Tag Archives: Paragraph

ASK JASON ANYTHING: The Bad Writer/Good Friend dilemma

It’s a writer’s job to know a little bit about everything, and to thoroughly research anything he doesn’t know. ASK JASON ANYTHING is your opportunity to challenge Jason with a question of any kind, whether it’s scientific or religious, financial or social, political, historical. It can be something you already know, or something you’re genuinely curious to learn. You can ask trivia or knowledge or advice, and every Thursday, Jason will do his best to answer. (Read more at www.jasonrpeters.com.)


My relative wants to be a writer, and she keeps giving me her work to read. It’s AWFUL. What should I do?

It’s never easy to criticize someone you like. Or at least, someone whose feelings you don’t want to hurt, whether you like them or not. Family connections are the most intricate, but even an acquaintance can trap you with those dreaded five words:

Tell me what you think.

This can become the cerebral version of “Does this make me look fat?”

For the individual who is both kind and honest, there is, unfortunately, no right answer.

But there are a few charitable approaches that tap-dance with the “wrong” answer:

You suck. Read More →

Time for another preview.

I’m including the first scene again because it has been revised slightly to make the first paragraph (hopefully) a stronger hook.

My frustration with the second scene is that I was sorely tempted over and over again to rush through the dialog, because that’s the meat of the story. Yet each time I read it I find it lacking details; what are these guys wearing? Where are they? What are they doing? What time of day is it?

And every time I try to include those details, I feel that the pacing is becoming horribly bogged down. Maybe you guys can help.


The first sign of war was a single rider approaching Mekli’s camp, kicking up clouds of dust in its wake. Children paused to watch, while most of the adults feigned disinterest. Hundreds of tents huddled against the desert floor, dying campfires serving as loci for several families, casting large shadows in the failing light. Pots and clothes hung from lines stretched across the open.

Mekli walked beyond the boundary of his camp, duty-bound to receive the rider first and anxious to keep his conversation private. Good news was never delivered with urgency; this rider’s haste was an ill omen.

The rider arrived and dismounted smoothly. If his garments had once held color, it had faded in the sand and sun. He approached Mekli with a sure step despite his long ride. Mekli envied his youth.

“Honored Father,” the rider said with a bow, which Mekli returned.

“Tell me your name, messenger,” Mekli invited.

“I am called Viktin, of the Tektimti tribe.”

“You are welcomed here, Viktin. May our fires be home to you. But you did not come here to exchange formalities with an old man.”

“No,” Viktin admitted. “The Asoki prepare for war.”

“The Asoki always war,” Mekli said dismissively.

“No, Honored Father. Their tribes are united now. They mean to conquer us next.”

Mekli chewed the inside of his lip, considering. It was hard to imagine Asoko unified.

“Tell me everything,” he said.


As usual, Azai’s mind was impossible to read. Damek strained to perceive his brother’s thoughts, but the effort was futile.

“Give it up,” Azai advised. “You aren’t strong enough and you never will be.”

Azai was probably right. But Damek didn’t need the Sight to know his elder brother was excited.

“Something’s on your mind,” Damek said. “Even if I can’t tell what.”

Azai face lit with a grin, and he gave his white headband an unconscious tug.

“Honor and glory, little brother. We’re about to take our true place in the world.” He stopped pacing and sat across the campfire from Damek.

“Our true place?”

“As heroes,” Azai clarified, turning abruptly serious.

Damek snorted. “Heroes?”

“That’s right. The Asoki finally mean to conquer us.”

“I’ve heard the rumors,” Damek said. “I suppose you plan to become a great warrior?”

“Better,” Azai said. “You and I are going to stop their whole army.”

“A poor joke, Azai.”

“Little brother,” Azai said, “I have never been more serious in my life.”

Halfway to draftsville

percent-761534By the initial wordcount goal, Woman’s Best Friend is 50% done. And at least half of what’s written so far is already in third revision, because each time I load a story, I can’t help rereading the preceding portions to get back into it’s rhythm, pace, and setting. And when I reread any draft, I can’t help making revisions, most often deleting words.

(Actually it can be quite depressing at first, because the wordcount may drop by a sizeable margin before I get to the bottom of the document to begin adding new content.)

I didn’t write that much last night due to a severe headache, but I’m also proud to say I didn’t play much either. I just didn’t do much of anything.

By the time I went to bed, the remaining scenes kept playing in my head and I couldn’t keep myself from composing the words to tell them.

It’s a fair bet this story will be completed by the weekend, probably by Friday or at the latest, Saturday morning. I’ve hit the groove, man, and the more I work on it, the easier it gets.

Look for a preview of the story soon.

writersmarketMegan brought the Writer’s Market 2009 home for me last night. A little late on my part; like cars for the following year, these actually come out several months before the year in question. Better late than never.

The “bad query” examples are hilarious. To my delight, my favorite from previous years was included in this year’s edition. This particular writer stated he’d spent his lifetime chained to his desk in the basement working on an epic story and, “it can be yours!” The editors, who usually give helpful asides (both for the good query examples and bad) simply wrote, “I’m at a loss for words” in the margin beside that paragraph.

That writer also claimed he was selling a “short story novel” and the editor wanted to know which was it: A short story, or a novel?

Sometimes it scares me that in “get published” guides, writers are advised to know as much about the publishing industry as about their craft. (I’m not a business analyst, I’m a writer, fo’shizzle?) But when I see glaring mistakes like that, it encourages me to think that simply being professional and precise are already big steps in the right direction.

Let us hope so. Looks like I’ll be sending another submission soon.