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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Sixty-Two

Updated on August 31, 2015

Welcome Back, My Friends

Rain has returned to rain-starved Washington State and it is a welcomed visitor. The wildfires have been horrendous this year in the west. Here’s hoping Fall brings us all a little break from the drama.

But there’s no drama at the Mailbag; just good questions and hopefully good answers. Let’s get started with a question about HubPages.

The Mailbag continues
The Mailbag continues | Source

HUBPAGES

From adevwriting: “Interesting to read! I have a question to you. Ever since the HubPages team has been introducing changes to the site, many hubbers feel like discontinuing writing on HubPages. What is your take on the issue? Would it be all right for new hubbers with potential for quality writing?”

My stance on HubPages hasn’t changed much over the years. I think it’s a great community and more-than-adequate platform for practicing your writing and fine-tuning your craft. If it’s money you are after there are better ways to spend your time. Standing on a street corner with a sign would be one. That’s the long and short of my answer.

One or Five, Which Is Better?

From Buildreps: “What do you think, Bill. Is it better to publish one book, of let's say 100,000 words, or 5 books of 20,000 words each? Both books concepts cover in general the same content, but the content can be cut into pieces easily. Thanks, and I wish you the best autumn of your life:)”

Buildreps, it’s an interesting question. The brave new world of ebooks allows writers to self-publish books of 20,000 words now, and evidently some people do quite well selling them for ninety-nine cents. There is much to be said for a series of related books, provided the first one is good enough to entice people to read the next four. I think that’s the key. Good writing fosters a loyal audience. Bad writing fosters a change in careers. J

Having said all that, I’m a traditionalist, and I would always lean towards the one book, 100,000 word route, but that’s just a personal preference and nothing more.

Strong characters are definitely essential when telling a story
Strong characters are definitely essential when telling a story | Source

Story Essentials

From Brian: “Bill, what are the essential elements of any story beyond a mere anecdote or incident? How about: When a new circumstance disrupts how the protagonist expects his situation to develop, the antagonist opposes the protagonist's response, which puts the outcome in question and reveals and further shapes the protagonist's character? Or?”

Brian has this nasty habit of making me think with his questions. It’s early Friday morning as I write this and I hope I’m up for the challenge he’s posed with his question.

What you are referring to in your question, Brian, is called a spark, an event that forces the protagonist to react. In most novels there is a spark every 20,000 words or so. The spark propels the story. Without it we have a very long-winded character study with no action.

I’m a huge believer in strong characterization. I believe strong characters are what make novels memorable, so for me, developing vibrant characters is essential for any good story.

Of course, then we probably should mention theme as a key element, and tone, and atmosphere, and….and….and…..

And my personal favorite of all the essentials of a story…..good writing!

Blood, Sweat and Tears

From Sally: “I am curious, does it ever feel to you that writing a book is a bit like giving birth?

It does seem to me that there is so much emotional energy put into writing a Book. Do you ever feel as if it will suck the life blood out of you?”

Sally, I think any person who has written a book feels that way. It does become an obsessive pursuit as you get deeper into the process. When I write a novel my characters come alive for me. I become totally invested in their welfare, so that can be very trying. Having said that, where I really felt that phenomenon was when I was writing social conscience articles….articles about sex trafficking or abuse. Those really drained me to the point where I had to stop writing them for fear of being permanently depressed.

Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings….

From Ann: “Here's a question for you; do we unconsciously show our own feelings and character when we write (fact or fiction)? I'm not talking about 'voice' because we can control that, I'm talking about something that comes through the writing whether we realize it or not. Hope you see what I'm getting at.”

I do see what you are getting at, Ann. There are so many types of writing and genres, so my answer will not be “one fits all.” I wrote a novel called “Resurrecting Tobias” and my feelings where right on the surface in that one. In my novel before that, “The 12/59 Shuttle,” I made the protagonist a self-centered butthead who shared few of my real feelings. While writing that novel I had to fight myself all the way to keep my true feelings about life from surfacing in the book.

When writing social commentary articles my feelings are always right there for everyone to see, but what about non-fiction like in news reporting? It seems to me the writer must keep all feelings at bay when writing a factual accounting of some event. That’s why I would never make a good news reporter. It would be almost impossible for me to state the facts without making an editorial comment. J

Intro or Preface?

From Faith: “Hey, exactly what’s the difference between an introduction, a foreword, a preface, and a prologue? Also, with each, is there any particular type of book one should use in lieu of the other? I know this one is elementary, but it can be confusing at times.”

Faith, it may be elementary, but I had to do some research to find the answers.

A foreword is a brief introduction about your book written by a 3rd party. It is basically a credible opinion about your book written, usually, by someone of some fame. You can see this in fiction and/or non-fiction.

A preface is written by the author and it is usually some interesting background information that leads into the book subject matter. If I wrote a book and I wanted to explain to my readers how the book idea was born, I could explain that in a preface.

An introduction is basically the same as a preface. It is written by the author. Some people will use introductions instead of prefaces because they realize the majority of readers don’t read the prefaces. Silly but true.

A prologue is usually a first chapter that leads into the main story. Clive Cussler is a master of prologues. He usually begins his novels with some historical event that happened hundreds of years before the time of the novel, but that event is directly related to the actual novel. One other point about a prologue is that if you use one you need to use an epilogue at the end of the novel. They are basically book ends in a literal and figurative sense.

ORGANIZATION

From Eric: “Excuse me but I have a legitimate question. Maybe. You are actually quite organized. You get a lot done everyday. I want to be like Bill. But when I write stuff just comes and it does not come on my table of organization and productivity. Just when I get rockin and a rollin in thought and writing the danged second period bell goes off and I have to go do algebra instead of writing. Even if I set time aside to write, well it just does not work that way. Help!”

Eric, you always make me laugh. I hope you’re laughing when I give you the answer. I have no clue what to do with you. LOL For that matter, I have no idea what to do with my wife Bev. She’s the same way. I’ve tried to work with her but she’s like a butterfly on speed, flittering this way and that, allowing the wind to dictate her direction. She rarely finishes a project at first-sitting. I have learned to accept that’s just the way she is.

I’ve read a number of articles about this in an attempt to help her, but the suggestions make no sense to me. The best suggestion/tip I’ve seen is to bite off small, manageable tasks…nothing that requires a long time to complete…and build from there. In your case, maybe say that Monday you are going to write 100 words of an article. Tuesday you will write another 100 and so on until that article is completed.

Like I said, I don’t have a clue.

Don't over-crowd your book with characters at the beginning
Don't over-crowd your book with characters at the beginning | Source

Pesky Characters

From Zulma: “Anyway...I finally put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and began work on my first novel. I spent on hour constructing the first page then walked away and did something else. I came back to it, read it as an outsider and found myself confused. I can't believe I fell into the trap of introducing too many characters in one go.

Do you have a method for introducing characters so your readers don't feel that they are being ganged up on?”

Zulma, I know exactly what you are talking about. There is a famous author who writes spy novels, and he has this nasty habit of introducing ten characters in the first chapter and they all have foreign-sounding names. I’m literally lost and confused after the first twenty pages. I quit reading him because of that.

I read somewhere that an author should introduce no more than three main characters in the first chapter and preferably two. The rest can be tossed in as the book continues, one here, two there, another one in Chapter Six, one more….well, you obviously understand my point. When in doubt, follow the K.I.S.S. method….Keep it Simple, Stupid. And no, I’m not calling you stupid. I was referring to me.

POPULAR?

From Brad: “Finally, here is a question for you. What is the most marketable fiction story to write today? What is the genre, the subject, and the angle of writing about it?”

Brad, I took a guess at this and then I looked it up. My guess was romance with young adult coming in second. After some research I found out the most popular genre today is romance followed by, in order, mystery, inspirational, sci fi and horror.

In the Words of Porky Pig, That’s All, Folks!

This was a long installment. Lots of great questions and I thank all those who submitted questions this week. I’ll see all of you next week with another installment of the Mailbag. In the meantime, keep your wick dry and never spit into the wind. I learned that last tip the hard way.

2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 21 months ago from New York, New York

      Wow, so much great advice as always here Bill and honestly could never thank you enough for all you do for all of us writers here. Just glad to here some much rain as found its way to your part of the country and hoping for a cooler Fall for sure now. Happy Monday and as always wishing you a most wonderful week ahead now!! :)

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 21 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Great questions and equally good answers Bill, glad to hear the rain has come your way..it has here as well. All the best for the week ahead.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Happy Monday Janine and thank you as always. Still cloudy and cool here and it feels heavenly.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks John! Have a great week, my friend.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 21 months ago from SW England

      Thanks, bill, for answering my question. I interpreted your answer as 'feelings show through unless you guide them in the right direction' and 'sometimes you need them, sometimes you don't'.

      Your mail bags are always educational; the intro, prologue etc was a good one. Always unexpected topics and often answers that provide me with ideas. Thank you.

      We have a bank holiday here today (always the last Monday of August) so chilling out a little. Guests gone home, family days this week, then off to France (yes, again, it's so tedious!!!) after celebrating a cousin's wedding anniversary at the weekend. I'm looking forward to reading, writing (NO arithmetic) and taking even more photos; a month of relaxation to re-charge the batteries.

      Hope your Monday is magnificent, bill.

      Ann :)

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 21 months ago

      I have said it before and I will say it again. You are the gift that keeps on giving. I would take any one of your articles in this series over any of the help books out there. You are not only a gifted writer, you are a talented teacher, as well. Wow, we just agreed again!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, you continue to taunt me with your traveling. I'll have you know it no longer bothers me, so taunt ahead my friend. :)

      Thank you...your interpretation of my answer is as good as I could offer. :)

      Have a superb Monday and week ahead. Rest up for your big French adventure.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Twice in one day, Pop. We better stop while we're far ahead. LOL

      Thank you my friend.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 21 months ago

      You are quite welcome and I refuse to stop!

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 21 months ago from Orange County California

      Bill

      Your research seems to show that the current order is much like the order from decades and decades ago.

      To me it indicates that the big chunk of the readers are women, as Romance is not the food of thought for men. Mysteries are enjoyed by both sexes, while sci fi and horror go most to men.

      Thanks for you answer.

      I learned something from the question on the 20,000 word E books. These are close to the size of the excerpts that were in magazines, and maybe the Reader's Digest, I am just guessing. A really short story, at 20,000 words.

      I have written comments of 8,000 words, which is quantity and not quality writing.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL....alrighty then, Pop. Carry on!

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 21 months ago from Europe

      Thanks for answering the question, Bill! I have the same preference to publish one book of 100k words. As a real Libra, this is what I'm going to do. I'm writing the book in its totality, then I cut it additional into 5 pieces, and publish both. The pricing will be in favour of the 100k. So, it's cheaper to buy the whole in once, than the 5 separate pieces.

      Thanks for the advice, my friend, because your answer gave me this idea!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Brad, you are very welcome.

      It is an interesting phenomenon, this return of the short story. Long ago pulp fiction sold very well...cheap miniature books of comparable size, sold for a nickle all around America. We seem to be returning to that....everyone is too busy to read a full-length novel. Me, I feel cheated if it's under 100,000 words. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Buildreps, I love your approach, and your thinking is right on! Give them both, make them choose, and hopefully the pricing will make them choose the option you prefer. I love it!!!!

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 21 months ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! You answered a lot of great questions today and as usual I learned a lot. I didn't know that if you used a prologue, you must use an epilogue. Most rules are meant to be broken...any examples of an author only using one or the other?

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 21 months ago from london

      Thanks Bill.

      A great and superb Hub! Get's better.

      A very sincere answer to Faith. If I can add, with your kind permission, A Prologue can make or break the book and it is what makes us want to read the book - celeb or no celeb - as long as it is done well.

      I do not know that Prologue's always need an Epilogue. Harold Robbins was a famous Story-teller and very good at this. Again, Prologues can differ in style and content. I began my book with a Prologue mentioning Sri Chinmoy's passing, in a very vivid and poetic way. I ended not with an Epilogue, but a Legacy.

      I'm so glad that you do not write the social conscience stuff anymore. All things have their place and purpose, but we move on ..

      Much Love, Bro. Higher thoughts to Bev and family.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Melissa, actually, I don't think that's a rule....but it almost always follows if there is a prologue there's an epilogue. Actually, I see no reason why one would have to have an epilogue...so go with the rules are meant to be broken rule....oops, no rules. :) Thanks for always stopping by.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for your input, Manatita! You began with a prologue but ended with a Legacy? apples and oranges, or two different types of apples? LOL I tease you. Have a superb week.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 21 months ago from Central Florida

      Thanx for Faith's question and your clarification on the definition of forward, intro, preface, and prologue. That in itself makes this page worthy of bookmarking.

      I also agree with you regarding the issue of multiple characters. We readers need to get to know each one before we're bombarded with a virtual stadium full of people. The writer must ask him/herself whether or not they are significant to the story. Are they one scene wonders? Will they show up later in the novel and give the reader an aha moment as to their role?

      I began editing a client's novel a while back. She sent me a prologue that was so rife with characters I found myself completely lost on the first page. I sent it back to her and asked her to eliminate anyone who didn't serve a purpose in the rest of the novel. Turns out not a single one of them were going to appear (she's still in the writing process) in subsequent pages. So, why were they brought up in the prologue?

      Too many characters confuse the issue. Unless you give them sufficient presence so the reader can identify and relate to them when they appear, you risk losing your reader(s), as you mentioned above. If a novel or article has me completely baffled by who's who and who's doing what to whom, it's much easier to close the book and put it in the yard sale pile, than to tax my brain trying to figure out what the hell's going on. I read for pleasure, not to twist my brain cells into knots!

      K. I'm through rambling. I'm going to finish watching the interview with Janet Evanovitch. I had no idea she's so funny. She had me laughing from word one!

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 21 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Bill, your answer to my question (like all of your answers) was excellent and helpful; thanks for it. However, my question as you understood it was different than my question as I understood it, so I will rephrase it.

      What is a template of the essentials that apply to any story, whether an oral tale, a folk tale, flash fiction, a short short story, a short story, a novella, a novel, a novel's subplot, a play, a film drama, a graphic novel, or whatever sort of story? What elements are needed for it to be a story, without any one of which it would not be a story at all, whether excellent, mediocre or awful?

      My suggestion again, with additions: "When a new circumstance disrupts how the protagonist expects hir situation to develop, posing a threat and/or opportunity, the antagonist opposes the protagonist's response, and this conflict puts the outcome in question and reveals and shapes the protagonist's character, the whole being told with feeling."

      Does that leave out anything needed or include anything not needed? I guess what I am seeking is a generic, fill in the blanks, story logline.

      Of course this pertains to dramatic stories and not to anecdotes or to episodic stories such as THE ODYSSEY, GULLIVER'S TRAVELS, or PILGRIM'S PROGRESS.

      And another question: Your answer copy edited my suggestion, replacing 'hir' with 'his'. During this past year, I've noticed some writers using 'hir' for 'his or her' or for 'him or her' and using 'ze' for 'he or she'. See the Gender Neutral Pronoun Blog. This seems to me a good idea that should be adopted by writers for use when appropriate. Do you agree?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, thanks for adding all that. Great example about that customer of yours. It's amazing how much dead wood can be eliminated from a novel just by following the suggestions you just mentioned.

      Good to see you here today. This is a bonus for me. Thanks dear friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sorry about the misunderstanding, Brian. I was a bit confused by the question but now i'm not. I'll have a better answer for you next Monday. As for your second question it's strange but this just came up this morning in another article I was reading....weird how you mentioned the same thing on the same day. :) Thanks for both questions.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 21 months ago from Central Florida

      Bill, after today, my responses will be quite late. Tomorrow I start my new job. With it being 19 miles from home, I'll have a bit of drive time to contend with, but that's okay. Maybe my muse will keep me company.

      I look forward to not stressing over bills. What I look forward to even more is writing in my voice for my audience. Maybe one day I'll have a successful novel under my belt. At least I won't have to be the writer's voice for someone else as the means to the end. I discovered that messes with my psyche. Musiana doesn't cotton to it much either. :-)

    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 21 months ago

      Very interesting questions this time Bill Sir and equally interesting answers thank you. Of them all, the query about the hard part of writing, like giving a birth, deserves serious approach. Though you have clarified but from an experienced person like you we need still more elaboration as most of the writer feel writing depends a lot on one's mood and the conditions in which he or she lives. But that in no way can be basis for writing a good book or to become a writer with loyal audience?

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 21 months ago from Northern California, USA

      There were a ton of great questions and answers this week. As always I enjoyed reading and picked up some valuable tips. I like Sally's reference to writing and giving birth. I can relate to that question and your answer is so honest to life.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I'm sure Musiana will keep you good company. Keep her happy and she'll do the same for you. Good luck with that new job.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      m abddullah javed, that's an interesting question. I'll give it some serious thought and have an answer for you on Monday. Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Marlene, it was a great simile by Sally. I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as I did. Thank you!

    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 21 months ago

      Thank you Bill Sir. I will wait.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, m abdullah javed...my pleasure!

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 21 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Appreciated the 'preface/intro' discussion. Has always been confusing. Happy to see I've used them correctly! ;-) Great mailbag! ;-)

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 21 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Great advice to all the questions. What do you do when you've lost the desire to write?

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 21 months ago from london

      Thanks Bro.

      In the first paragraph I meant Foreword. Sorry about the mix up. Peace.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, I'm glad you found that helpful. Thanks as always for being here.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, I go feed the quail. :) I'll answer that question next Monday in a little more depth. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      No sweat, Manatita...I do it all the time.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 21 months ago from Norfolk

      Hi Billy,

      An interesting and varied episode again this week and thank you for answering my question. I hope your week is a terrific one.

      Sally.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Sally and you are welcome. Enjoy your week and Happy Crafting to you.

      bill

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      Jo Alexis-Hagues 21 months ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Bill, another exceptional Q&A session. Faith, Ann and all the writers who have submitted such useful questions, nice one!

      Bill, as always, you rock. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, this really was a great week for questions. I'm glad you felt I was up for the challenge.

      Have a superb week ahead, my friend, and thank you!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 21 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Bill,

      Well it's another great installment under your belt.

      I was pleased and a little surprised to see Janet Evanovich hit your page. I personally love her books, my husband can't stand them.

      My sister introduced me to her books after I told her how depressed I was reading Angela's Ashes. She said, "Sis, why are you reading a book about babies dying? You've got to read Janet Evanovich". I was hooked.

      I look forward to reading next week's mailbag.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Blond! I've read her for quite some time now and find her to be a very entertaining author. Beats the heck out of babies dying for sure. :)

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      Linda Lum 21 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Oh Bill, so much good stuff here. And I hope that your readers take note on how you arrange (and subtitle) your topics. You are a first-class teacher and instructor to us. Thank you so much for this weekly lesson.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 21 months ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. Excellent week for the Mailbag. Some great questions and equally right on answers. You really need to think about putting all of this into a book. It would be a great go to reference guide for aspiring writers. Have a great week.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 21 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hi Bill. I think you might be in trouble. Each week the questions become more complex. You are handling them well, but the pitchers mound seems to have moved closer to the plate and the pitches are coming faster.

    • adevwriting profile image

      Arun Dev 21 months ago from United Countries of the World

      Thanks for the answer, billybuc. It was neutral and unbiased.

    • James McV Sailor profile image

      James J Mills 21 months ago from Northern California

      Bill.... great Hub. Good questions (and answers). It always constructive for me to get the perspective of other writers on this endeavor we all seem to be addicted to.

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      Faith Reaper 21 months ago from southern USA

      Well, Darlin' ... I've been in a brain fog today with sinus/allergies and it didn't dawn on me that today is even Monday LOL ...

      I just jumped out of bed realizing I missed something of great importance and that is your overstuffed mailbag today, of all things!

      A lot of excellent questions here this Monday and you sure did cover them all well, especially the questions I posed. You have outdone yourself as I can tell you did a good bit of research to address those questions and I not realize too that mine were not really so easy as I thought! Boy, you really did clear all of that up for me, and I am glad others found them useful too. Hopefully, an editor would set us straight if we went astray, but there's no need to go astray now with your thorough answers here. Bless your heart; you are too good to us, and we love it : )

      Tons of warm, southern hugs coming your way

      Peace and blessings always

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      ArtDiva 21 months ago

      Hi, Bill! A man with a generous heart is always present in these sessions... giving away of your time and "store" of knowledge. So, my question: Are there any good online study courses for a writer to learn taking their writing skill from articles into story form?

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      Colin Garrow 21 months ago from Kinneff, Scotland

      Another collection of great answers to great questions, Bill. All good stuff, though I have to disagree with your explanation of the prologue - I think using one doesn't necessitate also having an epilogue (maybe that's a Greek tradition), but I do think prologues are useful, though they probably shouldn't be called prologues, as this can put folks off reading them. Keep on truckin'.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 21 months ago from australia

      Such good questions and answers this week Bill, quite compelling reading. I'm also relieved to have Eric and Bev on my side of the fence,. I can connect with a butterfly on speed. I float all over and eventually get things sorted in my own peculiar fashion. I have great ideas. I don't understand me. Sigh!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 21 months ago from United Kingdom

      That's for response, Bill. I've already introduced two characters so I guess I'll just let that scene play itself out. Can you use flashbacks or a character's memories to introduce people who aren't actually in the storyline but do impact it?

      BTW, I know you didn't mean me. I know I'm not stupid and we definitely now you aren't either. That's why we keep coming back. Enjoy your day.

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      Maria Jordan 21 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      As I start my new semester today, I wanted to check in with the 'writing teacher' - a meaty and informative post, dear friend.

      Hoping the weather stabilizes a bit for you and yours. Love, Maria

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Linda! I'm enjoying this as much as everyone else.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Bill. I've actually started to organize a writing book, so your suggestion is one I'm acting on as we speak.

      Be productive and enjoy your week, Bill.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I noticed that too, Mike! I think I need to go back to t-ball soon where I can handle the pitches. :) Thanks for the chuckle, Mike.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad to hear that, adevwriting. Thanks for the question.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      The same for me, James. This series is so popular and I think that's the reason. Thank you for being a part of it.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, you take care of yourself now. Chase that brain fog away and feel better soon. I'm impressed and flattered that you rose from the figurative dead to read the Mailbag. :) Thank you so much.

      blessings and hugs coming back atcha

      bill

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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Diva, my goodness, now you're testing me again. I don't know but I'm going to find out. Thanks for the challenge.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks FatBoyThin, for your input. This series is for the hearing of different perspective and opinions about writing, so I appreciate you disagreeing with me.

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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Maj, I'm laughing. Bev would say the same thing. Carry on with what you are doing; it obviously works for you.

      And thank you!

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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Zulma, the quick answer to your question is yes, but I'll borrow it for next week's mailbag as well. Thank you my non-stupid friend. :)

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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Maria my dear, always nice to see you stop by. Thank you! The weather is what it is. God doesn't check in with me for permission, though sometimes I wish He would. :)

      hugs and love,

      bill

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 21 months ago from Dubai

      Another great installment of questions and answers. HubPages is great for showcasing one's work and to interact with a great community of writers!

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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I agree completely, Vellur. It's the community that keeps me coming back. :) Actually I've never left, but you know what I mean. :) Thank you!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 21 months ago from USA

      Interesting information on genres. I could never write science fiction (can't even watch it) but some of the others are fair game.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 21 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      More good stuff, Bill! You always keep us entertained as well as educated. Have a great week, my friend!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 21 months ago from The Caribbean

      Seems that the mailbag heated up today, which means that it got more steam to drive farther ahead. I'm enjoying the ride and growing in the process!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 21 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bill it is very hard to wait a day so I can read all the comments also, but WOW what a fine group. Would you and Bev throw a party in the physical and get all these folks to show up -- I would sell my left arm to get there. I looked up "charismatic" and found your picture in the definition. Your love of your craft and your joy in sharing it shines through and leaves me blurry eyed. Thanks your good vibes are contagious.

    • Babbyii profile image

      Barb Johnson 21 months ago from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula

      Hi Bill! Welcome cooler weather changes here too. Our beautiful Fireweed has mostly all gone to seed and Termination dust (Snow) is descending Denali (Mt McKinley - " I wish they would make up their mind), lol. Having lived in AK yourself, you know this usually signals - prepare for winter. I hope it comes. Not nearly enough snow last year. Lots of property loss and lives in upheaval, and more than a few, too close for comfort calls due do fire. Wild Fires are upsetting no matter where they show up. I'm nearly speechless as I watch the news about WA & CA and other states currently experiencing wildfires.

      President Obama is here. Waiting to see what his visit at the "Glacier Conference," in Anchorage yesterday, will put into motion. I know, that's another subject altogether.

      Delighted to see another expected plethora of helpful Q&A. This community is pregnant with insightful and honest transparency so necessary to those seeking to be good writers. Transparency can be a tug of war for every writer, but our readers demand it.

      Sally's question reignited my memory of a domestic violence series I did in the 90's. The subject interviews and the articles I had to write threatened to undo me. I lasted two years. It was too heart wrenching. Projects, such as those involving social conscience, not only have the power to suck the life out of you, as Sally describes, but it's very difficult to keep your own feelings buried and out of the picture, as Ann asked about. Can't imagine writing an entire book on a social conscience subject. May as well, get your house in order and make sure your will is up to date. Thanks for helping us face the music Bill!!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 21 months ago from south Florida

      Hi, Bill, with ebooks becoming so popular with many readers - and the price is right - my take on the subject would be writing material in chunks of 20,000 words and spreading the information out in several editions. But that's my preference.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 21 months ago from Chicago Area

      Well, at least it isn't Thursday before I get to the week's Mailbag. :)

      Word Count: I've seen (and written) books of a variety of word counts. As always, it depends on what the book is and why it's being written. A 5K book can have as much, or more, impact than one of 100K. It all depends on the author's goals.

      But one thing's for sure. I don't think you can arbitrarily slice-and-dice a book into word count pieces like you would, say, a batch of cookies... unless the writing is so bland and monotonous that it doesn't matter how you cut it. In that case, I'll take the cookies instead.

      That being said, I usually tell the authors I work with for business nonfiction to initially target 25K words for a short, introductory book that helps promote business. Many newbie authors in this arena have no idea how much to write and at least it gives them a tangible initial goal.

      Thanks for the usual insight and fun! Have a great week!

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 21 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Congratulations on, your more than deserved, Hubbie award.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Flourish, I understand. I could never write romance. :) Thanks, as always, for being here.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I try my best, Bill. Thank you very much.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Dora, it was a great week for questions...no doubt about that. Thank you for being here again.

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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww, Eric, thank you so very much. I don't know if anyone would show up at that party you suggested, but it's something to think about and dream. :) I feel the same way about your weekly sermons so thank you.

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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Babby, welcome back and my goodness, what a detailed and insightful comment from Alaska today. Thank you for all of your thoughts. These wildfires here are finally scaling back, thank goodness. At least they are approaching 50% detainment now so that's good. As for social issues, I tend to stay away from them now. They simply took to much out of me, and that was just writing about them. I can't imagine actually working in that industry.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      drbj, I see both sides of it for sure...thanks for stating your preference.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Mike, thank you, and congratulations to you as well. Well deserved on your end, Mr. Fiction Writer!!!!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Heidi, you make me laugh. You have a wicked sense of humor and I'm sure you've been told that before. You would be fun to work with.

      Thank you my friend and Happy Tuesday to you.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 21 months ago from southern USA

      CONGRATS AGAIN, DEAR BILL, FOR WINNING A WELL-DESERVED HUBBIE AWARD AGAIN FOR BEST ALL-AROUND HUBBER!

      Hugs and much love

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      Author

      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww, thanks Faith. I'm just grateful all of you let me hang with the big kids. :) I appreciate you taking the time to write this.

      blessings and hugs always

      bill

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 21 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Proud of you Bill...congratulations on both of your Hubbie awards. Love, Maria

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 21 months ago from southern USA

      Woo Hoo ... MOST HELPFUL HUBBER TOO : ) Wow, double blessings for you, dear Bill! Well-deserved as well.

      Hugs and blessings always

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Maria. I hang with a great group of friends. I appreciate you so very much.

      love,

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you again Faith! I couldn't have done it without you, dear friend.

      hugs always

      bill

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 21 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing the useful suggestions and congratulations on your Hubbie awards, Bill!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alicia! I appreciate it.

    • social thoughts profile image

      social thoughts 21 months ago from New Jersey

      Another great mix of questions! I learned some new things, so thank you, as always! I remember when I read more books with prefaces and such, in college, wondering "What is the difference between these things?"

      As for the multiple character introductions, the rule of thumb you've heard of was something I heard as well; however, I swear I also read a short story in college that took place during a dinner party, and you're constantly being introduced to someone new. It was dreadfully overwhelming! Does this sound familiar?

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana Zakinov 21 months ago from California

      Maybe writing a book is like giving birth, but what if you've co-written a book with 3 other people, then what's it like? ;)

      And congrats on your new Hubbie awards Bill!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 21 months ago from south Florida

      All-around best Hub writer is exactly the perfect title for you, Bill ... as long as it doesn't describe your physical profile.

      Congratulations and salutations.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 21 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      yes! Congratulations Bro! You most definitely deserve your award!

      Congratulations Bro! You most definitely deserve your award!

      I KNEW you'd win

      I KNEW you'd win!

      What??

      What??

      Get that goofy look off your face!

      Get that goofy look off your face!

      Double awards.....double Congrats....double comments

      Double awards......Doub

      Aw NUTS.!......I'm happy for you!!! You make me proud!

    • Babbyii profile image

      Barb Johnson 21 months ago from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula

      Congratulations on your Hubbie Awards Bill!!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 21 months ago from sunny Florida

      Just stopping by bill to say KUDOS Congrats and HuGs and Quiches.....

      You done good!!!!

      Many Angels are winging their way once again to you ps

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 21 months ago from Shelton

      100 things to do before I finish my week and your mail bag is one of them.. Congrats on your tops... I tip my hat to you sir.. .

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Kailey, the short story doesn't sound familiar but the circumstances do. Once I'm overwhelmed by a book I shut down completely....lesson learned as a writer.

      Thanks my loyal friend.

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      Author

      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Kalinin, I doubt I'll ever know the feeling of co-writing a book, so I wouldn't even venture an answer. Thank you for your kind words about the award.

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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      drbj, congrats on your Hubbie as well...good things happen to those who persevere...and those who care about others I might add. Thank you!

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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww, thanks Sis! I couldn't have done it without my sister's support.

      Awww, thanks Sis! I couldn't have done it without my sister's support.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Babby! I happen to know some very cool people on this site.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you PS! I was very surprised this year, having cut back so much on my writing on HP. I am very appreciative, and those appreciations are winging their way to you, with love and blessings.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Frank, you're down to 99 so a job well done. Thank you my friend.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 21 months ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi Bill, congratulations on winning a hubbie award! It's great to see such a good guy appreciated!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Dolores, I so appreciate that. Thank you kind lady.

    • Chriswillman90 profile image

      Krzysztof Willman 21 months ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      Congrats on the Hubbie award, much deserved, and another very helpful mailbag. I feel myself growing as a writer when I read about other writers thoughts and inquisitions. Great job again!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 21 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Interesting questions and answers and I enjoyed going through as always.

      Congratulations on winning the Hubbie award and I feel honoured to follow you.

      Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Chris. I love that you feel yourself growing as a writer....excellent!!!!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      ChitrangadaSharan, thank you so much. The honor is all mine, my friend.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 20 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Superb advice as always Bill! No wonder you won!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 20 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Will, thank you sir. I think I won because I hang with the cool kids. :)

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 20 months ago from Texas

      Bill, another have to have in my favorites, great information.

      Have a Blessed weekend.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 20 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      Really good stuff here. I find myself just like Eric (usually its that I need to get back to my paying job)

      I use my phone to 'write on the go' as I can jot down a line or two and then put it together at the end of the week. I gind it helps me with my thoughts and I cam see if I covered 'all the bases' but its not easy!

      Really enjoyed the hub

      Lawrence

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 20 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad, Shyron. Thank you my friend, and blessings always.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 20 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for sharing that, Lawrence. It helps us all to hear the process other writers use.

      I'll be by to see your latest soon.

      bill

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 20 months ago from Oklahoma

      Just getting back from a beach somewhere, so I was late getting to my weekly mailbag fix.

      Great installment.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 20 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A worthy read and I don't doubt what I read from you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 20 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Larry. I hope you had a great time at the beach. Sounds weird to say that,talking about Oklahoma. Lake, right? :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 20 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Well I appreciate that, DDE. I may not always be correct but I try to be.

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