March 26, 2013

What is Real?

When we talk about reality, we are usually referring to the three-dimensional physical world that we live in. Anything not a part of that world is declared to be not real, or in other words, fiction. People who like to think they live out their lives only in the “real world” tend to dismiss fiction as being for children and dreamers. I’ve even heard it said that fiction is for people who can’t handle reality.

I submit that reality is for people who can’t handle fiction. An adult who enjoys reading fiction is someone who hasn’t lost their imagination. Too often we see children playing in rich imaginary worlds, and we tell them to grow up. This teaches them to be ashamed of having an imagination, and that imaginary things are only for children.

Adults who are able to hold on to their imagination are people who enjoy reading fiction. For them, the words on the page paint pictures in their mind, and the characters live out their lives in beautiful color. They see the events in the book as though they were watching a movie.

Still, even many adults who enjoy reading fiction have only managed to retain a part of their imagination. I make this statement based on the sheer number of them who ask me where I get my ideas from. Many of them don’t believe me when I tell them I just make stuff up out of my imagination. They persist in wanting to know where my ideas come from.

Where my ideas come from is a story for a different post.

The point here is that the imaginary worlds in books and movies are no less real in the minds of the consumers, the people who read the books and watch the movies. They’re also real in the minds of the writers who make them. It’s less a matter of not knowing the difference between fact and fiction, but more an acknowledgement that reality is comprised of both fact and fiction, and that there’s room enough for writers and readers to enjoy more than one kind of reality.


Just Because

Just a quick note to let you know that my book, A Gigolo For Christmas, is free for Kindle owners today. No reason, just because!

You can get it here.

March 19, 2013

Writer vs. Author

I’ve seen the terms “writer” and “author” used in so many different contexts lately that I started wondering what the difference was between a writer and an author, or whether there was a difference.

Sometimes people draw the line between people who write based on the length of their work. An author creates novel-length works, while a writer works in shorter segments.

Sometimes the line is drawn based on the content. Authors almost always deal in fiction, while non-fiction creators are writers.

Sometimes the differentiation is made based on publication status: a writer is a person who writes, an author has been published. I notice that the people who use this criteria tend to put self-published individuals with the non-published group, because their work hasn’t been approved by a traditional publishing house editorial staff.

I feel the main difference between a writer and an author is their attitude toward the work they do. A writer is someone, anyone, who writes. An author is someone who comes to their writing seriously, purposefully, and professionally. They take the time to learn how to write well. They learn the general rules of writing; they know how to construct a story arc, and they understand characterization, point of view, and the importance of research. They learn the rules of their genre, and follow them unless there’s a compelling reason to break them.

They also learn the rules of grammar. Spelling, punctuation, and proper sentence, paragraph, and chapter construction are vital for a well-written work. Grammar is the scaffolding that holds the story up. A beautiful story, badly told, is as difficult to wade through as beautifully told plotless drivel. I’ve even read badly written stories with no plot – but never for very long.

The good news is that this sort of professionalism can be learned. The rules are there, and there are many blogs and websites dedicated to good grammar, and to teaching the craft of writing. Good writers will take advantage of the free education that is available and produce good writing. They will become the authors of tomorrow.

March 12, 2013

Take a Breath!

My friend Grrly Grl recently read a blog post which contained the entire post in a single “paragraph”. She told me it was hard to read, that it was hard to focus on what the writer meant, and that it was hard to keep her place on the page. She asked me to do a post on paragraphs; what they are and how to write them properly.

I had a few ideas on what was right and wrong in the writing of paragraphs, but before publishing them, I decided to do some fact-checking. Good thing, too, as I discovered that some of my thoughts were incorrect.

Grammarly Handbook says that the general rule is to break a paragraph when it has completely developed the topic sentence. However, some topics being more complicated than others, if you need more than five or six sentences, find a logical place for a break. had some interesting things to say on what most people incorrectly believe are the rules of paragraph writing, especially as it concerns essay writing. (Essay writing is a totally different art form than research papers, nonfiction, poetry, and fiction writing, which are also distinct from each other.) One of the debunked rules is that a paragraph must contain between three and five sentences, and another is to never begin a sentence with a conjunction such as and or but. Go read the article for some eye-opening information.

I think the best advice I’ve heard on paragraph structure came from my daughter’s 7th grade teacher. “A sentence contains a thought; a paragraph contains an idea, but never write a paragraph longer than you can read aloud in a single breath.”