Stupid Writer Tricks

Dictation using wax cylinder phonographYes, I’m back!

Stopped blogging for a while because it got to be a chore, something writers I’ve known in the past concluded years earlier. But now it’s probably time to start this back up. It’s an author site. I should be authoring.

So, what have I been doing?

Well, I decided I would attempt to write an entire series arc in a year. We’re almost up to a year-and-a-half, but I have eight of a planned nine under my belt. It’s involved a few stupid writer tricks.

What are those?

  • No commute – At present, I drive into my office two afternoons a week. This appears to be a permanent situation as Ohio expects to lift restrictions soon. My company’s owner is enthusiastic about going remote. Also, my wife has had some health issues that require me to add caregiver to the many hats I wear. And frankly, I like spending my early mornings reading, writing, and having time with her before I make the long trek to my office downstairs. My preference is to type rather than dictate, so getting up at 5 AM and not having to head to the office until 7:55 has let me write up to 1200 words before Mr. Slate pulls the birdie’s tail. (Ask your parents, kids. If you don’t know this reference, I weep for you.)
  • Dictation – As the pandemic settled in and I was forced to switch from Uber to Door Dash for extra income, I found I had four hours on Friday and Saturday to talk to Google Docs. By the way, Google Docs is a horrible way to dictate. Yes, dictation can net you up to 4000 words in a single evening, but you have to clean those words up. As I revise each entry in the arc, I’m finding oddball typos that can’t possibly come from my typing. Typing is usually swapping out a word because it rhymes in your head, missing a word, or plain misspelling. Dictation sometimes comes up with something entirely different from what you said. Also, I write about aliens and planets that are not on any astronomy map yet. I’ve ended up having to search and replace my phone’s lame attempts at transcribing. Dragon Naturally Speaking has mitigated this, but I have to have quiet to do this.
  •  The end of pantsing – Back when Jim Winter was my main focus, I used to say my writing process varied from story to story. Now? I plot. Relentlessly. Usually, this works. However, I have had to toss a couple of the books in this arc because a perfectly solid outline yielded an unworkable first draft. I had to completely throw out one book centered on Ellie Nardino. Fortunately, that character was ready for Thelma & Louise in space, minus the jumping off a cliff ending. I also had to scrap the final novel of the arc. How am I tackling that one? Well, I have an ending in mind, so I’m going to…
  • Writing backwards – Anyone whose read my Jim Winter work knows I occasionally like to mess with the narratives timeframe. Northcoast Shakedown begins in the middle of the novel. My first published short story flips back and forth between the titular rainy night and the events leading up to it. Another short literally tells the story backward, starting with the end and working to the beginning. This is different. The final novel of this arc has multiple points of view shifts and a large cast. Such novels can get unwieldy. But I know my ending. I know my flashbacks. And I know where I want all my characters to end up.


1 thought on “Stupid Writer Tricks”

  1. I did the same stupid writer trick of not blogging in 2020. I think many of us just didn’t have the brainspace for it – heck, I’m just now getting back to having the brainspace for writing fiction. Glad to see you back in the blogosphere, maybe I’ll get back to it someday too!

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