The Nitty Gritty of Writing

Today I want to extend a big thank-you to Mary S. Palmer for Guest Hosting on my blog. Take it away, Mary!

I’ve been in a writing critique group for the last year. We meet every other Saturday in a small room the manager of a restaurant allows us to use. For me, it’s about a half hour drive, but I’ve found it’s well worth it. We’re a motley group of two women and four men–a lawyer, a retired telecommunication’s engineer, a business men, an editor, and I am a college English teacher.

At the time I was first invited, I was reluctant to join. I’d published five books and another was about to be released. Long before, I’d tried participating in such a group but, probably because of the makeup, it wasn’t very productive. This time, things were different.

This group is focused and each person brings something new to the forum. Some are good on characters, others on plotting, style or other parts of writing. All of us are accepting of instructive criticism. We still realize we don’t have to accept suggestions we don’t agree with. However, most are on target.

Another plus is that all six members are faithful in attendance. If someone has to miss a section, he, or she, lets the others know. It works because we keep track of story lines and become actively involved in each other’s writing. All of our books are so different in content that it’s not as hard as it may seem to maintain interest.

My latest novel, TIME WILL TELL, was already accepted by Musa Publishing Co. and they had contracted to release TO CATCH A FISH (published in hard back and paperback) as an e-book June 1. So, I am writing a sequel to TO CATCH A FISH. It is currently under consideration for an e-book.

As I worked on that sequel, BAITING THE HOOK, the other day, I thought about the most difficult part of writing and how it is viewed by different people. I asked some members of my critique group what was most difficult for them.

J. Nolan White, Copy Editor for Greater Days Outdoors magazine and the leader of our group, gave a detailed response:

“Other than carving out time to write, the most difficult part of writing is finding the arc of my plot-driven story. It’s important because I want to present a dramatic turn of events and resolve the story’s conflict in a unique or unusual way.

“Resolution of conflict can’t come too early or the suspense is lost. It has to fall about 3/4 way into a novel (as in page 300). Every incident leading up to that zenith, I hope, has contributed to the novel’s momentum and kept the reader hooked. Obstacles abound, large and small, and the stakes are raised all along the way for the main character (MC). These cumulative events keep the reader on track by posing the unspoken question, ‘What is the MC’s primary goal and how will he get it?’ Also, who or what will cause him to shift to a more important goal, thus altering his destiny in a meaningful way?

“A ‘brain trust’ such as fellow critiquers may help identify the arc after my novel is complete, but it’s my story. Collaborators can’t be used to create it. I’m on my own. The timing of the wrap-up may not be tidy, but it has to be unique. So…at the story’s apex, the MC’s ingenuity takes control. After all, reaching his goal is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s here, too, that the protagonist and his goal becomes most memorable. It’s this high point that I have to keep uppermost in mind from start to finish.”

Dan Schuler, a lawyer, had this to say:

“I find that the hardest thing about the writing life for me personally is getting my rear end into the chair to begin writing in the first place. As a father of three and a full-time employee with a demanding and often harried work schedule, I could use any and all of these facts as an excuse. But that’s what it would be–an excuse. The plain and simple truth is that I have to fight to overcome inertia. Procrastination has always been my greatest foe.

“But when I actually slip into that chair and begin typing, something magical occurs. Vistas never glimpsed before open to me and the horizon recedes as my imagination takes wing. Without my even realizing it, hours pass as my characters find their voice and whole worlds appear from the ether.

“So, whenever I can find the inner fortitude to skip that next load of laundry, fight the urge to sweep the floor, or forego time with a good book, I will continue to write for my own gratification, and hopefully, someday, for that of a much larger audience.”

Donna Hansel summed it up by saying, “The hardest part of writing for me is carving out niches of time to write and making sure I go forward when I’m in reverse.” I think we’ve all shared that feeling.

For me, the hardest part of writing is avoiding “info dump” and telling rather than showing. If I don’t leave it out, I have to spend lots of time cutting it out. So, I have to constantly remind myself to STAY FOCUSED.

No matter how hard it is, writers write and the most serious ones try to write right, and become published.


Time Will Tell ~ By Mary S. Palmer

Reporter Mona Stewart finds herself in another world of warring factions and one of them holds the key to immortality and cures for fatal diseases.

In the inner space of outer space, an earthling, reporter Mona Stewart, discovers that living almost forever in idleness, and without challenges, is much worse than having too much to do. The only reprieve from boredom for the Svarians is outwitting the Aliens.



The car skidded, swerved sideways and spun around three times before cascading into the gully below. There were no houses on this stretch of the sparsely populated road in west Mobile County and traffic was light at one a.m., so no one saw the accident happen. The driver lay critically injured at the bottom of the ravine.

Mona Stewart was motionless. Life was rapidly oozing out of her twenty-eight year-old body. The thirty-foot drop had left the little red Volkswagen bug in one piece but all sides were damaged. It landed right on top of Mona and threw one sharp piece of window glass directly through her abdomen. The heavy rainstorm, which had contributed to the accident, continued. Blood and water formed a puddle of red liquid. Pep, her little Beagle who was also in the car, revived and staggered over to his mistress, sniffed around and began to lap at the puddle. It did not suit his taste, so he crawled under the car, snuggled as close as he could to Mona and lay down on the ground to stand guard.

In her unconscious state with her life ebbing away, Mona’s mind reviewed her existence. In flashes she relived the good and the bad, the right and the wrong, her parents’ untimely death in a plane crash, her marriage and divorce. A couple of dateless years for fear of having a failed relationship. Now, in the last hour, she had to face the discovery that her current boyfriend was no longer interested in her. He had even laughed when he left her apartment saying, “What did you expect? I promised you nothing and that’s exactly what you’re getting. There were no commitments.” She should have known this would happen. The notoriously fickle Lee Black, III, was chased by girls because of his rugged good looks and his charming, though superficial, personality. He had never been noted for his loyalty. 

Nevertheless, Mona was crushed and outraged. Feeling that she had to get out of that apartment, she’d hopped in her car and sped away into the humid summer night, roaming around aimlessly, not even knowing or caring where she was. When an announcer’s voice blared out of her radio that “Hurricane Dennis is on a path headed directly for Mobile, Alabama bearing one hundred and thirty mile per hour winds; please take heed and go to a safe place—shelters are open now,” thinking that it was no match for the storm going on within her, Mona clicked off the radio. She couldn’t run from either one. Then a sudden downpour made driving hazardous. She’d never been on this road before and did not even see the curve.

Now, strangely enough, as she relived the experience in her mind, she no longer felt resentment toward Lee or anyone else who had ever wronged her. Instead, she felt a sense of forgiveness toward them. A bright light seemed to hover over her. With it came a complete sense of peace.

Gr-rrr,” Pep growled. Then he emitted a bark that sounded more like a frightened yelp than a threat. But when two people came over to his mistress, raised the car up and lifted her out of the pool of blood, the dog instinctively knew they were trying to help her. He backed off, following as they carried her to a shelter.

Buy Link: Musa Publishing

Connect with Mary on her Website.



This entry was posted in Guest Blogs, The Blog and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s