Being a Better Writer: Keeping Motivation on Longer Works

Welcome back, everyone! Being a Better Writer has returned at last! I know it’s only been two weeks since the last post, but honestly, with all that’s going on it felt like quite a bit longer.

Anyway, today we have a requested topic from the new topic list to tackle (remember that call for topics a few weeks ago?), and it’s an interesting one. It’s also a topic that I’ve tackled in part before (though that post hasn’t been reposted here, sorry!), but this time there was a new wrinkle added to the mix. Where before the question was just “Motivation while writing,” this time the question of length came into the equation.

Specifically, the reader wanted to know: how does one keep motivation up while working on a longer work?

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The Minimum Wage Goal

A lot of my life right now is goals. Most of the time that’s daily writing goals (4,000 words of fiction a day), but at the moment it’s book goals (get Unusual Events out of alpha by 1st week of August, get Colony to alpha 2 by Mid-August, get Being a Better Writer out by November), because if I kept to those aforementioned writing goals, I’d have a lot of trouble getting those book goals done.

But I’m looking to add a new goal lately. What I’m calling the “minimum wage” goal.

See, to live, I have certain financial obligations I have to meet. Rent every month. Health insurance. Utility bills. Phone bills. Internet bills. And food. Can’t forget food. While most other financial things in my life are optional, can be acquired at a library, or can be lived without, the utilities and bills always come. Plus having a roof over my head and food.

Now, the goal is to make enough money off of my writing that I can afford all of those things. Not the luxuries. The regular, monthly bills that come whether I like it or not. I can mitigate these a bit (for instance, most of my apartment is unlit or runs because electricity costs money, and those lights that we use the most are LED bulbs), but at the end of the day, there has to be an income to make up for my outcome.

So now I add a new goal. That goal is “minimum wage” (hence the name; so clever, huh?). Or, in other words, to make enough off of my writing that I’m earning roughly the equivalent of a minimum wage job each week.

It’s actually not that hard. Minimum wage isn’t much. If I sold 40 books in a week, I’d be making minimum wage. And that I could live off of. Easily.

Of course, right now I’m selling an average of about three books per week. That’s a large difference between where I am and where I could be.

Of course, that’s why I’m setting the goal. Performance measured leads to improved performance. I know where my sales are. I know where I want them to be. Now just getting there is the trick. I’ve got the product, I’ve got the quality, it’s the moving of the product I need to improve.

Of course, getting Unusual Events out is definitely going to help, I think. Alpha feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Unusual Events may be my strongest writing to date. But that release happens one way or another, and whether or not it releases, the minimum wage goal is now on my list of monthly progress charts.

The trick, I’m sure, will be in the figuring out of how to get that goal checked off.

But hey, it’s a start.

Being a Better Writer: Real Emotion

This post was originally written and posted June 21st, 2014, and has been touched up and reposted here for archival purposes.

This is a topic I’ve received numerous questions and requests about: How do you write with real emotion? How do you make a scene actually have that emotional impact? How do you keep your readers from glossing over the emotional scenes? How do you keep from getting too emotional? Variations on this question have peppered several comment threads as well as my inbox for quite some time now, and today … Well, today I’m finally going to give all those patient readers an answer.

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A Missive To Our Reading Thralls – Free Range Oyster

Dead Silver on Free Range Oyster along with several other fun looking books!

According To Hoyt

*Yeah, I’m days late posting this.  Yeah, I’m okay.  This weekend just got really weird, what with the classless behavior of the SF Aristos, at the same time we were putting a home for sale AND dealing with paperwork and last minute stuff AND figuring out some things we forgot when moving boy out AND still recovering from beyond massive auto-immune attack.  Now I’ve delivered Black Tide short, after dissuading it from becoming a novel. Betas say it’s good.  I’ll write the other two overdue shorts today, then swing to novels including Witch’s Daughter and finishing Rogue Magic.  (And also, yes, Darkship Revenge, Dragons and the Shifters’ Bowl of Red.)  This means, now and then you’ll get a filler post like this.  I have a post percolating about “signaling” and “elites” but it will wait.  Love you all.*

Happy Saturday, minions, henchmen, partners-in-villainy, and other associates of our beloved Beautiful…

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Larry Correia On the Hugo Awards

So, Larry Correia, they guy who started the Sad Puppy movement in the first place, has written up his thoughts on last weekend’s Hugo Awards. As Larry was the one who started the whole Sad Puppies movement in the first place (all alone, three years ago), its an interesting look on the conflagration that swept through the awards on Saturday. It’s also pretty accurate. Larry doesn’t mince words, he goes right to it and talks about what SP was about, and how Saturday’s fire proved him right. He makes points like this—

I said that most of the voters cared far more about the author’s identity and politics than they did the quality of the work, and in fact, the quality of the work would be completely ignored if the creator had the wrong politics. I was called a liar.

—which when coupled with this tweet from a Hugo Awards voter—


—means one thing and one thing only. Larry was right. This award has been political for a long time.

There’s a few standout points from the article I’ll quote here below, but for the full effect, go read the article yourself. It’s worth it.

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Op-Ed: Why Do We Like Something?

Hey everyone, welcome back after a most interesting weekend! Well, maybe it was an interesting weekend for you, I certainly can’t speak for all of you. Certainly it was an interesting weekend for those in Spokane, Washington, though, as they had to decide which the greater fire was: The massive, multi-acre wildfires burning up the forest? Or the conflagration downtown that was the Hugo Awards burning themselves to the ground to keep fiction ideologically pure?

Anyway, this week I’m actually forgoing the usual Being a Better Writer post for an opinion piece. Those of you who’ve been following me for a while may recall seeing these once or twice before, but for those of you who are newcomers, the Opinion-Editorial columns are just the rare occasion when I want to write an editorial observation rather than something that’s wholly concerned with the usual posts’ topic of improving one’s writing. It doesn’t mean that these posts aren’t useful, just rather that they don’t quite cover the same context as the usual weekly posts. That said, it’s my blog to write with as I please. So today I’m writing an Op-Ed.

No, it’s not about the Hugo Awards.

Instead, I want to talk about something a little more … well, some might say touchy. I know from prior experience that this topic is a sensitive one with a lot of people. Possibly because it’s the sort of topic that raises questions only we can answer, and some people don’t like their own answers. Today, I want to ask a simple, seemingly innocuous question.

Why do we like something?

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The Countdown

Tonight, the Hugo Award votes are tallied and the awards handed out. What’s the result going to be?

I hope it matters.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d like it to matter. And for a brief, flashing instant, it probably will. At least, for the reasons it should.

It should matter because the book/movie/whatever that wins the 2015 Hugo Award should be the award that fans of Sci-Fi/Fantasy voted for, and the one that the most Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans voted for. It should be the one that the largest number of fans agree on.

But for the last few years, that hasn’t mattered. For the last few years, the writing hasn’t mattered, the story hasn’t mattered, and certainly the fans haven’t mattered. That’s why this year came with reminders from a certain clique that newcoming voters to Worldcon weren’t real fans. And why if the Hugo Award actually functions as it’s supposed to, there’s going to be a brief flash of flame. Rage flame. Because the Insular hate-mongers that have been happily taking advantage of the fact that Hugo votership has been at rock bottom, at a point where just a few votes accounted for a win, are going to smear whoever wins if it isn’t them.

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Being a Better Writer: I, Villain

This post was originally written and posted June 9th, 2014, and has been touched up and reposted here for archival purposes.

Advance Warning: today’s post is going to involve copious amounts of spoilers from everything from games to movies to books. Most of them will be fairly obvious and over a year in age, but I’m giving this whole entry an advance warning anyway. Spoilers be beyond here.


I think it says something about us that while some can’t name a favorite hero, almost everyone can remember a favorite villain (or “not favorite,” as the case may be). Darth Vader. Truth. Smaug. Agent Smith.Brother Jon. The Lord Ruler. The Joker.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The point is, you can ask just about anyone who their “favorite” villain is, the one who gave them shivers as a child or as an adult, and most of them will be able to think of someone. Villains are just as much a part of a good story as anything else. They haunt our heroes’ nightmares and waking moments, stalk them from behind the scenes, threaten them and their loved ones. Or maybe they don’t even notice the hero at first, too preoccupied with their quest for power as they dominate nations. Or maybe, just maybe, they’re on the heroes’ “side,” carefully playing within the rules—but only just, all while smiling a sickly sweet grin that promises future darkness.

So today, I’m taking a request topic, and we’re going to talk about villains—good ones. We’re going to talk about how you make an antagonist that sits in your reader’s mind, that’s just as memorable as the hero is, who worries your fans every time they make an appearance. The kind that haunts your reader’s mind long after the book is gone, that sits in the back of their head like a song they can’t stop thinking about. So buckle up, because here we go. Continue reading


I am exhausted. I’ve spent the last few days touching up and editing the alpha copies of all the stories from Unusual Events, but as I was going over the last of them tonight, a thought struck me. I’ve talked a lot about what Unusual Events is, and mentioned what’s in it, but never, not yet, save to Patreon Supporters (who get their own, special, early looks), have I shown off anything.

That needs to change. It’s time to get a taste of what you’ll be reading before long!

So, with that in mind, here’s a sneak peek at a few paragraphs from SUPER MODEL, one of the stories from the upcoming Unusual Events! Enjoy!

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New Topics Needed – Being a Better Writer

Well, it’s come to this once more: My topic list for the Being a Better Writer posts has exactly one topic left on it. Which means after next Monday, barring my brain coming up with some new topics during the week, the list will be empty!

Obviously this cannot be. Being a Better Writer is one of the core pieces of my Monday schedule, and between my two blogs, still turns out more weekly readers than anything else I’ve ever posted (except for stuff on the Hugos, but most of those didn’t stick around; they were looking for firestorms, not content). That and I clearly don’t want to stop working on it. BaBW is well on its way to being a sizable writers resource for young writers and experienced writers alike. It’s got a purpose. It’s also free (though hopefully the book release will have a nice return on it, because I don’t like living in a cardboard box).

Okay, okay, you get the point. That point, anyway, which isn’t the point of the post. No, the point of the post is this:

Readers: I desire topics! What do you want me to write about? What facets of writing would you like me to explore? What concepts and ideas are you looking to see discussed?

Post away and let’s fill up this topic list!