Being a Better Writer: The Expectation of Instant Success

I’ll lead with a fun fact: This post was originally going to be an OP-ED last week, until I was barely into writing it and already switching into “and here’s how this comes up in writing,” at which point I realized that this was becoming a Being a Better Writer post despite what I had originally presumed about it. So it shifted over to the Topic List, and today … Well, you can clear see.

All right, so we’re diving in without a preamble: What on Earth—or whatever world you happen to be reading this on—is this all about? Most of you reading the title are probably going to guess that it’s going to be addressing the creator, and be about “tempering expectations.” And it’s not. We’ll address that briefly, but instead this post is going to be coming from a slightly different direction: that of the public.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. Let’s start at the beginning. Or rather, what the public often sees as the beginning: The publishing of the first book.

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Being a Better Writer Topic Call Ongoing!

Surprise!

Yeah, I’m taking this Monday off. From Being a Better Writer. For three reasons.

One, it’s been a while, and a break sounds kind of nice. I churn these out almost every Monday without fail, year round save the occasional holiday, so yeah, a break actually sounds kind of nice. If you’re still itching to read something BaBW today, I’d say hit that search bar on the side and find one of the hundreds already up!

Or, you can participate in the second reason there’s a break today and suggest a topic in the comments! See, I keep an actual physical list sitting on my desk, checking topics off one by one, and right now, Topic List #15 is done for and #16 is being populated. Not just with topics I’ve come up with, but with suggestions from you!

So you can hit up the comments and leave suggestions about a topic or topics that you’d like to read about! Let’s populate the list!

Third reason? Because that leaves me more time to work on the Copy-Edit for Axtara – Banking and Finance, which I would like to get a lot done on today. The sooner it’s done, the closer it is to being published, so … I’ve got a lot of reading to do today!

All right, that’s it! So, one, taking a break. Two, your topic suggestions for Being a Better Writer are requested! And third, Copy-Edits on Axtara!

Hmm, I suppose there’s a fourth here. If you’re a Patreon Supporter, there will be a supporter update today. If you’ve been following the last few, you can probably guess what it is! Head on over to Patreon to check it out!

Now fill the comments with topics!

Delaying My Fireteam Freelance Thoughts + Other Updates

Just a quick update, but I’ve pushed my post on Fireteam Freelance back a few days. It’ll come out next week. Why?

So that there’s more time for readers to post their thoughts to the reader feedback post. A day (less, really) isn’t enough time for most people to respond, and most people react when they hear that a newer, larger post is coming by just ignoring it.

Which isn’t great for a feedback post. I’m still going to write my look back on it today, but it won’t go up for a bit yet.

Meanwhile, the Alpha 2 Reader Call is still open. Axtara could use a few more eyes to give it a quick read. 120,000 words, so a few days worth of decent reading. Nothing big. Head on over to the Alpha 2 call page and comment if you’d be interested. It’d be fast and quick, something you could blitz through on a weekend.

Patreon Supporters, meanwhile, have a first-chapter preview over on Patreon. It won’t be the last either! So if you’re a supporter wondering what the hubbub is about, head on over and get your first look!

Tomorrow I’ll once again start trawling for a cover artist. Plus start looking at timetables for Beta 1 …

Starforge‘s first draft is sitting at 56,470 words. This one’s going to easily be just as titanic as Colony and Jungle, but there’s a lot going on in these chapters.

Anyway, I’m going to get to work now. Hit the links, have a good weekend!

Fireteam Freelance: The Feedback Post

Well readers, it was a several month journey getting here.

Work first started on Fireteam Freelance at the end of February. At the time, I had no idea how it would turn out. An episodic series? Posted for free, as it was written, with no editing, directly to the site? This was one of those experimental things that sounded interesting, but there were a lot of question about how it would turn out. Now, six months later and with the last entry in the series complete, uploaded, and posted, and with an audience that’s been following every episode of the journey, it’s time for me to ask: what did you guys think?

I have my own thoughts on Freelance, but I’ll be posting those tomorrow. With this post I want to hear from you readers. Those that read it, those that bounced off of it … the gamut. Freelance was experimental, embracing a lot of things that made it different from my more usual, published stuff. It was episodic, which meant that the content of each episode always had to feature the same elements, unlike a book chapter which could count on a reader having read prior chapters.

Basically, there was a lot different about Freelance, and while I’ve got my own thoughts on its performance, what worked, and what definitely didn’t, I’d like to hear from you readers that spent the last six months following it. I want to hear what you liked about it, but also what you didn’t like about it, what you felt worked or didn’t, and/or even what left you feeling cold.

Because again, Freelance was experimental. An exercise in stretching out and trying something new to see how it worked, to see what I could do with it and what readers would think.

Rather than sell something so volatile and unpredictable (after all, it could fail utterly as a fun product), I decided to make it free and see what would happen.

So anyway, this is your big chance to tell me what you thought. And I’m looking forward to hearing it. As I said, I have my own thoughts on it that I’ll post tomorrow, but for now? I’m interested in hearing what you guys thought and think of the adventure now that it’s over.

Hit this link to start commenting!

Being a Better Writer: Being Your Own Worst Critic

Hello readers! First of all, I must apologize for how late this post is. Long story short, after a few days of not sleeping well (some nights barely at all) thanks to my cracked ribs, last night I achieved comfort (mostly) with a large body pillow and a giant bean bag. The result was that I slept for quite a long time. Until about 2:30 PM to be exact. So my apologies, first of all, for this post coming so late in the day.

That said, let’s dive right in so you’re kept from it as little as possible! Let’s talk about the art of being your own worst critic.

This is something that comes up a lot in writing circles. In fact, if you hang out in a writing group you’ve probably heard it a few times. Maybe more than that. You’ll hear it in writing classes as well, and even occasionally from random people passing off “cliche writing advice” (which we did a whole summer feature on last year). But here’s something interesting about this bit of advice: it’s hardly ever expounded upon.

Which can leave a lot of young writers a little perplexed, because, well, let’s face it, advice like “be your own worst critic” is a little vague. Worse, if they happen to know of a bad critic and take the saying at face value, becoming even worse, well … Let’s just say this sends them down a very self-destructive path. In an age where anyone can be a “critic” with the only goal of ripping someone’s hard work to shreds simply because they can, telling someone to be a worse critic than that can end a young writer’s journey before it’s even started.

Which is a shame, because properly explained, being your own worst critic is a pretty good idea, one that every writer should internalize and apply. It’s just that it’s been … warped is a good term for it … by the modern definition of “critic” most people subscribe to.

So then, with today’s post, let’s look at this through some fresh eyes. First, let us discuss what a critic, especially in terms of this context is not, despite the changing of the popular meaning, and root out any mistaken concepts that stem from that misconception, as well as the negative consequence of such.

Once we’ve established what a critic is not, then we’ll discuss instead what “being your own worst critic” really entails, and what that means for writers who want to apply it to their writing. You ready? Then let’s get this underway!

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The Stable Instability

Hello readers! Never fear, I’m still alive. Just hard at work on episode #10 of Fireteam Freelance.

Episode ten? Why yes, I am getting that far ahead. Which is good, because these last episodes are probably going to be pretty titanic. “Season finale” and all that.

Of course, having a pretty good buffer does mean that this Friday will see the release of the next big episode: Missing Persons. I’m pretty pleased with how this episode turned out. Not only did we get a neat view of a future cityscape, but we also got to see a seriously cool action sequence. And some more puzzle pieces clicking together …

Anyway, that will be up this Saturday, so be sure to keep an eye open. We’ve passed the halfway point with Mandatory Takeout, so things are coming together and moving with a swifter and swifter pace, and again, I’m pretty pleased with some of the action sequences from this Saturday’s episode. They’re pretty crazy.

So, moving on to further news: Facebook advertising is now rolling forward. It’s still somewhat experimental, and I’ll admit I don’t have the strongest grasp on it yet (a lot of this is very much learn as you go), but I desperately needed something to combat the abject slump that came about with the reopening of the economy. Sorry, partial reopening. A topic which I won’t get into outside of saying “It’s divisive.”

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Fireteam Freelance: Thoughts and Feedback as we Near the Season Halfway Mark

Hello readers! So last night, I finished up episode seven of Fireteam Freelance, titled Missing Persons.

Those of you that are following along with each episode as it goes live may note that the last episode you read was number five, Catch Your Breath. That’s correct: I’ve managed to get a little ahead of the uploads by having the interviews interspaced with each episode.

Which means that yes, this Saturday will see the uploading of episode six, Mandatory Takeout, in which the team is asked to make … a supply raid on a UNSEC logistical center?

Bits and pieces coming together, folks. Bits and pieces.

So, seeing as you’re about to get the halfway mark of the season, and I’m starting episode eight today (Last One Out), I figured now would be a good time to talk about my thoughts on the series so far, as well as invite you readers a space to make your own responses (or just comments in general on the series so far).

Hit the jump to see what I’ve made of my creation so far. Then leave your thoughts.

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Fireteam Freelance Episode 2 Update and Episode 1 Discussion

Update time! Episode two, titled Blackout, will not be posting tomorrow. It’s about halfway done, though, so look for it next week. What’s episode two about? Well, it involves a new job (shocker!) and … the Mexican Orbital Elevator?

Maybe I should give you guys a bit of a preview! Tell you what, hit the jump below and you’ll get your preview, but after that, let’s open comments for people’s thoughts so far! We’ve technically had three entries, between Episode 0, an interlude, and Episode 1. What’s everyone making of the series this early on? How’s the episodic format working for you? Do you like it? Dislike it? Let me know it the comments, or chat with other readers!

Oh, and I should let you know, I’m planning on getting an official cover made here soon … likely in March. I’m thinking … lots of high energy neon colors. More on that as it comes.

In the meantime, comment on what you think, hit the jump for a little teaser, and then mark your calendars for next Saturday when Blackout will likely drop!

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Jungle: The First Two Weeks

Jungle CoverHello readers! I’m back! Two posts in two days is cutting it a little close, but … We’ve got special circumstances here.

How so? Well, as of two weeks ago Jungle, the long-awaited sequel to Colony, launched at last.

That’s right! It’s been out two weeks already. Some of you might even be getting close to finishing its titanic 1500 or so page length!

And a few of you already have, and left delightful reviews and ratings.

So, let’s talk about it for a bit! What’s the reaction so far?

Positive. Very positive. After two weeks, Jungle is sitting at Five-stars. With only five-ratings and reviews across Goodreads and Amazon. But again, it’s a titan of a book, and only came out two weeks ago. So even in two weeks, that’s a pretty hefty, time-consuming read. Five ratings and reviews in that time is pretty good.

Though, if one goes off of the reviews so far, it’s pretty easy to see how some finished it that quickly. Jungle has a knack, it seems for sucking the reader in and taking them on a ride to the very end, a ride no one wants to put down. One of the reviews is titled “A Tour de Force” for this exact reason.

So, let’s take a peek at some of these accolades! Well, from the aforementioned “Tour de Force” review, we’ve got this praise:

Lush, wildly imaginative and painstakingly yet appropriately concisely detailed settings, interstellar in scope but with careful attention to individual characters and their human(-ish?) interactions, speculative science that was fantastic beyond my imagining yet internally consistent and satisfyingly believable, and most important to me, characters that I could care about – even several of the ones who were obnoxious or abrasive (much like the real humans in my circle).

Another reviewer noted that the story “… becomes a frenzied dash for survival” and summed up a lengthy (but concise and spoiler-free) review with—

Ultimately, Jungle is a slow-build thrill ride full of interesting characters, deadly stakes, and terrible threats looming around the corner. The threats here are far less human than the last story had to offer, but is no less engrossing for it. Fans of Colony will not be disappointed.

Both gave it five stars.

So yeah, Jungle is off to a very strong start, at least in the reactions from the public. Speaking of which, if you’re currently working your way through it, what are your thoughts so far? Predictions for the future? Where are you at? How are you liking it so far? Leave a comment! I’d be interested in knowing what you’re thinking!

So, Jungle is being received well critically. What about as far as sales go? Well, that’s proved interesting so far. Hit the jump for a discussion on sales and interesting trends on display.

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The Most-Read BaBW Post to Date

So, I got curious the other day and started digging through site history on here. Why? Well, I can look at stats here on a yearly basis (but not lifetime, for some odd reason) and started wondering about each year’s most popular Being a Better Writer posts. What, I wondered, was the most popular (read: one with the most views) to date?

Now, granted, this is a little unfair. Posts that have been around longer have much more time to rack up views, so older posts automatically have an advantage. Case in point, the most highly-viewed BaBW post comes from 2015, so it’s had four years to gather its viewcount. The post right behind it has had two. The post that I believe to be in third place has only boomed recently, since it became a wikipedia reference.

Anyway, not much point in beating around the bush. The (current) most read BaBW article of all time?

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