Dennis Coslett

I am a writer and novelist. Welcome to my blog and website. Here, you can learn what is going on in my life and in my writing career.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Writer's Block

I think it's happened. For  the first time in my writing career, I think I can say I am suffering from writer's block.

It's mostly the result of stress and uncertainty. My main symptom is a total lack of interest in actually writing anything. I have some short stories that need more work -- I want to do at least one more draft of each -- but I don't seem to want to work on them.

Partly because I think there may be something missing in them. A feeling of insecurity may have contributed to my inability to write much.

I'm not writing for fun, or online, or just to see where a scene might go. When I sit down to write, I put down a sentence or two, then fiddle around on Youtube or Google, then maybe write a few more words. Sometimes, if I really push myself, I might get 50 words down.

Then, a week later,  I do it all over again.

What am I doing about it?

I am trying something new.  This means fantasy and fan fiction at the moment, and possibly other ideas if I can come up with something.

Maye I'll work on some old ideas.

And I'm going to get active in a writing group I joined on Meetup. Their next meeting is tomorrow, and I will be there.

I'm also thinking about finding someone, perhaps in this writing group, or on Facebook or Wattpad, to beta-read my stories and tell me if anything is missing.

And there are other ideas I can try if none of those work.

If all goes well, perhaps I can make something happen soon. It's very worrisome when you can't sesm to write anything.

9:29 pm cdt          Comments

Saturday, June 30, 2018

He saw, he heard, he felt, he thought

Over the years, my approach to writing has changed in some ways. For example, I frequently go back to things I wrote years ago, and I find ways to cut out excess words.

One of the ways I cut out words lately is to eliminate as many uses of the words saw, heard, felt and thought as possible. I think leaving out those words is a great way to make your writing more direct, leaner, and more concise. You can leave these words out because the reader will provide them for you. He will assume that your character is seeing, feeling, hearing and thinking what goes on in the story.

For example, you could write, he heard a car engine start nearby. Or you could simply say, a car engine started nearby

In a similar vein, you could write, He felt a cold breeze cut through his clothes. Or you can write, A cold breeze cut through his clothes.

My favorite example is, thought. Don't write, it's a trap, he thought. Instead write, it's a trap. You do not need to risk taking the reader out of your story by reporting that your character thought something. Instead, record his thoughts and assume your reader will know what you are doing.

In each example, the second approach is more direct and doesn't break up the flow of the story. You want to do anything that will keep your reader in your story. Keeping things flowing as much as possible by eliminating unnecessary words such as saw, heard, felt, and thought will help.

12:38 pm cdt          Comments

Wattpad

I now have a presence on Wattpad, the free fiction site. I am still trying to boost my audience, even more so now that I am becoming convinced that writing and publishing more is my best option in life, and I think I can do so by publishing some things on Wattpad.

Many will be complete offerings, others will be partial. I can also use it as a place to post some things I don't feel right publishing for money, such as my story Those Who Have Not Swords, which I started several years ago, and made some progress on before coming to a stop. I have since used part of it as backstory in one of my Charlie Rowe novels, False Witness. THis being the case, I don't feel that I can ask money for it, but I will offer it for free, in installments, as a sample of my work

Check Wattpad regularly, as I intend to post frequently.

In other news, I now own a condo. I closed last week, and I am now planning and preparing to move in during the month of July. It may taike a while to completely, especially when it comes to the contents of my storage locker, but I am finally going to be able to live on my own again.

In some ways, the prospect is terrifying, in some ways, it is exciting.

12:20 pm cdt          Comments

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Value of Research

One of the true wonders of the modern age, for a writer, is a computer with a working internet connection and the ability to access Google.com.

Researching any topic is so easy these days that I have to wonder how writers managed it before the internet and, especially, Google.

As an example, over the weekend I wrote a scene in The Pursuit of Kelly Clark, where my barefoot heroine, Kelly, needs to find a pair of shoes in Minneapolis at 3:00 in the morning. No shoe stores are open, there aren't that many people about, and it would seem that no one would leave a pair of shoes where Kelly can find them.

Howver, research showed me how to make this scene work. A quick Google search led me to the wikipedia article on abandoned shoes, and this article mentioned shoe trees, which are trees that people throw their shoes into for whatever reason.

A refinement of my search revealed that one of these shoe trees exists on the grounds of the University of Minnesota's West Bank Campus, near the Washington Avenue Bridge. People have been throwing their shoes on the tree for years. Sometimes they miss and their shoes land on the ground. Google maps even gave me a street-level view of the shoe tree in question.

Problem solved. Kelly, a former U. of M. student, although briefly, would know of this shoe tree and would know that she can find shoes there in the middle of the night.

That's just a quick description of the value of online research, which any writer can do on the fly as he writes.

4:36 pm cst          Comments

Big Changes

These past several years, I have struggled with the writing of Old Wounds. I have written and rewritten it, I have changed my mind about whether it wanted to be a novel or a novella, and I have spent many hours agonizing over what I am to do with this project. Despite all this work, I have never really been satisfied with it.

Then, a couple of weekends ago, I realized how to make the project work. I just needed to make a simple change: instead of trying to tie several plot threads together as part of the same story, I need to let them be seperate.

Of course, I am not out of the woods yet. I will end up with three different villians, and I will have to hope I am a good enough writer to pull it off. I also have to tear my existing story apart, saving what I can, and replot it. I will need a new outline,a nd I will essentially start again.

And all this is on the back burner for now. I have been working on Old Wounds for a long time, and I need a break from it. Plus, I have another project, The Pursuit of Kelly Clark, underway at the moment, and I am making some good progress on that, so I obviously want to continue working on that story. I also have a science fiction short story I'd like to write before I tackle Old Wounds again.

But, at least I know what to do about Old Wounds when the time comes to start working on it again.

4:26 pm cst          Comments

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About me: I have been writing since the early 1980s, ever since discovering a passion for writing during my senior year in High School. My completed writings include novels, short stories, and newspaper articles. I have completed four novels in that time, and have partially completed two others. I have had little success in finding an agent or a publisher for any of my novels, and have recently taken my efforts online. During the years that I have been writing, I have also served my country as a member of the United States Army's Judge Advocate General's Corps. In the last five years, I have been deployed to Army bases in Iraq, Kansas, and Virginia.

Look for my novel Taylor Made, available from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. taylor_made_banner.jpg