The Writer's Mailbag: Installment One-Hundred
Let’s Do a Happy Dance, Shall We?
Why not, right? I mean, it’s not like this is a life-altering accomplishment but still, one-hundred is a pretty cool number, right?
So congratulations and thanks to all of you who kept this series alive through your great questions and loyal reading…..and enough of that mushy stuff…let’s get it on!
From Tarunponders: “So thanks indeed for that. Coming back to the Mailbag, As a writer I too feel suffocated because of certain concerns that either hamper my progress or kill my writer's ego and I wanted to put them across to you to find some gasping breath. So how do I go about this one? If I have followed your mailbags correctly then I believe the next one up is #99 right? So what should I do to get my question featured in that one or is it that I have to wait as there is already a wait-list or something. Lastly, Where should I send my question/s to?”
We start with a nice, easy pitch for me to swing at. Tarunponders, you can add your questions to the comment section below or you can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And it’s just that simple, my friend.
And he did follow these instructions earlier in the week, and his first question will appear next week. Stay tuned!
What I know about writing
Emotional Attachment to Characters
From Lawrence: “One question I've got is you mentioned that in the first draft you get the story down and then go back with the emotional content. I found recently that by the end of the first draft I was 'in touch' with the characters emotionally and when I went back to do the re-write if was actually hard not to put too much of the emotional stuff into the beginning of the story as I wanted that to 'unfold' as the story progresses, ever have that problem? Just curious to see how others deal with the situation!.”
It’s a great question, Lawrence. For me it’s a conscious effort. With emotional output, I want my characters to introduce it slowly, over the span of several chapters, and I have to constantly remind myself to do that. Of course, there are some characters, like say an evil person, who can be emotionally unstable from the first chapter, but the main characters, for me, have to take it slow, and my job is to remember that as I go along. Since I don’t do outlines this really is a conscious effort….but maybe a brief outline of sorts would help you to stay on task regarding emotions?
From Mary: “A question for next week's mailbag. What are your thoughts on email marketing for writers. I know you have covered FB, do you feel this is too aggressive or just good marketing?”
Mary, my friend Heidi will weigh in on this in her comments, so check back and see what she says. For me it’s too much and the last thing I want to do is too much marketing and yes, I believe it’s possible to market your book too much. ( sorry, Heidi)
And then we have the question ….. is it effective? I delete 99% of the emails I receive and I delete 100% of all marketing emails I receive. I’m tired of everyone trying to sell me something online. And I suspect a great many people feel the same way I do. So I don’t do it!
Search Engine Searches
From Eric: “I was just wondering if the "How to" articles are still the most fancied by search engines.”
Eric, it’s hard to find a definitive source for an answer to this question. I can tell you that the top two topics on Twitter and Facebook are music and television. Celebrities are easily the number one topic trending on Google.
“How to” articles will always be popular. In a society where the majority of drivers do not know how to change a tire on their vehicle, “how to” will always have a place in our google-driven hearts.
But if you want to guarantee a chance at success, write articles about music, celebrities or television. We modern families love our music, television and celebrities.
From Linda: “My question is about repetition--using the same word in a paragraph (or page) again and again. If done properly it can have a dramatic effect. However, that is usually not what those guilty of the crime were striving for. More often than not I see things written that are simply lazy. Am I being too critical, or do you wish that every author had a Roget's Thesaurus and knew how to use it. What are your thoughts on this, and is there a guideline or rule of thumb?”
Linda, welcome to one of my pet peeves.
I told this story once before but it is worth repeating. I was at the grocery store a few months ago and there was a book display there for a local mystery writer. Since I love mysteries and I love to support local writers, I picked the book up and started reading the first page.
In the first two paragraphs the author had started six sentences with the word “she.”
Gag me with a spoon! That, my friends, is lazy writing. It was not done for effect. It was done because she either didn’t know any better or she didn’t care.
I don’t know if there is a guideline or rule of thumb out there, but I have my own: don’t use the same word twice in a paragraph. I’m not talking about words like “and” or “the,” of course. I’m talking about “he looked out over the beautiful field and saw many beautiful things.” For the love of God, a writer can do better than that, can’t they?
I actually get upset when I’m talking about this topic, so I better stop now.
Too Much of a Good Thing
From Kailey: “The question from John makes sense. You bring up a good point. Even if you look at the issues going on right now with YouTube, you will see how uploading too often can lead to subscriber loss. Would you say that's a similar problem?”
Kailey, I think we all suffer from input overload. There was a movie a couple decades ago, and for the life of me I can’t remember the name of it, but it had a line in it: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” That’s how I feel about too much of a good thing…..and here’s my thought on it….if I have to constantly remind my readers and friends that I’ve written a book….if I have to slap them alongside the head fifty times to get their attention….then either they don’t care or my writing sucks! Either way I lose.
My job is to become the best writer possible. After that I have to believe that my writing will sell because of word of mouth and some well-placed advertising on my part. Gorilla marketing my Facebook friends will not get the job done and may, in fact, have the opposite effect.
From Buildreps: “I want to toss in a question for this anniversary. Yeah, I do! Here it comes: "Hey Billybuc, I am so happy to have you on Hubpages. I'm not always reading every post of you on HP, so please forgive me for this. But I believe I haven't missed much installments. And I love your Billy the Kid series very much as well. The question is this: What do you think about this quote of Teilhard de Jardin? "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience." What do you think? Is there an answer to this question? And how does your answer relate to your work as a writer?"
Good God, Buildreps! What a question!!!!!
Let me preface my answer with this….I rarely, if ever, talk about religion online. I don’t care to share my religious beliefs with others and I really don’t care what their beliefs are. However, your question doesn’t speak of religion per se but really about the very nature of our existence.
I do believe we are more than our corporeal selves. I do believe there is more to life than just this journey on earth so yes, I believe we spiritual beings are having a portion of our existence here on earth as humans and there is more to come. Can I prove that? No! Do I care to try and prove it? No! It’s just my reflection and I don’t much care if anyone else believes it.
I find it interesting that we humans are so fearful of death. Either I’m right, and we move on to another realm of existence after we die, or there is nothingness. Either one sounds okay to me. LOL
How does that belief relate to my work as a writer? I think it’s only natural that my beliefs manifest themselves in my writings. Several of my main characters have been philosophical men, men who spend their spare time thinking of heavy, weighty matters such as your question, just as I do. On a related path, if I truly do believe I’m a spiritual being, which I do, then that calls on me to raise my game a bit and not be such a classless bore, don’t you think? I need to live up to my spiritual nature or at least try to do so, and quit settling for actions consistent with cave men.
And I need to elevate my writing so it reflects the efforts of a spiritual being.
Just one man’s opinion!
And That Is a Wrap!
I had so much fun with the first one-hundred I want to keep this going.
How about you? Do you think we should do this again next week?
If so, ask questions! That’s how this works.
Thanks again to you all. I couldn’t have done it without you.
And yes, I’m still working on my first Mailbag Podcast. It’s coming, I promise!
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”