Answer to my Question

Comments: 7

(What do Mormons Believe:

We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

Articles of Faith
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)


First, I'm sure all my faithful readers (all 2 or 3 of you) are just dying to know the answer to my question in my previous posting. That being, when was Jesus born?

The hint I gave, plus the one Tristi added (she's on the same wavelength as I) should have led you to the idea that Jesus was not born in the winter (December 25th). Tristi's hint should have led you to thinking "Spring," when lambs are being born. Yes, I truly believe Jesus was born in the springtime, not the winter.

Let me give you some thoughts that should lead you to a similar conclusion.

I heard an interesting talk last Sunday in church given by our Bishop. In it, he spoke of astronomers who were asked to turn the astronomical clock back to the time of His birth. When they did this, they found Jupiter was the closest to the earth that it ever had been. So close, it was extremely bright. When asked what date it was the absolute brightest, they said early April. Could that have been the Star of Bethlehem? He also mentioned the thoughts of some astrologers, who were asked their thoughts. They said Jupiter was in the constellation Ares. That was a sign that s great king had been born. Interesting.

I was also talking to a good friend of mine (I just added his blog to my list of favorites, "Basically Speaking"). He is my daughter's father-in-law, and a very knowledgeable man when it comes to gospel issues. He said to think of the symbolism surrounding Christ's birth. God often uses symbolism, parallelisms, and types to emphasize the importance of special events. For example, Abraham being asked to sacrifice his “only” son, Isaac, was a parallel or type of God the Father having to sacrifice his “only begotten” son, Jesus. So, when Jesus was born, it would be fitting if he were born during some significant event. What is the most significant event in Jewry, especially in the springtime? The Passover. Jesus being born during Passover would be a symbol of His coming sacrifice which was also held during Passover, thirty-three years later. Was he crucified on his birthday? An interesting thought. I’ll explore that idea next.

However, I feel the most authoritative source for when Jesus was born is from the Word of God himself. Our Heavenly Father revealed to the prophet Joseph Smith that Jesus was indeed born in the early spring, even April 6. Looking back through biblical history, that date (also known as Abib 15 in the scriptures) is highly significant. It is believed that is the day Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt. It’s the day Adam was expelled from the Garden of Eden. I think there are probably a few other parallel dates of significance but I can’t recall them at this time. If anyone of you can think of them, please feel free to add them. However, the most significant world events that happened on this date are Jesus’ birth, and His crucifixion. Yes, He was crucified on His birthday, another symbolism of his divinity.
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About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Friday, December 28, 2007

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(What do Mormons Believe:

We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

Articles of Faith
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)


To all my faithful readers (all 2 or 3 of you), I want to wish you a very happy and merry Christmas and a wonderful and prosperous (and should I add, published?) New Year.

Note I did not say "happy holidays," or "seasons greetings," or any other of those politically correct phrases. With the possible exception of Hannaka, which I believe Christians can also celebrate, alongside our Jewish brothers and sisters, Jesus is the reason for the season. So I hope we will all remember the birth of Jesus Christ on this most special and wonderful of holidays.

Speaking of the birth of our Savior, how many of my faithful readers know when Jesus was actually born? Was it in the deep of winter as we now celebrate it? Was it actually on December 25th? I'd like to get your feelings about that. As a clue, think: shepards watching over their flocks by night.
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(What do Mormons Believe:
We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.
Second Article of Faith
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)

Some fellow writers suggested a few more words to avoid. I'm not sure I agree with all of them, but here are what they suggested:

  • eyes
  • actually
  • just
  • really
  • smiled
  • that
  • wonder
  • believe
  • imagine
  • thought
  • dream
  • seem
  • went
  • so
  • only
  • well
  • like
  • and
  • but
  • then
  • laughed
  • said???
  • had
  • very
  • even
  • some
  • get
  • got
  • started
  • begin
  • began
  • about
  • still
  • down
  • up
  • most "-ing" words
I can see how most of these words can be mis-used, even over-used, but a lot of these are, I believe, essential and cannot be eliminated completely. The trick is to search for these words and see whether the prose would be stronger without them, or by reworking the phrase or sentence containing these words.
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(Since there's been so much talk about what Mormons believe lately, I thought it might be helpful for me to post some of their beliefs so you can judge for yourselves.

We Believe in God the eternal Father, and in Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost
Articles of Faith,
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)


My critique group, Writers Pen, at the Authors by Design writers forum, has been trying to get me to see how I overuse some words for a long time. I think I finally got the message and am going through my MS to find some of these words and replace them with more descriptive, or more appropriate words. I'm not sure I have them all. So far the words I'm searching for are the following:
  • Walk
  • Turn
  • look

Can anyone else think of other often over-used words to add to that list?
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There's an interesting topic being bantied about at another writer's forum regarding what are our responsibilities as writers, especially if we write for children and young adults. I thought maybe we could explore that issue here as well.

First, let me say that for children and young adults, I think authors bear more responsibility to be moral in our writing than writers of adult stuff. Now, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t write about edgy issues where moral decisions have to be made by the characters, or where kids get into trouble through immoral sex (sex out of wedlock), drugs, etc.

I think kids are struggling to find purpose and values in their lives. They want and need good role models. Adult readers don't usually care as much.

That said, I find it interesting that there seems to be a lot more immoral behavior being displayed in YA novels than there is in adult novels. At least that’s my observation.

I am of the belief that good fiction "mimics" reality. It does not have to display reality. I do not believe we necessarily need to describe everything in graphic detail to give a sense of reality.

I know Ellen will disagree with me somewhat on this issue, and I do not mean this as an indictment of her novels (which I think are great by the way – though not what I would write) but I'm of the belief that vulgarity and graphic sex are never necessary. These things can be eluded to, or "mimicked" without actually describing them in detail.

I believe we have a responsibility to our youth to be the examples for them to look up to. We should be examples of a better way, so to speak, and examples of morality. We are, after all, the adults here. I don't think we need to stoop to the level of vulgar kids who speak using fowl language and do immoral deeds. I think if we do display these things in our writing, kids get the sense that it must be okay. So-and-so (writer) talked that way.

I think we can allude to those things without describing them. Like I said, fiction only mimics reality.

I used to love Judy Blum's writing. She wrote some wonderful middle grade books that my kids loved, and I thought were cute. They told great stories and taught great morals. So, when she came out with a young adult novel, I can't recall the title of it, I was excited to read it – until I got about a quarter of the way through it. She began describing the sex act in vivid detail, making immoral (out of wedlock) sex sound wonderful. She made it appear as though sex for the main character was not only okay, but the best thing she could do with her life at that point. I didn't finish the book, it was too horrid, so the final outcome could be different that what I have described. I don't know. I didn't care to read any further. I almost complained to the library that it was borderline pornography, if not pornographic outright.

That, to me, is not what I could consider writing responsibly for children. I think we, as adults, have the responsibility to be the examples, not stoop to the level of those who would tear them down.
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Recently, a discussion came up in my critique group, Writer's Pen, asking the difference between Classic Literature, vs. Literary and Mainstream Literature. In one of my rare moments of genius, or probably intelligence would be the better descriptor, I said the following. If you have any further ideas to add, please leave me a comment.

"classics" are those books which described the "human condition" of their times and, in a real way, still do. Human nature, as enlightened as we think we are, has not changed much over the span of time. Read the Bible and you'll find the same conditions in Genesis as we have today. Yes, we don't live in tents any longer, we have better sanitation, we eat a more wholesome diet (sometimes), etc., but the basic human natures described in the Bible still exist today, i.e. envy, pride, jealousy, greed, lust for power, etc. "Classic" literature does the same thing, and that, I think, is the appeal of these wonderful (if sometimes boring due to outmoded literary styles) books.

So-called "literary" works describe this "human condition" probably better than most, but usually do it to the exclusion of plot or story line.

That, to me, is the main difference between "literary" and "mainstream" novels, not the difference between "classic" and "literary." Both "literary" and "mainstream" can become "classics." Falkner and Hemingway, to me, are more literary, whereas Melville, Hawthorne (in spite of this thick prose), and Dickens, etc., are more mainstream, who's works have become "classics" in spite of the literary elite of their day. Both kinds of works can and often do describe the "human condition" in such a way as to appeal to readers, though, in my mind, the more mainstream the book is, the more popular it tends to become, especially if it captures the "human condition" accurately and sympathetically in a way that encourages change.

If you're interested in other opinions, you can read, and/or participate in, the rest of the discussion. Click on this link:

Hmm. I tried the link and couldn't get it to work. So, go to the Authors by Design web site that I have listed on my side bar. You'll find it under the LEISURE LOUNGE section.

Now, maybe you can use that as a link. I tried it and it worked. Oh well. I'll never understand computers and the Internet.
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I've been doing some surfing for good writers sites that I can eventually use to create buzz about my upcoming books. I've found a few that seem to have promise. seens to be an active forum with lots of good conversation going on.

I also like the Children's Writers and Illustrators site. I've met several good published authors there, and I am also aware that agents and publishers frequent that site as well.

One I just found the other day, however is Query Tracker. I'll put a link to it on my side bar. The founder, Patrick McDonald, has put together a neat way to track our queries from when you send it out to when you get either rejected or accepted. It also has the names and addresses of most agents and publishers, by genre, and tracks their acceptance rates so we would-be authors can decide if they are a good match or not. Associated with this site, he also has a pretty active forum with lots of people posting and answering. I think this could also be a great place to generate buzz.

Check these sites out. They're on my side bar.
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I recently finished reading "The Firm," by John Grisham, so I thought I'd give you my thoughts about it.

Overall, it's a great book. Full of suspense from page one through the end - well, the last chapter is a bit of a come down, but it still works. It's a denoument, or a wrap-up scene.

The book begins with the main character right up front, unlike some of Grisham's other books where you can't figure out who the MC is until chapter 4 or 5. Grisham does a masterful job of making what seems like a boring legal profession sound exciting, at least for the MC who is caught up in a deadly plot from page one. Grisham, then has the MC and his wife go through wild chase scenes through several chapters where he is only one step ahead of his would-be assassins. I've found is typical of Grisham's style. Still, the MC's resourcefulness and talents comes through to save himself and his wife from the conspirator’s plans to eliminate him.

Overall, it’s a great and exciting read from beginning to end, and I highly recommend it.
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I just got meme'd. I have no idea what that means, but according to Tony Rapino, who meme'd me, you're supposed to do the following:

Make a list of five strengths that you possess as a writer/artist. It's not really bragging, it's an honest assessment (forced upon you by this darn meme). Please resist the urge to enumerate your weaknesses, or even mention them in contrast to each strong point you list. Tag four other writers or artists whom you'd like to see share their strengths.

Hmm. Five strengths. This could be tough as anything I say could be taken as bragging. But in all honesty I'll do my best to be honest, not bragging.

I think one of my best writing qualities is the way I write dialogue. I've had many people tell me that is sounds "real." Even when I write dialects, such as Mexican or Italian, even crude English, my readers tell me they feel they are hearing the character's speach.

I probably don't do enough of this, but I've had several people tell me I could write horror. I don't like to write in that genre, but maybe I might try it someday. Still, when I write dark descriptions, with lots of dark mood settings, I think my readers can feel the tension and fear without being overwhelmed by it.

Some of you know that I've been writing for several years (try more than 20). I haven't sold anything yet, but I feel I'm still learning my craft. I only write a few hours each month. That's all the time I can find to devote to my craft. But I haven't given up. I'm writing two novels at the same time, well actualy just revising one of them, and eventually I know they will both sell someday. Maybe I'll be dead by then, who knows, LOL.

Much like Tony said in his blog, I too think it takes a lot of courage to keep sending my novel ideas to agents and editors, knowing I'll probably be rejected. I've gotten more than 85 rejection slips from "The Bridge Beckons," (TBB) now renamed "Sweet Revenge" (SR). After the 85th, which was a request for a partial, I decided TBB needed a major overhaul and SR was born. I fully intend to start sending SR out sometime early next year (2008), and I'll start the rejection routine all over.

Thick Skin
I've had so many criticisms of TBB and now SR, that I've grown a thick skin. Negative comments don't bother me. In fact I encourage them as I feel I learn more from the negative comments (assuming they're helpful) than I do with "Oh, how wonderful this is." BARF!!!

Okay, that's five. Now I'll have to decide who to send this to. Keep watching your blog sites. If you're a winner, it will be announced there.
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I thought I might start posting my take on some of the books I read. These are just my opinions, and others may well disagree with me.

I just finished reading “True Believer” by Nicholas Sparks. I love the way Sparks writes. He is very descriptive, especially of emotions, and expresses well how men feel in romantic relationships. He also writes very compelling stories with usually sound plots. My favorite of his is “A Walk to Remember.” I thought it was exceptionally well written and touching. I could feel for Landon Carter as he struggled to not fall in love with Jamie Sullivan, but ends up doing so anyway. I wish I could write like that. My second favorite was, I think, his first novel, “The Notebook.” I loved the romantic way he had of communicating Noah Calhoun’s love for his elderly and senile wife.

I also liked, “True Believer” but felt I had to suspend belief and logic to follow along. I felt the reason for Jeremy Marsh’s journey to the small southern town of Boone Creek is not as well developed as it could be. The mystery of the lights in the cemetery is not as much a mystery as I would have liked. He could have made it much spookier than he did. But most troubling is how quickly Jeremy and his romantic interest, Lexie Darnell fall in love. They only know each other for two days and they’re already in the sack together, expressing true love. This is not realistic. Love is not something you “fall” into whether it be two days, a week, or even a month. Love is something you “grow” into as two people share life’s experiences. A weekend fling in the sack cannot develop the kinds of feeling that will last throughout a lifetime, or especially eternity.

Sparks describes this same kind of “love” in most of his books. I think the only realistic love he wrote about was in his book “A Walk to Remember.” There, Landon Carter, the MC, struggles with his feelings for Jamie Sullivan over a several month period of time, and only realizes he is in love with her at the end, when she is nearing death. This, to me, is much more realistic. I wish Sparks would be more realistic with all his characters as they fall in love. He’s a gifted writer. I don’t feel he needs to stoop to that kind of commercialism to sell his books.

One other thing that bothers me about his books. In nearly every book he wrote, the hero and heroine end up in the sack together as if that’s how they fall in love, or at least that’s the only way they know how to express their love. True love does not require sex to express itself. True love is an emotion, a feeling, a desire to be together forever. Sex is part of that, but should only be done in marriage, even in novels. True love can be expressed by other means than through sex, and I wish more writers would find those other means to express the love between their characters and let us, their readers, have a more realistic view of how love develops.

In this day, when illicit sex seems to permeate our entire existence, it would be nice for writers to clean up their novels so people could read something clean and wholesome for a change. Something I would be proud to have my children read. Like I said, Sparks is a gifted writer. I wish I had half as much talent. He claims to be a Christian. So, why can’t he, we, and other writes, write novels with Christian values? I’m not talking about writing for the “Christian” market. Just write it with clean, moral values in mind.
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by the comments from a couple of my critique group members. I usually don't want to hear things like "this is good," or "this is so nice," or "I can't wait to read more." Those are usually plaudits that don't help me know what's wrong with a piece. My critique group members know this, so when I got the following comments about my latest chapter of GERTA! from a couple of my fellow members, I was really taken back.

Here's what they said:

WOW PAUL... I am just blown away. This chapter just made me think of really great classic books. I do not find much to crit. Keep going, man. This is awesome . This just reminds me of a scene from a classic movie like the Waltons. Kim


Pretty neat, huh?
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My vacation was waaaaay tooooooo short. My wife and I drove from Utah to Lincoln, Nebraska to visit our daughter and her family. She has two of the custest kids anywhere - and no, your grandkids (assuming you're old enough) don't even come close. Sorry. I missed them already as soon as we said good-bye.

Now, I'm back at work, struggling to catch up with all the back-logged work, and resuming my writing, if I ever find a free moment.

Okay, so here's what I'm planning. I will only give my critique group those chapters of "Sweet Revenge" that have a lot of changes in them. I think I'm getting the "voice" thing finally, so I don't need everything reworked. I'm doing this because I want to move on and get this book back into the marketplace. Then, I can devote my time to "GERTA!" and other stories that are running through my mind - one being a historical novel set around 1910.

That one has been on my mind for the past 20 years but I haven't done it yet because I wanted to learn the craft of novel writing first. I'm hoping it will be a serious adult novel, not just a YA or a MG story. It will be totally set in my small hometown of Port Costa, California. I did a lot of research into the fascinating history of that town when I was in high school and college and there's got to be some great stories that can be written in that setting. Wish me luck.
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Hey, faithful followers of my blog (I think there are about 3 of you now. It's growing, LOL),

I'll be on vacation starting tomorrow, Aug. 17 thru the 30th. In the meantime, if you want to go through some of my old postings and comment, feel free to do so and I'll try to respond when I get back.

Have fun,
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For all my faithful readers, I thought I'd ask you the question, when do you find time to write?

I struggle to find just 15 minutes a few times a week to write. I do it during my lunch breaks, between critquing others' writings from my critique group. My wife keeps asking me, "How long is this book going to take to write? It seems you've been working on it forever." To which I laugh. I'd love to work on it in the evenings, but there's always the ever-present honey-dos waiting for me when I get home. So, the other day, she actually told me she thought I should work on it before I go to bed every evening. That was four days ago and I haven't been able to squeeze it in yet.

So, what's your schedule?
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I think one of the main problems I see with people starting to write a novel, is that they don't watch for gaps in logic. Somewhere, out of the blue, a gun appears in the final chapter and the bad guy tries to use it to kill the good guy. Or worse, is a good guy who has never held a gun before, wiping out a whole brigade of highly trained infantrymen with a six-shooter, while never being hit once by their sharp-shooting bad guys, then runs 10 miles with a broken leg, to a get-away airplane and flies away, stumbling at the controls because he's never flown a plane before. Now, these things can be done. I’m not saying they can’t, but the writer better make me believe it’s possible by setting up some rational reason that it’s possible somewhere near the beginning of the novel.

In short, make sure everything you write makes sense. Even if the story is a fantasy or science fiction, it has to have some element in logic or you'll lose your reader.
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What about being politically correct or PC? I’m not talking about purposely offending someone, or a group of someones (I know that’s not a proper word, so you don’t have to criticize me for using it). But, I know the PC police love to take people, authors especially, to task over subject matters they have deemed to be offensive.

However, I believe being PC is not always being truthful. I’m not one for being offensive, but to sugar coat, or revise, history or some social issue for the sake of being PC, can be academically and/or morally dishonest. Personally, I think people who are offended so easily need to develop a thicker skin.

For instance, people talked differently in 1860 than they do today. In those days, black people were called Negroes or worse. Today, that term could land a writer in the morgue, figuratively speaking, and maybe even literally. The way people used to talk is a fact. There’s nothing we today can do about that. So, why do we have to be historical revisionists just because someone has deemed an expression, or a word to not be PC? If I ever write a novel set in the early days of this country, I would not hesitate to use the terms used during those days.

In my original version of “Bridgetown High,” I had a scene in which the antagonist, Jeff Marino, and his scummy friends, Bobby Baker and Alan Benaducci, go on a tirade, calling blacks Niggers, and worse (and I hope I didn’t offend someone by using that term here). I wasn’t calling them that. It was my characters who are total scum bags and delinquents that were calling them that. The scene is not part of “Sweet Revenge” (the revision of “Bridgetown High”), at least not for now, but only because the I needed to cut somewhere to bring the novel down to the proper size to attract an agent, not because I was afraid of offending someone. I may consider putting it into “Sweet Revenge.” I haven’t decided yet.

Ultimately, I feel an author has the right to use whatever language he/she determines is appropriate for the genre and age group he/she is writing for. Fiction writing is an art. We writers are mimicking reality, but to do so we often need to use whatever language and wording necessary to paint the pictures we paint with our words, and at times that includes words that are unpleasant. I feel to alter a work for the sake of being PC is being intellectually dishonest.

Now, for my disclaimer, and this will sound contradictory.

I will never use the infamous “F” word in my writing. I draw the line there. Not because I’m concerned about being PC, but because of decency. I do not feel we writers need to use vulgarity to paint an accurate portrait of a fictional, or even a real person, or to achieve “shock” value as some writers claim. There are other ways to achieve this without lowering our moral standards. I think of this as a moral issue, not a PC issue.
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When I began my writing career (if you can call it that at this point) I have to admit I was confused about when to use "was" or "were." I had always written "was" in such sentences as "if it was me, I'd do such and such." Now, I know that's wrong. It should read "if it were me, ...."

I've had to learn the difference. Someone once tried to explain it to me.

Use "was" when it is a statement of fact, as in "the bell tower 'was' 120 feet tall."

Use "were" when the fact has not been determined. "If he 'were' to climb the bell tower, he would find it 'was' 120 feet tall."

Clear as mud?
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Those of you who have been following my writing career, or lack there of, will probably remember that I’ve been struggling for a time, now, with the subject of “voice.” I’ve had two or three agents who have told me they didn’t think my “voice” was strong enough in my old novel “The Bridge Beckons.” So, now, with my latest novels, “GERTA!” and “Sweet Revenge,” I’ve decided I need to figure out what I’m doing wrong.

Actually, most people who have read parts of “GERTA!” have commented that my “voice” in that book is great. But then, it’s written in first person, and I think that’s key to solving my problem. “The Bridge Beckons” was written in limited third person.

A lot of you, and others, have sent me links to articles that have tried to explain “voice” to me, but few of them really told me much more than the difference between first person and third person points of view. Mind you, I do appreciate the help, and even more your concern. However, more than anything I think what has helped me is writing examples some of you have given me, taking the first chapter of my latest novel “Sweet Revenge,” and rewriting it for me as an example of how it could be better. One writer also recommended I read “Ender’s Game,” by Orson Scott Card. It is supposed to be a textbook in how to write third person POV with strong “voice.”

I read that book, and though it is science fiction, which I am not fond of reading, I did enjoy the book, somewhat, but more, I think between that and the rewrites of my chapter, I’ve begun to understand what makes for strong voice in third person.

First, let me say that rewriting that chapter in first person helped some, but much of the strong voice was lost as soon as I re-translated it back to third person. People still complained that it seemed as though they were viewing the main character from a distance through a telescope.

So, it was back to the proverbial drawing board. I struggled with the concept until I reexamined the rewrites of my opening scene and how Orson Scott Card did it in his book. Now, finally, I think I’m beginning to get it. I know, I’m pretty dense, but once I get something it becomes internalized, so for my friends who are part of my critique group “The Writer’s Pen,” and my friends at “Razor’s Edge Writers,” you can expect me to be commenting on this from time to time.

Basically, let’s say the difference in third person with weak versus strong voice is in the way the character thinks and talks. For example:

BAD EXAMPLE: John didn’t like school. Staring out his front room picture window at the birds in the trees, he realized they were chatting noisily, chasing each other around, a lot like he did to girls on the playground at school. Maybe on second through, school is not all that bad, he thought.

GOOD (BETTER?) EXAMPLE: I hate school, John mused as he stared out his front room picture window. A sparrow, chattering and jumping from branch to branch in the old elm tree caught his eye. Soon another, then another, scampered about, the female birds being chased by the males. He thought of the girls he liked to chase on the playground. Maybe school isn’t all that bad.

I don’t know if these off-the-top-of-my-head examples are good ones or not. The idea is that we need to see what the POV character sees and feel what he feels for as long as his POV is current.

More later, as I try to define it better in my own mind.
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... I will be trying out new looks for my blog site over the next few weeks. Let me know what you like, if you like any of the looks. Next, I need to figure out how to customize it by adding background photos, foreground photos, examples of my writing, etc.

Any takers?
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A few days ago, I was asked why I don't write short stories so I can become "known" in the publishing world.

First let me say, I doubt I could write a decent short if my life depended on it. Short stories are a lot more difficult harder to write. Short stories require new plot lines and new characters for every one you write. You also have to condense the story line into a few pages at most, limiting character development, and putting a real strain on the overall story development.

I also think, if I were to become a short story writer, it may make it more difficult to morf back into a novel writer. There's a different dicipline required for each form.

A short story writer gets a reward quickly, when he/she finishes the story, then again if and when the story sells. For a novel writer, that exhiliration of having finished the project is slow in coming and the thrill of a sale even slower. But the rewards of making a sale with a novel are FAR greater than any short story writer can ever hope to achieve, unless he/she has sold a few novels first and the shorts can be combined into an anthology.

Personally, I don't have time to mess with shorts. I have two novels nearing salability. Why should I take the time to write stuff that probably won't get published anyway, and will take away from my work on my novels?

I realize, some people will disagree with me, but that's the way I see it.
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Earlier today, I was asked how I find time to write with my busy schedule. He also asked my opinion regarding 1st person POV versus 3rd person POV. Here are my responses:


Sitting down (butt in chair, so to speak) at regular periods to write a novel has never been something I've been able to do. My work schedule and family responsibilities have never allowed it. So, I work on my novels sporadically, whenever I get a chance, and often the muse is just not there. At times I’ve had to just do it anyway. Having to post 2 to 4 chapters per month on a critique board helps force me.

I'm not advocating that approach, just complaining that I'm stuck in a rut of wishing I could have a certain, dedicated writing time, but not being able. Still, I'm proof that it can work, assuming you're willing to take 20 years to complete your first novel like I've done with "Sweet Revenge." I have to admit, however my second novel, "GRETA!", is going a lot faster. I’m about 5 or 6 chapters from finishing it, and I’ve already written the last chapter.

As for first person versus third, that's a tough one. Both POVs have their pluses and minuses. It depends on how much you need to get into the head of the main character, and can you do that in third person? In my opinion, I think you can, but it's a lot harder to truly make the reader feel what the main character is feeling in third person. I wrote "Sweet Revenge" in third person because I felt a need to get into the heads of several of the characters, including the antagonist. I'm writing "GRETA!” in first person because I didn't feel the need to get into anyone else's head. The protagonist is the only one I need to express what I'm trying to get across.

Just as a side note: I posted the first few chapters of "GRETA!" on a message board and just got a great compliment from a guy who just read it. It sounded true to him, and he could feel how some kids feel about the under-privileged. I think first person is working well here.

However, with “Sweet Revenge” the main comments I’ve gotten (from agents) is that they did not like my narrative voice. Hmm. That means third person isn’t working as well as I’d like. It’s a lot more difficult to get into the heads of third person characters. Still, I do not think it is impossible. Just difficult.
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It was exhilerating!!! I finally wrote the last chapter of GRETA! I even felt emotional as I wrote that final scene.

Now, all I have to do is fill in everything from Chapter 20 to the last chapter, LOL.
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Not being an English major, to me good writing transcends proper grammar, syntax, sentence structure, i.e. all the stuff we learned in grade school and high school. I would like to think everyone can do those things, though I'm very distressed when I see university grad students who obviously haven't learned those skills and can't properly link one thought to another.

For writing to be good, it has to move me, the reader as well as the writer. Now, it's difficult to describe just what that means. To move me it has to resonate somewhere with my feelings. Not everyone will identify with, or agree with what it is that moves "me." Everyone is moved by different things. Some are moved by horror stories, others by romance, or westerns, or what have you. Still, genre is not the issue. It's how well the subject matter is displayed, how well it grabs me, the reader, and propells me to read on. How well I can indentify with the character(s).

There is no magic potion that can insure that our writing is done well enough to move a given reader. Sometimes it's a matter of taste. Other times, it's a matter of resonance.

What I suggest is to read books that move you, resonate with you. Try to find what it is about that book, the characters if you will, that resonates with you. Is it the writing style? Is it the subject matter? Is it something else? What is it that propells you to read on?

Then, write, write, write until your own writing moves you. If it doesn't move you, it ain't likely to move anyone else. If it does move you, then you stand a chance of moving at least one other person, and hopefully an entire audience large enough to make your writing worth while.

Note that I did not say profitable, just worth while. Not all good writing, sells well. But it certainly can still be worth while, at least to you and those who love your writing.
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