Writing, writing, writing

That lovely moment in the story when a phone rings, and you let your character answer it so that both of you can find out who’s on the other end.

Really, knowing where the story is going before you get there is overrated.1


Dear Characters,

I’m sorry, but you cannot organize yourselves into one Leader and Four Lancers.2

It just … doesn’t work that way.



Dear Group Leader,

I know, I know. You have to deal with this lot and you don’t even get the benefit of being the protagonist for your trouble.

Would it help if I gave you some angsty back story to make up for it?


1Necessary disclaimer: For my writing process.

2If a Five-Man Band has one Leader and Four Lancers, does the Leader become the actual Lancer?


Dear Characters Who Stubbornly Refuse to Become Distinct from One Another,

Each of you has, like, only a couple distinguishing characteristics. You surely know this.

But if we combine you, you’ll have a whole bunch more. Right?



— Me


Dear All Characters on Deck,

See this nice little quest I have ready for you? Waiting over in the corner there?

You … don’t seem to be in any rush to go on it.

In fact, you see determined to DIY your own quest from the materials at hand instead.

But perhaps I’m misunderstanding. Let’s keep writing, shall we?

— Me

“‘Cause you can’t jump the track / we’re like cars on a cable”

Dear Recently Promoted Secondary Character,

No, I’m sorry, but you can’t have All the Things.

Mad fighting skills: denied.

Mad healing skills: denied.

We’re going for interesting here, not unrealistic.

Seriously, most people would be content with the mad flying skills. I promise you’ll get to use them, by the end.


P.S. What? No. Promotion to protagonist denied with prejudice!

That moment you suspect the story’s just fine, after all

So a few weeks ago, I was truly hating this book I’m working on now, and wondering if I ought to just give up and work on something else. I did give up and work on something else–several something elses–and along the way got the opening of at least one future project just far enough along that I can now let it simmer in the subconscious for a while. But I’m back to my original new project this week, and today, I found myself writing this bit of dialogue:

“The universe is larger and more wondrous than we know, yadda yadda yadda.”

“You used to take this story more seriously,” I told her.

“Yeah, well, my personality is shifting,” she said. “We’re all still figuring out who we are. This is the first draft, after all. Anyway, where was I?”

And that is so utterly like what I would expect from the exploratory rough first draft of any of my books that, well, I’m beginning to think that this story–which I’m no longer hating at all–just might be exactly where it’s supposed to be at this stage of the process.

Dear Formerly Tertiary Character I Haven’t Seen in Fifty Pages or More,

I always thought you were more interesting than your minor role in the story had room for. I just didn’t know how interesting. Until now.

You’ll be getting a retroactive upgrade to Secondary Character, effective immediately.

Just don’t tell the other Tertiaries. They’re totally going to be giving up speaking lines to make room for you.

Welcome to the story,


Then again, maybe the book is just shy

Dear Book,

So there I was, just about ready to give up on you, when you offer me … that. A reason to write you, and a glimmer of what you’re really all about.

Was it the threat of being trunked that made you give in?

Or did you actually choose to wait until the most frustrating possible moment to give up the first of your secrets?

Just wondering,


P.S. Unless it’s all a lie. We’ll have words if it’s all a lie. And I don’t mean the words on your pages.

If you leave your assigned universes one more time I’m turning this car around

Dear Short Story Protagonist,

This story does not have enough space or scope for you to have a best friend.

I’m sorry! I really am. I should have seen it sooner, but, well, that’s what happens when I get distracted and don’t write short fiction for a while.

The next short story protagonist will have an easier time of it. I’m pretty sure.


P.S. No, no time for that leisurely horseback ride either. But hey! Endangered animal life is a space-efficient world-building tool, so win-win, right?

Dear Secondary Almost-Finished Novel Character,

The way you’re standing there, tapping your foot and flapping your wings impatiently as you glare at said protagonist?

Not Helping.


P.S. But hey! Endangered animal life. So it’s not like you can go over there and do anything about it.