Writing Goals 2017

My 2017 Writing Goals (and maybe they can help you too):

Write even when– no, especially when– I’m tired or not feeling it, or think don’t have time.

Commit to the story. I have too many novels and stories that have languished. The worst story ever completed is a thousand times better than the best fragment or chapter.

Commit to the language. I used to say good writing should disappear in service to the story, but I’ve softened on this; good writing is a joy that serves the story, knows when to call attention to itself, and when to let the plot take center stage.┬áTalented and accomplished author Jessica Reisman and I have argued on this in the past, and she will be happy to know that I’ve come round toward her point of view.

Take joy in writing but also remember that writing can be a hard slog. Remember, writing is easy for everyone except writers. Since it’s so hard, might as well do it right.


Pantsing redux: or, now I’m confused

Welp, after The Great Outlining Disaster of 2014, I went back to pantsing it. Going along great, words are flowing, not sure about Chapter 4, but I keep plowing along, and then, first slowly and then with increasing speed, the further I get, the more the derailed cars pile up. Scenes go nowhere. Characters say the weirdest things. Events that should happen from one POV are muddled because they are observed by someone whose goat is definitely not being fucked. (What? It’s a thing.)

So the upshot is….(mumble)

What, Patrice? What was that? (Hand to ear)


I can’t hear you!


Yes. Mea culpa. I am outlining. And (big sigh). It’s not so bad. I am going a bit slowly, but I can start the rewriting fairly soon. The outlining itself is helping me see the main story arc. I’m still having trouble trying to figure out exactly what the plot is (I know, right?) but this way when I throw out a chunk that goes wrong, it’s not 20,000 words.

I am probably going to discard at least 20,000 words (well, maybe not that much. And by discard, I mean put in my cut file. Always keep a cut file, children. Even if you are one of those damn outliners.)

So. Crow pie anyone?

Lessons from the Writers League — Part I

Lessons from the Writers League of Texas conference.

I spent Saturday at the Writers League of Texas Agents & Editors Conference and came away with a lot of practical advice and information. Everyone was eager, professional, and wonderful to talk to and work with. My panels, on historical fiction and alternative worlds, were well-attended, and panelists and audiences had plenty to share.

Chuck Sambuchino‘s keynote address. Chuck is an editor at Writers Digest and he writes a Guide to Literary Agents blog that is one of the most popular on the Web. As Chuck says, there’s so much the writer can’t control. So what does a writer have control over? (Note: I have made plenty of these mistakes.)

Chuck Sambuchino’s Top Things You Have Control over as a Writer

  • Always write the best thing you can. Polish, edit, prepare. It’s not someone else’s job to fix your errors.
  • Investigate all publishing options and research them carefully. This means self-publishing and traditional publishing. Don’t get blindsided. Know what you are getting into.
  • Create and develop a platform and always be visible in the marketplace.
  • Keep moving forward. This is the number one thing, according to Chuck. Don’t stop after one rejection or two or multiple. Keep writing the next thing, keep developing the next project, keep going.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Agents always want to know what else you are working on. They don’t want to take on one-book authors.
  • It’s okay to write for money.
  • Don’t believe everything you hear.
  • Don’t give agents a reason to say no. This goes back to writing the best that you can.
  • Steal from yourself. If you have an old idea, repurpose it for articles, short stories, novels, etc. Maximize the value of what you write.
  • Success comes from rejection. Keep going forward and find the right publisher.

And the number one secret to writing. Are you ready for this?

Drum roll, please…

  • Put down the remote control.