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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 292

Updated on January 20, 2020

The Beauty All Around Us

We finally had our first snow of the winter. Not much, about two inches, but it was enough to cover everything in a blanket of white, to muffle the sounds of the city, and to provide wonder for our two dogs, Maggie and Tobias.

I am reminded, again, just how beautiful nature is. Yes, I get it, many of you have long, cold winters with more snow than any sane person could ever want, but I also know that there is beauty in the stillness of a snowfall, and there is majesty in the blanketed cleansing of a city after the snow, for just a few moments, brings the hectic pace of life to a standstill.

The older I get, the more I come to appreciate the little things in life.

Look around you! Writers are storytellers, but we are also chroniclers. I have writing friends in Africa who have never seen snow. If I do my job correctly, they can experience it through my words.

Get out there and chronicle! Get out there and tell a story! Keep the tradition alive!

The Mail Room!
The Mail Room!

Organizing for Publication

From Chris:

“I have a question for you regarding how to break up my short stories for publication. You can use this question for the mailbag if it seems appropriate. My writing covers the following genres:

  • Drama
  • Suspense
  • Comedy
  • HIstorical Fiction
  • Horror
  • Fantasy
  • Science Fiction

“Should I publish separate books for speculative fiction (Horror, Fantasy, Sci Fi) and realistic fiction (Drama, Suspense, Comedy, Historical Fiction)? My "good" stories total about 87k words. 62k are speculative and 26k are realistic. One, two or three books? What do you think?”

What do I think? That’s really what my answer is all about, a gut reaction flash-thought. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. If it were me I would publish two books. The speculative fiction would be about the size of a normal novel. The realistic fiction would make a good novella in length. Price them accordingly and turn them loose to the world.

I honestly have no logical reason for my answer other than my need to be “orderly” in a chaotic world. I’m sure someone in the comments will say one book, and I’m sure they will have a perfectly good reason for saying that.

Good luck with your project, Chris!

More on Screenplays

From Faith: “I believe I read where one can write a screenplay without already having a written story ... or is that unheard of in this area?”

I don’t think it’s unheard of at all, Faith. It seems to me it would be harder to do, but that’s just because it would be harder to do for me if I were to try it. If you had a rough story in your brain, and you wrote an outline of that story, it seems to me it would be possible to develop a screenplay from that outline.

Mind you, I’m not brave enough to try it, but I do think it would be possible to do.


From Melissa: “Happy Monday Bill! For your writing coach services, do people pay for 1 month only? Or do they continue to do it month after month? And have all your slots been filled? I am not in a position to do it at the moment, but I am very curious as to how that works!”

Happy Monday to you, Melissa. My coaching services are month to month . . .pay for one month and quit, or continue using the service for as long as you want.

And I would love to work with you! I will always have room for you, my friend. $50 per month, for as long as you want me, and the same goes for all of you reading this. I picked up two new students this week, but there is still room for you!

We can all benefit from coaching
We can all benefit from coaching

More on Screenplays

From Faith: “Bill, you really should give it a shot, especially being you already have your own books from which to write a screenplay! Some of your books would certainly make excellent thrillers. From my research, I learned that one page of a screenplay is equal to one minute of screen time of a movie. Movies are generally two hours long, so that translates into 120 pages for a movie. If you were to write one for a tv series, of course each episode is a whole lot shorter, keeping in mind commercials. I’ve been watching that SVU crime show and paying close attention to each scene and the dialogue. That show has really good writers. Each line propels the story, which is key, I’ve learned. In other words ... not a lot of wasted chit chat going on, but only that which moves the story forward. I’m not sure if one must be a member of the Screenwriters’ Guild or not to submit screenplays, but probably so. Do you know?”

Well, Faith, I went to the Screenwriter’s Guild website and found the answer. Being a member of the Guild means you can pitch a screenplay to another member of the Guild. If you are not a member then other members are not allowed to review your screenplay according to the bylaws of the Guild. Now I’m sure there are producers out there who are not Guild members, and I’m sure they read pitches quite often from non-Guild members, but I think you increase your options by being a member of the Guild.

How much are dues? First you have to pass an application process, which can be quite daunting. Then the time arrives to pay your annual dues. The necessary evil: WGA union members have to pay annual dues. They range from person to person, but are always 1.5 percent of applicable earnings, plus $25. A person I contacted paid approximately $1,200 for his yearly membership, and he said that was fairly normal but he thought it was worth it.

I don’t know why, but the “plus $25” makes me laugh. After paying $1,200, why is that last $25 so important that it is actually listed in the information on the website?

Anyway, there you have it!


For those of you interested, my memoir is now available for purchase. You can find it by going to my Facebook page. The links are listed there. I would put the link here but I'm afraid HP will tag it as self-promotion and delay the publishing of this Hub.

Available now on Amazon
Available now on Amazon

Back to the Beauty All Around Us

I live in a truly beautiful part of the world. Olympia sits between two mountain ranges, the Cascades and the Olympics. It is on the shores of an inland sea called Puget Sound. We are surrounded by rivers and lakes, islands and snow-capped peaks. Washington is called “The Evergreen State” for good reason. One would have to be blind not to appreciate the bounty that surrounds us here in the Puget Sound region.

But there is beauty everywhere. I love looking at a thousand acres of wheat, or corn, in Iowa or Kansas, the stalks blowing in the gentle breeze. I loved the sugar maples of Vermont in late September, an absolute explosion of color to dazzle even the most jaded among us. I loved the stark beauty of the Mojave Desert, and the windswept cold of the Alaskan tundra.

It is all there for us writers to experience and record.

It is all there for us to share with readers who cannot see it for themselves.

You have a calling, a job to do, so get out there and do it!

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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