Being a Better Writer: The Five-Man Band

Welcome back, readers, to another Monday! Which of course means another Being a Better Writer post. I do want to keep these to Monday if at all possible. Work shifts permitting.

But first, some news. I’ve picked up a few more reviews, moving my total ever closer to my year-end goal. Who says you can’t get started early? If I do the math, I’m currently sitting at, between Goodreads and Amazon, a grand total of 190 reviews and ratings. Pretty much an even split, numbers-wise, between the two.

By the end of the year, I’d like to double that. 400. That’s the goal, and I’ll be keeping a tally going, mentioning it on here from time to time.

The next milestone? 200. I’m only 10 away. Then 300, and then the goal. As for what will happen when I hit these? Well, outside of celebration, I’m not really sure yet. Probably something cool.

Aside from that, there isn’t too much news to wax on. Progress on Hunter/Hunted moves toward its conclusion. I’m somewhere in the final act, and finally getting a handle on some of the story’s more difficult concepts and elements. Since it’s a freebie fan-project and not something for sale, as usual I’ve experimented with some new things and choices. We’ll see what readers make of them, but I’ve definitely already come away with a few lessons of “that worked, that didn’t” to keep in mind for future projects.

And crud, I may as well mention that I missed a project for this year when I spoke about upcoming work in a recent post. I didn’t forget Fireteam Freelance. Or Starforge. Or the yet-unnamed-Halo-novel pitch. But I did forget a big one:

Axtara: Banking and Finance.

You might not remember this one; it was the first “short” story I wrote for the LTUE Dragons anthology, only for the story to quickly balloon out of the realm of “short” (always a stretch for me, even by the collections broad definitions) and into “Novella or Novel.” So it got set aside in favor of A Game of Stakes, which has already been submitted (so now we play the waiting game).

definitely have to devote some time to Axtara this year, as the idea is far to fun to leave untouched. A dragon going into investment banking? Yes, there’s a fun story there. It just wasn’t a short one.

Okay, and with that, enough news! Let’s talk about writing! Specifically, about the Five-Man Band.

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The Mountains

Writing a book is like climbing a mountain. A long, arduous trek, with ups and downs, flat easy bits, and hard nearly vertical portions that require all of your skills and tools. And there are moments when it feels like you’re never going to reach the top, like the book will never be done and you’re just endlessly ascending a slope for some purpose you’re not even sure of.

Now, once you get to the top? You bask in the view, take it in … and look at the next mountain in your path, because if there’s another book, there’s another mountain. A career in writing? Well, it’s kind of like making a commitment to hike each individual mountain in the Rockies.

And some of them will be great hikes, and some of them … are going to try their best to break you.

One of the hardest bits then, I think I’d add to this, is that these hikes are done, for the most part, completely solo and without much in the way of external input until the very end. Only in that final sprint to the top, when the editors and Alpha Readers begin looking over your work, do you interact with others. And then after the book comes out, when there’s a flurry of recognition that flashes by for a week or two … and then it’s gone. Just like the news stories of the first conquest of a mountain, it’s announced, but very quickly the world moves on, and it’s on to the next mountain for that author.

So, why am I talking about this? Well, a number of reasons. I’m in the last third of another mountain right now, and so far it’s been a far more arduous experience than was planned. Longer, too. I’m working to get it done, but the snow is deep and thick (this is actually a more accurate analogy than you might think) and it’s made things a bit of a slog most days.

I’m not stopping, mind. I’m going to finish this mountain and start the next. That’s how the job goes. But it can be (and right now, is) a slog.

Which makes the number of people who’ve gathered around just to tell me to give up, call it quits, or lambaste me about how it really isn’t all that hard all the more grating.

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Being a Better Writer: Creating a Paragraph

Welcome back readers! And welcome to the year 2019! Which, as we all know, is either infested with replicants or about to become the battleground once again between that blue robot known as Megaman and his nemisis, Dr. Wily.

Huh, now that I think about it, a lot of fictional movies, games, and books with robots took place in the “20XX” date arrangement. Granted, Megaman at least has some leeway with a few of their titles because “20XX” is nebulous enough to be “2047” but Blade Runner on the other hand …

Then again, mad replicants could explain a lot of our politics and news commentators.

But enough about politics, it’s 2019, and my holiday break is over. Which means that it’s time to once again resume posting Being a Better Writer! A day late, but let’s face it, thanks to my constantly chaotic shift schedule, BaBW is practically a Monday-or-occasional-Tuesday feature rather than straight Monday anymore. But that aside, what’s today’s topic?

Paragraphs.

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Review Blurbs

So, random thought for today, but have you ever considered how differently review-blurbs are treated for books than they are for any other medium?

You might never have thought of this one, but let me give you an example. I just finished yesterday Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan, which is a great book. I enjoyed it quite a bit and lost some sleep to finishing it. But there was something I couldn’t help but notice. Displayed on the cover is a blurb from Brandon Sanderson that says “Just plain awesome.” in large, bold letters. Brandon’s name is also large and bold. But under that, in much, much smaller print?

“On Promise of Blood.” Which is the first book this author wrote, which came out in 2013.

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Forward

Welcome to 2019. Be on the lookout for Replicants.

2018 is behind us. And what a year. It had a lot of highs, and it had some rough lows too. And I’m not just talking about the year globally. I’m just talking about books and stuff.

But enough about that. Let’s talk about the future. So, what’s coming ahead in 2019?


Well, first up, and early in the year, the release of Hunter/Hunted. It’s in the final act now, though just barely (I haven’t done much writing over the last week; I needed to recharge). I figure this one will be done with the draft this month, as long as my other job doesn’t consume too much time, and then it can go into Alpha/Beta and release. Rejoice, Dusk Guard fans, for the third book is almost here. Oh, and remember how I said it would probably be the shortest? I have no idea anymore. And … well, I’ll leave it at that.

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