“You Will Be The Worst Writer”

7-11-12 Dr. French's Office 003

It’s been somewhere near a year since I started this blog. Today while browsing my spam I came across something that I think may be my first real (non-spam) comment – even though it was relegated to the spam file by some excellent software.

Here it is:

“You will be the worst writer”

The comment led back to a website selling drugs, including testosterone supplements for men.

Hmmm. Maybe there’s insight to this.

At any rate, thank you for your comment. It’s high time I got one!

You’re not alone in thinking that I’ll be a hack, perhaps even the worst hack writer, although taking the absolute bottom or top seat on a roster seems arrogant to those of us devoted to mediocrity.

But all kidding aside, I have two readers (of my fiction, that is. I have one and maybe slightly more than one reader of this blog. It’s difficult to be sure.)

Those two readers of my fiction are, not necessarily in any order:  my wife and my daughter.

Now before you start saying that they couldn’t possibly be objective, and I shouldn’t get a swelled head over their kudos, let me stop you. They don’t like my stuff. Polite? Yes, they are. Encouraging or supportive, they’re not.

My wife likes my non-fiction prose, though. That means a lot.

She finds my fiction a chore.

A few days ago I conned her into reading this blog and she chuckled encouragingly as she read.

A few weeks ago I asked her to check out the website where I’m working on my story, and she said something to this effect: “It doesn’t seem like a story anymore. I’ve never read anything written like this, so I don’t know what to compare it to.” Admittedly, it was an experimental version in which I was pretending that the protagonist was a real person who has a website and was recording her every move as it took place. And yes, my wife was a good deal less negative – even positive, as I recall – when she read the more traditional version of the story nearly a year ago.

And I should point out that she only read as much of the latest version as she could stand, which wasn’t very much unless she’s a closet speed-reader, which I doubt.

My daughter loves me dearly and would never want to hurt my feelings, so she pretends she’s forgotten to read the stuff I’ve sent her. She’s really a sweet girl. It’s too bad everyone can’t meet her and have a friend of her caliber.

So why am I bringing this up?

Partly because I think it’s humorous and I’ll do anything to get a laugh. (Just ask my daughter.) But mostly because of this…

If I can write fiction without getting discouraged and giving up, so can you!

You? You should never give up!

Never, never, never give up!

The world needs to hear what you have to say, trust me on that.

When you get discouraged, don’t give up! Don’t even let up.

Bottom line: Neither you nor I could tolerate someone like YOU giving up. You have real talent.

Me, I mostly have desire and a mind for over-analyzing things to exhaustion. But even my gifts are plenty to work with, because, like you, I’ve got something to say.


So please, get back to writing your story, already. This is enough web surfing for today. Don’t you think?

M. Talmage Moorehead

Wow, how times change. I’ve got some readers now, thank God!

My current in-progress version of Johanna’s novel (written by my protagonist from another universe) is a lot like the experimental thing she and I were doing back when I wrote this post.

If you’re interested in intelligent design, weird artifacts, genetics and psychology from the perspective of a nineteen-year-old “Hapa Girl,” it may be a fun read. The protagonist is a genius geneticist with a younger brother who struggles with depression, though you wouldn’t know it to meet him. Her evolving story starts here.

It’s an experiment called, Hapa Girl DNA, and is a hybrid itself – a tightrope crossing of fiction and non-fiction. “Hapa” is the Hawaiian term for “half.” Johanna is half Japanese and half Jewish. In writing her novel, she and I ignore some important fiction-writing rules, partly because we like to test dogmas, and partly because it’s fun to try new things.

But the “rules” are essential knowledge to anyone crazy enough to either break them or follow them mindlessly.

So you could download my e-book on fiction writing, the second to last chapter of which gives my current opinions on many of the dogmatic rules of fiction writing. Downloading that 10,000 word file will place you on my short list of people who will be politely notified when my traditional novel is done – possibly before the next ice age. (No spam or sharing of your info. I haven’t sent an email to my list yet. It’s been over a year.)

Next time you’re writing emails, if you think of it, please tell your best and hopefully weirdest friend about my blog (www.storiform.com). Thanks. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.


basketball and writing a page-turner

Squirrel Finnegan the wannabe dog pupThe process of improving my fiction writing continues to parallel the process I devised for learning to shoot a basketball.

There are an infinite number of variables in each sport. It seems that the more of those variables I control or eliminate, the faster I improve.

In learning to shoot a basketball, it was easy to eliminate the unessential movements.  Give the shot a little random head tilting and an inconsistent jump and you might as well move the hoop during the shot. So forget practicing like everybody else does.

I stood close to the hoop, didn’t change position, didn’t jump, bend my knees, or worry about what was going on in my mind. I kept my shoulders and head steady during every shot.

Then I shot a hundred times per day for quite a while. This isolated my arms, hands and fingers – the minimal number of uncontrolled variables essential to sinking a shot.

After a while I could get the ball through the hoop every time from that one spot. Then I brought a jump into the deal. Then a little more distance, and a little more.

Did it help?

Yeah, like magic. I went from pathetic to annoying. There were a few games where everything I shot went through the hoop. If I’d been decent on defense, I could have made the D league for the vertically challenged.

No brag, just fact.

With fiction writing I’m taking the same approach – eliminating variables to isolate the essentials.

The main thing I want to create is a novel that’s difficult to stop reading. You might call it a page-turner, I guess. I want it to be meaningful. It would also be nice if literary critics around the world would send flowers to my wife.

To identify the essentials, I’m studying the work of best-selling fiction authors. These people are doing something right. I want to discover what it is, so I can practice like a fiend.

Of course, I intend to continue posting all my epiphanies here.

Each highly successful popular author I’ve studied seems to have a set of talents that is slightly different from the next. Some are not so gifted with words, but have interesting ideas and characters. Some are able to write like poets and yet weave complex plots involving a large cast of characters. Others write simple plots with few characters, simple words and breathtaking dialogue. Some don’t seem to stand out in any way, except that I can’t put their books down.

The combinations of the different underlying writing talents are probably infinite.

In basketball, a person must have rare talent in almost every aspect of the game if he’s going to have a chance to play professionally.

In writing fiction, it doesn’t seem like that at all. Yes, there’s a common thread connecting best-selling authors, but it’s thin and subtle, not thick and obvious, as in basketball.

When you find what your main talent is as a writer, you’ll be able to isolate it and work on it. If you keep at it, you’ll probably be able to write a page-turner. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have a fairly decent chance of becoming a professional.

There are a few people out there with great advice on selling your novel, but if your novel isn’t difficult to put down, you could be wasting your time.

Maybe I don’t want you to do that.

Identify your strongest writing talent. Isolate it from the noise. Build its muscles. Write things that depend on that talent.

This approach will produce the sort of page-turner you’re capable of writing. It will be unique to you.

Of course, not all writers want to write page-turners. Not everybody wants to reach millions of people.

That’s understandable.

In the final analysis, all fiction writers succeed – because it’s this journey we’re on that matters, not so much the destination.

M. Talmage Moorehead