the right decision for your life, too. I burned out on pathology, but I guess there’s a decision in that at some level.

      Here are some of your words that deeply inspire me:

      “the person I see as an Enemy becomes a Friend because I have let go of my anger towards them.”

      Thank you for writing that!

    • I’m not sure if this answers your question, but… In the 90’s I was in a bookstore and bought a book on writing fiction called, “Living the Dream.” That inspired me to write a novel, but as I got into the process, it seemed like hard work. Then I met this amazing character, Johanna. I’ve got a blog post about that meeting called, “How Johanna Turned me into a Writer.” I wrote a novel about her in the 90’s. Since then, I’ve kept starting over, writing several chapters and then starting over again. The current version of this process is, “Hapa Girl DNA.” It’s entirely different from the first version. Johanna has changed a lot and gotten younger as I’ve grown older. Does that answer your question at all? If you’re asking where my ideas come from, I can tell you about that, too.

  18. Hi. My other blog seems to have gotten lost. Anyhow, you’ve been to my blog before. I remember your name. Thank you for enjoying my Way Back in Time blog. And please come back more often.

        • Thank you so much! In truth, Johanna is much smarter, stronger and wiser that I am. And more opinionated, too. Plus she’s a young girl and I’m, well a guy who’s aging gracefully, let’s say, but you’re right, I don’t pay much attention to Johanna’s age or gender in the narrative and dialogue. That’s one of the many writing “rules” I’m deliberately breaking. I may have to change that on the next draft. As far as autobiographical content – there’s almost none of that going on. I wish, for instance, I’d had her problem of getting the top, outlier scores on tests. Med school and residency were plenty difficult for me.

    • The costume party is captivating. I jumped in at the point where Noah had been ditched by his date. Excellent starting point because I instantly wanted to know more about him. He embarrassed himself by being a decent dancer. Nice idea! I may have done that to myself once. Now I want to know if he’s able to rescue the girl caught in boring conversation with the older guy. 🙂 Keep going! 🙂

      • I am so happy to hear that you are enjoying it so far! I hope you will enjoy where this story leads and what it has in store for the characters. Your readership is very important to me, and I hope that I can honour it to your expectations.

    • Thanks for the invitation. 🙂 By the way, when I click on your picture it says that your blog is no longer available. I see that phenomenon once a week or so, it’s not uncommon, but I don’t know what causes it or what it means, other than I can’t find your blog address without googling it. Good luck to you with your writing!

  19. Thank you for the follow. I’m continually surprised how much each follow brings lasting happy moments. Especially early on, it’s nice to see someone actually likes what i’m doing enough to want to see more. I like the direction your going here, sprinkled with hard fiction elements of possibility and deeper meanings. I like that. Keep at it and get it all out there.

    So, thank you for following and i hope to continue entertaining. Feel free to leave a comment on what you did or even didn’t enjoy. I’ll be back to my planned story production soon once my own job stressors subside for the year. Take care.

  20. Pingback: WRITING POPULAR FICTION. | Live Love Laugh

  21. Pingback: Deep POV Pt. 6: Editing for Emotion | Archer's Aim

  22. Hi, thanks for your follow of Heart of Life Alchemy, I appreciate it. I also really appreciate your writing and work on behalf of the creative spirit. I understand from your words above that you are trying to get your work done and I respect that, so no need to respond to this comment. : )

  23. “may have figured out a few things?” I should say so! You are an astounding integration of right brain and left brain. Once started I couldn’t set “Bouyancy ” aside. Thank you. I am honored to have you visiting Spirituality Without Borders.

  24. Hello, and thanks for deciding to follow my goofy little blog! I’ve read a little of yours and, wow. I’m hooked. I’ll be following for more and wish you all the best with your book.

  25. Thank you so much for following my blog!!
    I found your posts on writing quite fascinating and eye opening! I am an avid reader but (sadly) never paid much attention to what goes into writing them. At least, not consciously. But now, it makes me appreciate them all the more. Thank you!

  26. Thanks for liking my blog post on cruises. Good luck with your writing. Brave decision to leave a medical practice to become a fiction writer! I’m curious how you get so many comments. What are your tricks for advertising your blog? Thanks again.

    • I didn’t “decide” to leave medical practice. It was forced upon me by a combination of stressors from work and home. There was only so much I could take. I didn’t quit pathology to become a fiction writer. I’ve been trying to write fiction since the 90’s and it’s the thing I love most. Since I’m jobless, I thought I’d indulge in my favorite thing, writing. Nobody thinks I’ll make any money doing it, but I hold out hope.

      I’ve turned off my comments because I’m so slow at answering them – it was taking up all my writing time. I tried to turn off comments on the “about” page, too, but they can’t be turned off, it seems. I don’t know why I get so many comments. Your guess is as good as mine. I blogged for over a year before I got my first comment. And it was a long time before I got the second one. I don’t advertise. I haven’t had time for facebook, twitter or the other social media outlets. I am trying to collect email addresses, but so far I’ve only got 16 of them. I’m not going to waste their time, but whenever I get a new book done, I’ll send them a notice or possibly a free ebook version of it.

      Thanks for your comment.

      • Thanks for clarifying for me. We’re a little similar. I left my day job last spring due to stress and feeling unvalued and unfulfilled. Started my own landscaping company, which is still struggling. I’m now taking classes in health science. I write for enjoyment, but I’m not prolific enough to make a living at it. But we’re both moving forward…that’s what counts. Best of luck to you and your book!

        • Good for you for leaving the jet stream of stress, and saying “no” to whatever force it is that’s making some jobs so negative. I hope your landscaping company does well and your classes in health science are interesting and useful. Keep writing. Some people bind their blog posts together, edit them a little, and publish them as a book on Kindle/Amazon. If I remember right, “Choose Yourself,” by James Altucher was one such book that is doing extremely well in sales. It’s an interesting read.

          Hang in there! 🙂

  27. Dr. Moorehead,
    I can appreciate the stress of being in the medical field. Way back when, I was a medical transcriptionist! I prefer the creative life as well. I think you and your blog just might be where I can find inspiration and pleasure. And thanks for signing up with me, too!

  28. Thanks for taking a look at my blog. I have found a blog to be a full time job too and have just made it a place for me to share some ideas with others that are interested, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to make time for it in my life. Your writing looks wonderful. Good luck and happiness with it all.

    Carolynne

    • Thank you so much. Your comment means everything to me right now. 🙂

      It’s really sad what your brother-in-law did / is. I know what it’s like to struggle with the whole concept of “forgive and forget” because I’ve been abused all my life by a sibling. I’m still struggling with it, but I have a hunch that the key lies in two things. Well, three. First I need to realize that forgiving is going to affect me, not the one that I’m trying to forgive. The reason I think this is the case, is that I tend to ruminate with negative energy (hatred, anger, disgust, remorse, etc.) over past abuses. This harshes my buzz. 😉 Makes me have deeper scowl lines that reflect useless internal discomfort. Second, forgiveness in the pure sense doesn’t involve denial or forgetting. They’re two separate issues. Well, three. A sociopath needs medicine from the future. Nothing we have today can cure the illness, not even forgiveness. A dangerous sociopath can only rarely change, and it probably takes a lot of effort on their part, which is unlikely to happen. (Same deal with pedophiles, I would think.) Third, to forgive, it helps to work on feeling empathy for the individual. To do that, it might help to write a story (maybe just in your head) with that person as the viewpoint character. You don’t need to sugar coat anything. The character realizes he/she is “tone deaf” when it comes to empathy, for instance (in the case of a sociopath). Or the character realizes or tries to deny that he has unspeakably disgusting and evil lust for children (in the case of the pedophile you discuss in your blog). If you write this story using whatever you know about the person, it will help you find empathy and forgiveness (after you throw up breakfast and lunch). The forgiveness may help you, but probably not him. And that’s fine. You won’t treat him as if he’s had a magical brain transplant or you’ve found a greater capacity for denial. Forgetting, denial, pretending someone has changed who hasn’t – these are not parts of forgiveness in my book.

      Jeez, I’m sorry if none of this applies to your situation. I know one size doesn’t fit all. It’s just that I can really relate to your situation and I wish I could help. Your comment has helped me. Thank you so much.

      Hang in there,
      Talmage

      • Talmage, thank you for your deeply thoughtful words on my predicament. Every bit of it applies to my situation and is very helpful. Forgiveness is such a tricky thing. But it is important. We don’t want our buzzes harshed. (I laughed when I read that. I haven’t heard that expression in a few years.) The idea that forgiveness doesn’t involve denial or forgetting is key. I get hung up on the idea that if I forgive, I am condoning. And of course, I am not. I can see the gray in all of this, and so am intrigued with your suggestion of writing a story from the perspective of the abuser. (The first thing that came to mind was Mystic River by Dennis LeHane.) I keep getting hung up on memoir, feeling like I can’t write about (publish) something that includes this piece of my/the story. But as you suggest, I can write it as fiction and purge it from my psyche that way.

        Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. And for your terrific idea on a way to de-harsh my buzz (not to mention lessen my scowl lines).

        Ella

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