Which is more important to you as a writer, is it quality or quantity?


So what floats your boat? Is it a daily word count in the thousands, or maybe one hundred carefully chosen ones? While many writers don’t feel they have done a decent day’s work unless they have literally bashed out two to three thousands words – yes I did say bashed out, others (myself included) far prefer quality over quantity.

For any of you who wholly subscribe to the multi thousand words per day argument, take a moment to reconsider.

Let’s say for argument’s sake that you have just written three thousand words. Now put yourself in your editor’s shoes. What will he or she do when confronted with your latest contribution to literature? When they have looked long and hard at what you have written, chances are that once they stop shaking their heads, they will put their red pen through around two thousand nine hundred of them, with notations all over the place, such as – why did you say this? How many times must I remind you – don’t use passive voice!!! They’re not there! Re-write this passage from the pov of Victoria, not Hermione, etc, etc.

Does what I’ve just said seem a bit harsh to you? If your answer is definitely, then I’m sorry, but you really shouldn’t be surprised when your editor does exactly as I have just outlined above, or something similar. Either way you won’t like it.

For the average writer, pouring out thousands of words per day in the vain hope that some of what you have written may be usable is not only a complete waste of time, but also counter productive, even though you may have come up with a vague idea. It matters little that you have thoroughly planned out your storyline, or are merely winging it, typing what immediately springs to mind. Without careful thought and taking the time to deliberately choose words of quality, ie – the right ones, you are making a rod for your own backs. One thing you soon learn to do as an Indie is to be your own editor, long before you pass your MS over to someone else.


Now then, here’s an exercise in what I’m talking about for all of you to try. The following is the first incarnation of one specific sentence from my latest sci-fi WIP – The Guardian. One thing it is not is the version I eventually settled on. Nor is it the same length.

An intense flash of light temporarily blinded all of them.

All you have to do is come up with what you think is a worthy alternative, saying exactly the same thing, but in a completely different way.

Write your answer on the back of a postcard and… Oh wait a minute, we’re living in the twenty-first century now aren’t we, not the twentieth. I apologise for having a senior moment. Here’s what you should do. Just leave your answer as a comment for this blog post. Remember, you don’t have to limit yourselves to using a different combination of the original words. Think about the original sentence and what it tells you. Your sentence can be as long or as short as you please, just so long as it conveys the original sentence’s meaning.

Seems easy, right? Ok you lucky people, put your thinking caps on and have a go.

By the way, before you ask, no I am not going to make your lives easy by setting the scene for you, except to say that Adler, Lynne, Philippe and Anatole need to get as far away as possible from what happened.

The one who is closest to the version I finally settled on gets a smiley face. If it’s one of the many lovely ladies who follow my blog, you get a smiley face and a couple of kisses thrown in for good measure.

Have fun.


The First Version Of The Hook


Ok folks, if you have been keeping up with my blog, you will have already read my previous post on the subject of the Hook. If not here is it’s link – https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2014/12/26/writing-the-hook/.

Now then, all I need from the three hundred and twenty-two people who currently follow my blog is for you all to read through the first version of the Hook shown below.

Don’t just click ‘like’ and move on, or ignore it. Here is your one and only chance to partake in the birth of a new novel. I really need your totally unbiased opinions. Even if science fiction does nothing for you, I still want to know whether or not the Hook works. In other words did it get your attention to the point where you want to know more? One other thing, forget about the character names. At this stage of the proceedings, they are very temporary. I just used them to give you the two character’s points of view.


   Dark pitiless eyes surveyed the scene one last time. Satisfied that the threat was eliminated, it turned to head back to its hiding place. Something on one of the screens temporarily caught its attention. More trouble was on the way down to the surface.
  “Why us?” Cal grumbled. Like Mike he already knew the answer. Tradition demands that the questions be asked by anyone crazy enough to have agreed to be sent on a mission like this. Both men were ex-military. Mike was a former sergeant in the Military Police, while Cal was an ex fighter pilot, making them ideal as trouble-shooters in the eyes of the company, even though they were not expected to survive. If they managed to work out what had happened, all well and good. If not, someone else would be sent in their place. “What’s so all-fired important about an automated mining operation on Mars?” Cal continued, “and why the hell are we on this stinking ancient solar transporter. Why didn’t they get us seats on something more luxurious for the trip?”
“Quit bellyaching will you! Even though the system is automated, techs are still needed to keep an eye on the machinery and fix things when they break. Plus the ore has to be taken from the surface up to the space port to be loaded aboard unmanned transporters like this one for the return journey to Earth, which means someone has to fly the cargo shuttles. The whole operation demands that a small population lives in an accommodation block down inside the mine in Valles Marineris. According to the company, the last load of ore to arrive back home was six months ago. Before that the mine was sending regular monthly consignments. We’re being sent to find out why the operation has stopped. Any more questions? No? Good. Now let’s get down there.”


Ok, now you have read it, please think about it first, then leave your opinions below in the comments section. No idiotic ones thanks TSRA. For me, and every other published writer, this is a serious game. None of us are in it for the laughs – there are non to be had.

PS – until I’ve read all of your comments, I won’t continue on with the first chapter. So get busy, please..


Totally Incomprehensible Acts


There is an unwritten understanding that all self-published writers will help each other out however they can. For my part I use this blog from time to time to pass on my own experiences in this bitchy world we all inhabit – aka, the world of publishing. I also try to make people aware of other writers who also have a blog by creating a link to their posts via the medium of the reblog. From time to time I offer positive comments on their posts in support. I don’t have to do it. It’s just in my nature to want to help others…

Yesterday, through our mutual friend The Storyreading Ape, I saw another post that cried out to be reblogged to make it known to those of you who follow my blog. Because I totally agreed with its sentiments, I also left a comment. Then I received the following from the writer concerned:

“Thank you for reblogging my post. However I deleted your comment because I find it extremely offensive when people shorten my name without asking permission. My name is ………; and I clearly indicated that I go by ….. In the future, please respect a writer by using their given names unless otherwise indicated. Thank you.”

To say I was totally taken aback would be an understatement!

Because of that childish outburst, simply because I used the first part of their double barrel Christian name instead of the second part as they insisted, like you I can only assume that they are not only wholly insecure but also deeply ungrateful for my wishing to help publicize both them and their blog. Once I got over the writer’s irrational outburst, I immediately deleted the reblog of their post as well as blocking their blog from my list of Blogs I Follow. You will note that to prevent the writer being embarrassed or harrassed for their incomprehensible act I have deliberately left out any reference to them, their blog and the post in question.

As writers we all need to embrace positive public relations. Clearly the writer in question either doesn’t realize this, or they have decided that they don’t need to avail themselves of it, taking the totally misguided view that their talent alone will ensure their success as a writer. This particular writer obviously needs to reassess their attitudes. All writers need allies and friends, especially other writers…

Solitary by Necessity


By definition writing fiction must be a solitary affair. When it comes to non-fiction, collaboration between writers is possible, often highly desirable. In this case two heads are better than one when it comes to the necessary amount of research required; whereas the very idea of attempting to co-write a work of fiction with another writer leaves much to be desired. It only ever works in the arenas of film and television where a team of script writers brainstorm and throw ideas for specific situations into the mix.

Why could it never work with writing fictional books? Could it simply be down to a clash of personalities? I don’t think so; I believe it goes much deeper than that. Any writer of fiction worth their salt will tell you that coming up with that fresh storyline is akin to bringing a new-born into the world. It first appears as a vague notion in your mind which slowly develops as time goes by. As you begin writing, it gradually advances from the embryo stage. Like any prospective parent you jealously guard and nurture it as it grows. So the very idea of sharing that idea with another writer, expecting them to feel that same way about it, let alone using your ‘voice’ because you are the originator, simply does not compute. The idea is yours and yours alone. Therefore you must always be the one to see it through to completion.

As far as books go there is only one area in fiction writing where any form of collaboration appears to work successfully, and that is in the field of short story anthologies. But even then each tale is written by a solitary writer, so it’s still not true collaboration.

Having said all this, I do know of one recent example where two fiction writers worked on one project together. Whether or not their brave, some might say foolish, decision to collaborate will be justified is now down to the reading public’s acceptance of the book in question. After all, as writers we are all aware of just how fickle, nay contrary, the reading public can be at times.