Thursday, February 28, 2013

Staying the course

Sometimes a story does not want to cooperate. It becomes longer than you intended, or perhaps it is shorter. A character moves the work in an entirely new direction. Or worse, everything comes to a halt.

In the course of writing, it is important to maintain your energy and enthusiasm. However, when it becomes difficult to progress, it is essential to persevere. An obstacle is just something in your way. And it must be removed for the work to continue.

There are precious few instances where the story proceeds smoothly. When this happens, it is magic. You can progress unhindered. And it is easy to spend long periods of time typing as fast as your fingers will go. Page upon page just appears on the screen, ready to be printed or stored.

Usually, there comes a point where you hit a roadblock… or worse, writer's block. There is that one idea that is missing. Or your energy flags. You struggle to even write anything.

Sometimes, it means you are really interested in writing something else. If you force yourself to continue, the work will be lifeless: a dead thing propped up out of desperation.

Yet, often when the energy fades, it is not a signal to start afresh. Rather, you might need to reexamine what you have. Something drew your interest and it is that something you must regain. Come it at with a fresh perspective, or just with renewed effort.

I have had to force myself to continue many times. I feel like an oarsman on a galley when the wind has died. But I pour all of my strength into fashioning sentences and building them into paragraphs. 

And slowly, the story begins to move. A second wind starts to blow. I set the sails and continue on course. My destination is that much closer...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Birthday Poem

In celebration of my 40th birthday, a poem that I wrote a few years ago on the subject:


Hark, friends and countrymen                                   So, treasure this day
for the time is upon us.                                              like a keepsake of time.
A day of celebration let us make merry.                    Rejoice in all that has been
Set aside all your cares and the woes                        and in the many joys
Which do so readily weary you.                                which are to come.

For this is a day of birth.                                           And do not fret
Years have passed, but let us not forget.                   that the day will end.
For the dear times are to us,                                     For that is the fate of every day.
like precious stones to the prospector.                      The sun will rise
He would treasure them all.                                      and then it will set.

Think back on the many days                                   Memories are like dreams
and all that has transpired.                                        of far off places.
Youth, with all of its stumbling                                  They seem so real
has turned to maturity,                                              yet we cannot see them
with all of its challenges.                                            and we sigh within.

When we are smaller                                                But those happy dreams
the world seems bigger.                                            are as real to the heart
When we are taller                                                    as anything we see
the world has not lost                                                in the big, wide world
its awesome scale.                                                    around us.      

But the times roll on                                                  Rejoice this day!
without our leave.                                                     And it let it not pass
The seasons pass                                                      without a remembrance
though we would                                                       of what the day means
bid them tarry.                                                           before it is past.

And we come kicking and screaming
to the present day, the here and now.
Loose the shackles of the past
but do not forget
what it means.

For we have but one life,
and though it will pass,
we have our memories
to keep us warm
as the days grow cold.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Going to great lengths

In my experience, the story decides how long it will be. I like mine to be lean and mean, so I do not write anything unless it has a definite purpose. However, during the editing process, I strive to shorten further, concentrating on economy of words. This basically means that anything unnecessary will be removed, and what remains will be edited for smoothness and clarity.

Over the years, I have developed a decent sense concerning the length that a work is going to be. A story that is driven by concept will tend to be shorter. The more characters that are introduced, the longer a tale tends to be... especially if there is more plot and character development.

Longer works require an expanded vision: everything is bigger and delves deeper. The characters become people that you know, and thus, it becomes more difficult to expend them. What you might think will make for a dramatic ending, can provoke a backlash from the readership. It is important to tread lightly in these matters.

I like my characters, and am loath to destroy them. There comes a time when a character will die, but it cannot be arbitrary. It must be a steady progression that leads to their demise, and usually they have paved the way to this destination through their own actions or inaction. In all stories, you set the beginning and they determine the ending.

So, a novel is not just a novel concept. It is a large work, with a lot of characters and a long journey to get to the end. In a shorter work, everything is concentrated. You avoid explanation, dropping the reader into the moment. Just like dynamite, it comes in a small package.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Hound excerpt

An excerpt from my ebook "The Hound":

As her eyes shot open, she realized that someone else was shaking her.

Pete held her tightly. “Linda! Linda, wake up!”

She mumbled incoherently as her surroundings slowly came into focus.

“Honey, wake up! You were screaming.”

“Pete… Pete is that you?” She trembled like a little child.

“Yes, it’s me.” He hugged her. “You must have been having another nightmare.”

“No, it was real. That thing is coming for me.”


“The dog! The one that doesn’t have any skin! It’s coming for me!”

Pete embraced her. “Shh… it was a dream, honey. Just a bad dream…”
The cover for my ebook "The Hound." Now available on

From Donald White, author of "The Face in the Mirror" comes a new tale of terror. Linda Greywood feels persecuted by everyone and everything around her. But a real monstrosity is stalking her now, in the form of an infernal beast! Oppressed, her mind begins to unravel and she will take matters into her own hands. Run as fast as you can, but you will never escape The Hound.

Cover art by Terry Pavlet

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Scenery: You are here

The main difficulty that I find with setting a scene is deciding how much to describe. Too many details and the audience is lost. Too few and the audience does not even know where they are. When it comes to setting, I focus on keeping it simple.

I find that the mind of the reader is my ally in this endeavor. Draw a picture for them, and their imaginations will fill in the blank spaces. Also, if you keep the location somewhat ambiguous, they can see it happening in their own home town or somewhere close by. This imparts to the tale a reality that it would not otherwise have.

I like where I live. There are many geographical points of interest: the sloping hills, evergreen forests, lakes and streams all give it a certain character. But I am reluctant to describe it in great detail. Someone who has never seen it will not view it the same way as I do: home.

Also, when I write a story I like to explore the world. Now, since the location may be something I have only seen in a photograph, it behooves me to keep the description simple. In reality, wherever you go, there you are. The place may look different and feel different, but certain things will be the same.

People are very different, and yet there is that which makes us all human. It is this universal spirit, that brings us together. And that is what people are looking for when they read a book: a familiar scent which wafts across the great expanse, to fill the senses with the awesome wonder that is the world we live in.