Outlining a Series With the Snowflake Method: Step 2- In Practice

Step 1: One Sentence Storyline
Step 1-1/2: What Type of Series?
Step 2: One Paragraph Storyline- Exposition


Now, we get to move on to the practical use of the One Paragraph Storyline, and discuss the slight modifications I’ve made to it to make it work for the series outline style I’ve got planned.

The first couple of times I’ve used the snowflake outline to outline a series I used the normal method with 3 disasters and an ending, and the way I worked it is that each “disaster” would be the One Sentence Storyline for the next step down. That’s a good way to outline for four books. The entire system at this point is built to be divisible by four. So, the next step up would be sixteen books. So, this can create a really really long series. With The Raven Stone series I broke it down this way, but instead of outlining a full 16 book series, I looked at it like I was outlining a 4 book series that was going to be serialized into 16 parts. So, that second stage of One Sentence Storylines became the story arcs for the route the series was taking. Each arc was built to have a separate villain, though they were interconnected by the overarching storyline developed in the first One Paragraph Storyline.

That’s not how I’m going to be doing for this outline. For one reason, I don’t want a series that’s going to be 16 books long. I’m going to aim for 7 books, just like our published example. To get that number of books I’m going to have to modify the One Paragraph Outline. The easiest way I see to do this is to expand the number of “disasters” that take place over the course of the series. So, instead of 3 disasters and an ending, it will be 6 disasters and an ending. And, I’m not even going to pretend to find a way to make that get along with the 3-act structure and what not. This One Paragraph Storyline serves exactly one purpose, a broad overview of the series. Each of the disasters and the ending will basically be bunch of One Sentence Storylines. Still, the best way to make the over arching plot of the series consistent is to treat the whole of the series like it’s going to be one novel. An extremely long novel, but a novel none the less.

So, for the breakdown let’s look at our published example:

(Be aware, there are spoilers below.)


Harry Potter series:
One Sentence Storyline: A boy is the chosen one in a prophecy that pits him against the most evil wizard.

For the disasters in Harry Potter we could look at the actual ending of the books, though that will always have Harry return to the Dursley’s, and while that’s a terrible thing, using it as the disaster for each book wouldn’t be descriptive of the book at all. No, the disasters are going to be the focal points of the novel. The climactic moments in the series. Like the first books disaster would be the moment when Quirrell reveals that he’s been Voldemort’s host all along and tries to kill Harry. Basically, the disaster here is that Voldemort is alive and there is a possibility that one day he will be able to reclaim his former glory and cast another darkness across the land.


First Disaster:
Harry finds out Voldemort is alive, he’s a weak creature that must depend on others to live, but he’s still alive and there’s a chance he’ll come back just as powerful as before.

Second Disaster:
Harry becomes trapped in the chamber of secrets and finds himself facing off with Tom Riddle twenty years before he becomes Lord Voldemort.

Third Disaster:
After almost proving his innocence, Harry must say goodbye to his godfather before he goes into hiding, running from a crime he didn’t commit.

Fourth Disaster:
The triwizard tournament was a sham, merely a way for Voldemort to get ahold of Harry, and use some of his darkest powers to completely resurrect himself, regaining his full power.

Fifth Disaster:
Harry discovers that he’s the subject of a prophecy, one that foretells his coming battle and death at the hands of Lord Voldemort.

Sixth Disaster:
Betrayal, Harry watches in horror as Severus Snape murders Albus Dumbledoor.

Harry learns that he is Voldemort’s final horcrux, and if there’s to be any chance of defeating him Harry must die by Voldemort’s hand.

(Side note… I should probably put a spoiler warning earlier in the post.)

(Another side note: it is a lot easier to make these out for books that have been written already. We’ve not even looked at our example series yet.)

So, the One Paragraph Storyline of the Harry Potter series:

A boy is the chosen one in a prophecy that pits him against the most evil wizard of all. Harry finds out Voldemort is alive, he’s a weak creature that must depend on others to live, but he’s still alive and there’s a chance he’ll come back just as powerful as before. Harry becomes trapped in the chamber of secrets and finds himself facing off with Tom Riddle twenty years before he becomes Lord Voldemort. After almost proving his innocence, Harry must say goodbye to his godfather before he goes into hiding, running from a crime he didn’t commit. The Triwizard Tournament was a sham, merely a way for Voldemort to get ahold of Harry, and use some of his darkest powers to resurrect himself, regaining his full power. Harry discovers he’s the subject of a prophecy, one that foretells his coming battle and death at the hands of Lord Voldemort. Betrayal, Harry watches in horror as Severus Snape murders Albus Dumbledoor. Harry learns that he is Voldemort’s final horcrux, and if there’s to be any chance of defeating him Harry must die by Voldemort’s hand.

Welp, there’s the One Paragraph Storyline for the Harry Potter series. Now it’s time to work on our original fiction idea, but I think I’m going to put that off until the next post. Later taters.

Ryan S. Kinsgrove


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Inspiration: We’re All Victims of Instant Gratification

I know I should be writing Step 2 of my outlining series, but I kind of got caught off guard by this topic today. And, it is something that I want to talk about. Primarily because I know I’m a victim of instant gratification. I can almost guarantee you, that you are too.

(I also wrote a bad poem titled: Victim of Instant Gratification)

In a world where messages are instant, don’t you want everything else to be too. In the age of the internet, people have lost the understanding of what it means to work for something. Open up a web browser and BAM! the whole world is at your fingertips. Any piece of information you want can be accessed almost instantly. There is no waiting involved. As evidence of this point, I just did a google search for “instant gratification”, the response from Google was: “About 13,900,000 results (0.41 seconds)”. Do you know how short an amount of time .41 seconds is. I’ll tell you. Its less than the amount of time it takes you to blink. My finger had barely left the ENTER key before the page with the search results populated. Now tell me, if that’s not instant gratification, what is?

This is a problem for the world though. Why? Because it has created a generation of the ultra entitled. Countless people, the world over, believe that they’re entitled to everything that exists, and they’re entitled to it right now, just because they’re alive. I know this first hand. Why? Because I was one of them. I’m trying though, I’m learning to be better than that.

Nothing in this world is instant and worth having. To truly understand the value of a thing you have to have worked for it. To enjoy the success of some venture, you must have invested something into it. You must put your body, mind, heart, and soul into the process to acquire the McGuffin. Why? Because the world requires balance. You can’t have the good without the bad. And you have to have experienced the bad, the worst in fact, to understand the beauty of what it is you’ve accomplished.

Let’s take blogging as a short example. I’ve tried blogging on and off for the last ten years or so. Most often I’ll get about a month into it and give up. Why? It’s the instant gratification factor involved.

Building a successful blog takes time. It takes time to build an audience. It takes time to understand the different factors that are going to help your blog grow. You have to learn certain techniques to truly get things moving, and it takes time to learn those things. Search Engine Optimization (SEO for short) is not a skill that develops overnight. There are plenty of other factors as well. What type of content are you producing? How many people are interested in said content? Is it quality content? Do you know what you’re talking about? If you don’t know what you’re talking about, are you at least doing a good job of explaining the way you’re going about learning about this topic? And, this list could probably go on for hours.

Now, here I come expecting everything to be handed too me on a satin pillow, and, much to my surprise, I’ve had little to no traffic in the time a month has gone by. I feel like I’ve worked my heart and soul out, bleeding all over the keyboard as I’m doing it, and I’ve got nothing in return. So, at that point I would give up. I would never look past that, and not even try to understand what was happening. I wouldn’t look into learning how to do other things to help drive traffic, or improve the quality of my content, or really understand anything about how to build a blog. I just expected it to be super easy for me because I’m “ME” (and, yes, at the time I would think about myself in all caps). I’m trying to learn the difference this time.

I’m about four or five days into this attempt at blogging, and this time I’m determined to be successful. I’m not going to let the lack of instant gratification get to me, rather I’m going to understand that nothing comes without hard work and determination. Dedication and discipline are a requirement in this field. I’m also going to look at studying marketing and SEO and a hundred other things that are related to building a blog. I want to make a living as a writer, so I need to build an audience. A blog is one of the best ways to do that. Now, I just need to learn to be patient enough to put in the time and effort required to build it.

Come to think of it now, I might actually try to do something somewhat entertaining. (At least the thought of it to me is entertaining.) I believe I’ll track the progress of my blog both here on WordPress and on Medium (and maybe Blogger if I decide to revive that blog, though I’m basically just posting the same content on all of them.) Tracking the progress of the blog will go a long way towards helping me build the blog and understand how this unique online world works.

Anywho, I feel like I’m rambling, and have totally lost the thread of thought that was the impetus to this post. I’ve also got about a hundred other things I need to do on my day off. So, I’ll be signing off here. Have a good one.

Ryan S. Kinsgrove


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Check out my premium Medium post- Multiplicity: It’s All In Your Head


The Real Meaning of 42, a Sonnet

I know the meaning of 42,
Do you want to know too,
The answer lies in computer code,
Let us set it now to ASCII mode.

An asterisk is the key,
A variable it is, wild and free,
Make of it what you will,
Anything to seal the deal.

How to find an asterisk in ASCII,
You need to look no further than 42,
Deep Thought answered the only way it could,
Deep Thought answered as a computer would.

To a computer life is a variable, an asterisk, a wildcard,
42 means life is what you make of it, a concept not so hard.

Check out the partner post at: The Real Meaning of 42

Join my mailing list at: — -o 42 o — -

Quora Questions Answered: Is There Any Evidence To Suggest That Consciousness Could Exist Outside The Body?


There’s a long answer and a short answer to this.

The short one is no, there’s no empirical evidence to prove or disprove possibility of a consciousness existing outside of a human body.
That’s not to say that research hasn’t been done, however. The studies that I’ve heard of (I don’t have names and dates for the studies so take what I say with a grain of salt) have focused primarily on studying the way the mind functions during what the test subjects describe as out of body experiences. These studies have indicated the mind entering in a dreamlike or trance like state with similar parts of the brain lighting up as though the subject had entered R.E.M. sleep. To my knowledge the methods to test this state of being was transcendental meditation, hypnosis, and drug induced effect, primarily LSD.

I’m going to repeat, 90% of this is pure speculation. Like I mentioned I don’t have names and dates for the studies, and I have a highly over active imagination. So, a grain of salt it is.

Now, there’s another end to this spectrum. We have “evidence” in the form of personal experiences. Mabey not a common occurrence, but the group you’re looking for are Buddhist monks. Specifically those who practice transcendental meditation. This is a form of meditation with the sole purpose of being able to remove the conscious mind from the physical body and transporting it to the astral plane. The astral plane is the space that fills in the holes between this world and the next.

From there things become less and less structured. It stops being the metaphysical and becomes the paranormal. The search for ghosts, to prove ghosts exist, is not only a way of proving there is an afterlife, but it can also double as seeking out a consciousness that has no human form. For what is a ghost if it’s not a soul, and the soul is made up of the human consciousness.

There are other examples. Reports of bilocation, being in two places at once, and out of body experiences where you’re either transported to heaven or hell. There are simple reports of an out of body experience being your consciousness standing off to one side while the body goes on and does its thing.

None of this is proof of the conscious mind existing outside of the body. It could be that these people tap into the mainline of the subconscious and the dreaming world. So, to round things out: No, there’s no hard empirical data on whether or not a consciousness can exist outside of a physical body. There is anecdotal evidence it is possible.

If this is something you want to do further research into, I would suggest going the path of transcendental meditation. That seems to be the only “proven” way to induce an out of body experience.

If you enjoyed your daily dose of Kinsgrove please feel free to check out my other blog on Medium. Also stop by my Facebook page and give me a like. This will keep you hooked up to the up to the minute Kinsgrove news. It’s almost as much news as you’d get if you followed us on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. And don’t pass up the opportunity on awesome prizes, exclusive content, and more me than you can stand, sign up for the Kinsgrovian Press now. Next to last, if you haven’t noticed the celebration, my debut novel was recently published, click this conveniently placed link to check out Cold Lunch and see exactly what happens when you piss off the most powerful vampire in the world. And, I promise I’ll shut up after this, I just wanted to ask, if you really enjoyed the content think about liking and sharing the content on all your social media channels.

Quora Questions Answered: Can I Write A Good Novel Within Two Months?


A lot of factors go in to answering this question. Factors like natural talent, level of skill, how many words a day, do you already have an outline, what about concrete characters, how clean are your first drafts, and how much time do you have to dedicate to the work.

With all those personal factors set aside, let’s take a look at the very basic mechanics of what it is we’re trying to do. Yes, it is possible to write a novel in two months. Cujo, by Stephen King, was an international bestseller that spawned a movie deal and millions of nightmares about Saint Bernard’s. This is the perfect example of a great novel being written in two months. But, yes, lets narrow down the context of Cujo. Cujo’s first draft was written in three days. It was a cocaine fueled loss of sanity that worked out in the most productive manner. Similarly, Lawrence Block, a mystery writer, has admitted to writing a novel in three days before. He didn’t give a name for the book, or say if it was ever published, he just said how long it took him to write it.

Another factor removed in this equation is the drafting process. Most novels go through three or four revisions (sometimes more) before the author is comfortable enough to begin submitting to publishers and agents. The drafting process is a time consuming procedure. It’s one that’s almost always necessary to help move a fair novel into good land, and to make good writing great. If you’re cutting yourself down to two months, it makes me want to ask if you’re only trying to get the first draft done in a hurry or do you plan on going to attempt full on publication; by skipping the drafting process your book is going to be missing something.

To speak from personal experience, I wrote a novella (about 5k short of 60k) in two weeks. This is a story I’ve never returned to as I know it’s filled with bad writing.

Is it possible to write a good novel in two months: yes, based on a lot of factors, it is technically possible to write a novel in two months.

Would I recommend you try to write a novel from plot to publication in two months? No, there’s just too much good that would be cut out of the process, a cut that would leave your novel at the gate with a gimp leg.

My final suggestion, aim for writing the first draft in two months. Set it aside for a month, then return to it. Do self-edits and the initial rewrite of the novel coming out with a more concrete 2nd draft. Then throw your novels to the wolves…err…beta-readers. Then comes the third draft. If you’re not satisfied with it at this point I would consider getting a professional editor to look over it. All in all, I would say you’re probably looking at six months to a year before the novel’s ready to go.


***Author’s Note***

If you enjoyed your daily dose of Kinsgrove please feel free to check out my other blog on Medium. Also stop by my Facebook page and give me a like. This will keep you hooked up to the up to the minute Kinsgrove news. It’s almost as much news as you’d get if you followed us on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. And don’t pass up the opportunity on awesome prizes, exclusive content, and more me than you can stand, sign up for the Kinsgrovian Press now. Next to last, if you haven’t noticed the celebration, my debut novel was recently published, click this conveniently placed link to check out Cold Lunch and see exactly what happens when you piss off the most powerful vampire in the world. And, I promise I’ll shut up after this, I just wanted to ask, if you really enjoyed the content think about liking and sharing the content on all your social media channels.

How to Write a Blog Gone Horribly Wrong!

Catchy click-bait title, or something like that. Anyway I’m currently taking an email course on blogging by Jeff Goins, and I will personally say I think he’s an awesome guy from what I’ve read about him. As such, nothing in this post is intended to harm or insult Jeff any anyway. I only wish you the best.


That being said.


I am a little over halfway through the course now and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. The first thing that made me kind of cringe was right off the bat.


Choosing a topic.


The purpose for the blog came first, and my purpose was fairly simple: I want to build a fanbase and eventually turn it into a way to make an income. That’s the goal there, lol. Professional blogger. Still, the purpose for the blog was simple to come up with.


Lesson number 2 was Focus. In this lesson we sat down and scribbled down a list of things we found most interesting about ourselves, about things we were familiar with, topics about how something… something… something… I can’t remember all of it right now. Night time meds are kicking in. (Note to self: write blog posts before you take the sleep meds. I don’t know what it is, but Benadryl knocks me the eff out.)


Anyway, topics and things. I was able to boil my top three topics down into something I would love to write about that would overlap everything I was interested in. A dash of games, a touch of writing, the stuff that’s written on the little about me on the web site. The answer to the question Jeff posed “What is your blog going to be about?” “World Building.”


World Building is the factor in fantasy, in writing, working as a game master, it’s the factor that I love above all others. I could easily see me doing a blog about nothing but world building, writing different world building topics every day for the rest of eternity. Could I do it? Yes, but not here. I’m not going to turn Ryan S. Kinsgrove into a blog about world building. I’m not going to force a topical structure onto what is very brazenly a personal blog. Not going to do it. Not going to do it.


That doesn’t mean I won’t at some point, make a blog about world building and world building alone. But, I’ve got things that need to be straightened out first. Things I’m sure all of you are aware of. If you’re a living breathing adult in this society, you are most definitely aware.


I so don’t want to adult.


Just like I don’t want to turn Ryan S. Kinsgrove on its head and pretend the last four months of inconsistent posting have meant nothing. I have a very ADD personality, and I feel like my blog should be representative of that. I will be gaga for one thing this week, and totally hate it and curse its existence the next week. I could… Hey!!! Look!!! A Squirrel!!!!


Hi squirrel! Hi squirrely squirrely squirrely mcsquirrely pants!


Wait… Was I doing something? Oh, if I had a point, I lost it. Dang squirrels will do that to ya.


But, I am enjoying Jeff’s email course. He’s just starting to cover things I don’t think I’m ready to handle yet. Maybe I’ll keep those lessons secreted away in one of my unused email folders, and seek them out when I feel I’m far more ready for them.


Maybe, something like that.


Anyway, if you like the madness here at Ryan S. Kinsgrove you should click the subscribe button, via email or wordpress account either one is fine, and be sure to share me on all your favorite social media platforms. Spread the word about just how awesome Kinsgrove is.

10 Ways to Fail at Being a Writer (And Why You Should Do the Opposite) Part 2

Here’s a conveniently placed link, just in case you missed the first part of this post.

Don’t worry. I’ll wait while you get caught up.

Read it? Good.

Before we get started, I just wanted to say I have this horrible habit of being really long winded and super wordy. I’ve never quite learned the lesson that I need to kill my children… err… words. I need to kill my words. Or something like that. Anyway, what I’m getting at is you’re going to have to forgive me for writing overly long posts and then breaking them up into an arbitrary number of parts.

And, now… let’s get back on the path to failure.

  1. Don’t Read Inside Your Genre

I read that somewhere, as actual advice someone was giving. Thought I think the person giving the advice was making fun of the person who originally said it. But, on the path to failure, it’s a golden nugget of information. Reading inside your genre would give you an idea of what’s been done before, it will also expose you to different writing styles, world building techniques, and about a hundred other factors that would be super important in improving your writing.

But, Mr. Kinsgrove, my writing is already perfect, and I’ve got this awesome story idea about a boy that finds a dragon egg, and he’s destined to rebuild this ancient organization of dragon riders, all while he battles the last dragon rider who turned against his brothers, which is why the dragon riders aren’t around anymore.

That’s an awesome idea! It’s so awesome, not only is it literally stolen from another young adult fantasy novel, but the plot line is also drawn from a movie that is borderline fantasy in its nature while it tries to pretend to be science fiction. But, you wouldn’t know that because you’ve not read in your genre.

That doesn’t mean that the story idea is invalid, it worked very well for Christopher Paolini and George Lucas before him. It can also work well for you, but you’ve got to find another way to spin it, otherwise you’re going to have a hefty lawsuit on your hands. And, that’s a one hundred percent certain way to fail.

  1. Don’t Read Period

This is almost as good a way to assure your failure as not writing is. Reading is the act of studying how to write. Every time you sit down with a paperback novel, a part of your brain dedicates itself to pulling the work apart. Judging how the writer uses their talent and voice to create a sculpture of words. Your mind works with what you’ve read. It molds it and transforms it. Every book you read alters your writing style, even if only a tiny bit, but that book will have left an imprint on you. Knowing what magic that writer shared will make it a little easier for you to share your own magic.

On top of all the philosophical stuff, reading other writers helps teach you the hard and fast rules of writing, such as phrasing and grammar. It gives examples of when you should and shouldn’t leave out an oxford comma. (Never leave out an oxford comma. Ever. Period.) Another primary reason to read is so that you know the “rules” about writing, and you will see examples of how other people break those “rules”. This will help prepare you for the day when you break those “rules” yourself.

And, I can’t think of any other reasons to read right off the top of my head. There are hundreds of thousands of reasons to read, and every one of those reasons is an avenue towards better writing, and if you straight up want to fail at being a writer… you should avoid reading. In fact, there’s probably some mind numbing reality TV show on. I’m sure it has one of those Kardashians in it, or Cardassians, not sure which… they kind of look the same I suppose.

  1. Never Write Surprise Ideas Down

You know when you’re in the middle of taking a shower and this amazing idea comes to you about how a group of coal miners from West Virginia are going to be the first colonists on the moon. You know, right from the get go, from the first word you put on paper, that this would be a million-dollar best seller. A book that would sell more copies than the Bible. But, gosh darn it, I’m in the middle of something and I don’t have time to stop and write it down. Not even just a sentence to keep the idea alive in my mind. I’m sure I’ll remember it later.

You’ll regret that decision… unless of course, you want to fail at being a writer.

Surprise ideas are the fuel that feeds our creative fires. Those tiny moments in the day where something we see or hear or touch or smell strikes us in just the right way and we’re like hmm… I could see that being a story. Or you might find yourself asking “What if killer clowns roamed the streets terrorizing the populous and Batman was the answer to stopping them?” Or you might be reading a blog post, and be like “gosh, there are so many of these posts out there. I wonder what it would be like to write a post professing the exact opposite thing of the last inspirational post I read? I wonder if there was a way I could turn it into a satire too, and tweak it just enough so that I’m really expressing the same ideas but the delivery and voice of the post are kind of making fun of other posts of this nature?” I had a random idea along those lines, and I’m thinking it might become a whole series of posts.

Still, though, this is all about failing. What you need to do when these ideas come along is ignore them. Don’t quickly jot them down on a little notebook you carry around. Or don’t type them into the notes app on your phone. Don’t do anything at all that might preserve that idea for further perusal later. After all, who really wants to read about coal miners in space?

  1. Always Compare Yourself to Bestselling Authors

Yes, they’re selling hundreds of thousands, even millions of books, and how many have you sold? Hmm? What did your grandma buy a copy of your last self-pub? Did she even read it? I bet Dan Brown’s grandmother reads his books.

You’re just a failure, because Stephen King has sold fifty million copies of his latest book.

It can’t be because he’s had sixty + years of experience under his belt. And, it definitely can’t be because he’s spent the last sixty years doing everything, working every trick in the book, to build his audience to the point he’s at right now. I mean, come on, he was an overnight success. Carrie hit shelves and BAM! major movie deal. And, yeah, we totally need to gloss over the fact that he spent two decades of his life working on his craft. We can forget all the short stories he’d sold up to that point too. As well as the number of rejections Carrie went through before it was picked up by a publisher that turned out to be kind of a pity contract from the higher ups at Doubleday.

So, if you’re measuring stick is Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Dan Brown, Tom Clancy, and just about any other writer whose name has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, then… well, you’re guaranteed to fail. There’s a reason gaining levels in WoW is called grinding. The same is true in writing. You only get better by doing it, by reading everything you can, and by putting yourself out there.

If failure is your goal, go ahead and compare yourself to the big wigs, nothing like feeding the seething self-loathing growing in the pit of your stomach.

  1. Always Submit Your “Perfect” First Draft to Agents and Publishers

So, against every nugget of wisdom I’ve shared with you in this little post, you’ve gone and finished yourself a novel. It’s a massive thing, running better than five hundred pages, with at least two parts of the novel being an essay about the way buggers taste when seasoned with salt and pepper. But, it’s perfect, and you know it is.


Because bestsellers write massive novels, every single one of them. You never see a book by Stephen King with less than a hundred thousand words in it. And, by gum, you know your literary diamond is ten times the book Stephen King could ever hope to write.

Now, let’s see what else you did. This is your first draft. Good. Who needs feedback? We already covered that earlier in the list. Did you proofread for any grammatical errors or any other rules you might have missed? Nope, good. That’s right, the moment it touched the page it turned to gold. What to do with the book now?

Well, there’s only one answer. Now you start the submission process. Sit down and writer yourself a nice query letter, but ignore the guidelines on the agent and publishers page. Go ahead and send the whole novel, why not? I’m sure they’ll love it. After all, they’ve got all the time in the world, and this is YOUR novel after all. They have no choice but to sit down and read it the moment it drops into their inbox. And, yep, that sweet publishing contract is right around the corner. I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave you a six figure advance on that. After all, it’ll sell better than the Bible.

But, in case you did want to continue to ignore my advice at least listen to this. Put the book away for a couple of months. Start on another project. Read for six weeks straight, then come back to your monster. Look at it with new eyes, and wonder just what the hell you were thinking when you wrote it. Maybe it’s not gold, maybe it’s still somewhere in the area of a turd, but it can be turned around. Write another draft. Then find a critique partner, or a couple of them, or a whole group. Get them to look at the book and give it another run through the typewriter. Now, you might be looking at a book that’s worth submitting. So, go ahead and start that process, but while you’re doing that work on something new. Start a blog. Mingle with the writing community and maybe build yourself a fan base. There’s a reason Fifty Shades of Grey became an instant bestseller, and it’s not because of the quality of writing. Ah, the power of networking.

Anywho, those are my little pieces of wisdom when it comes to the world of failing as a writer. I’ll tell you what though, I hope I see you on the side of success. It’s always nice to know that it’s not an impossible goal to achieve, much as it seems like it is some times. So, sit tight, grab your pen, and keep writing. This world needs that 500-page monster of yours, we need your touch of magic to make us all a little better.

Consecutive Days Blogging: 3

The Professor: 10 Ways to Fail at Being a Writer (And Why You Should Do the Opposite) Part 1


Are you tired of all those inspirational listicles giving 10 reasons you should do this and 5 habits where you should do that? Well, I wanted to know what the other side of things looked like. Mainly, because I’ve been sitting on the other side of the fence for so long. Only recently have I decided to embrace the inspirational listicles and put my best foot forward as a writer.

However, that doesn’t mean I’ve not learned a great deal living on the other side of the fence. So, I’m going to share that extensive list of knowledge with you today. Then I’m going to try and point out why you should avoid doing it like the plague.

  1. Don’t Write:

In the number one spot we have what is probably the most obvious bad idea, if you consider yourself a writer. Writing is the number one most important thing you can do as a writer. Why? It says it in the name. Writer. I’m a writer. Well, what do you do? I write. That’s all, that’s it, the simplest answer in all the world. I write, because I must write. I write because it is second nature for me to sit down at a typewriter and bleed. I write because it is an essential ingredient in the recipe that is me. I write because it is a requirement for my brain to have any normal sort of function.

So, if you want to fail at being a writer, don’t write. Call yourself a writer all you want, but don’t do it. Find excuses to justify the time spent away from your desk. Tell the genius that’s dying to get out that you’re not in the mood to write today. Tell the muse she’s going to have to bring her ideas back some other day, because you’re too busy doing God only knows what. But, most of all, tell yourself you’ll get that book written, even if you never put your pen to paper. You’ll get that book “written” eventually.

  1. Don’t Network:

Networking is an absolutely terrible idea if you want to fail at being a writer. Why? Because a writer needs to get their name out into the world to get their work out into the world. Networking means that you would be interacting with like-minded people who might not only like your work, but they might like you as a person. They might even want to be friends. And, God it would just be terrible to have friends that already have established blogs where you might be able to do guest posts. Or if you were to have friends that would be willing to help with your writing process. You might find beta readers, people who will review your work, and most important of all you might find people you just generally like to be around.

So, to make a short list of the best ways to avoid networking. Don’t look for blogs discussing things similar in nature to your own work. Don’t join writers’ groups on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Don’t go to workshops. Don’t go to conferences. Don’t join online writing courses. And, above all, don’t look around for people who might be going through the same struggle you are, trying to find an agent, get published, make millions of dollars. Yep, the best way to fail is to do it all on your own, living under a rock. The safest most secure computer is one that’s never touched the internet.

  1. Neglect Your Blog

It’s all the rage to have a blog these days. If you can type two words together and know how to access the internet, then you should have a blog. So, even as a writer that wants to fail, you should totally go and start your own blog. Why? It’s not because you got this great idea to build an online platform and fan base by putting your work out there and sharing it with those like-minded individuals we were talking about in the networking section.

You should start a blog because it’s a great way to expound on your soul crushing depression. Why? Blog dashboards come with a way to watch the stats on your blog. You know, how many visits you get a day, how many of those are unique views, which ones are repeat readers, where your audience is coming from. It’s called analytics, and it’s a great way to ruin your day. I just wrote this awesome amazing blog post discussing the nature of Luke Skywalker’s relationship with his father, and about four people have read it. Well, maybe they read it. One was your mom. The other was your mother in law. The two others might have been people you could count as fans who don’t feel obligated to read and like everything you write. Although the average length of time spent checking that page was 3 seconds, gosh they must be awfully fast readers.

Another wonderful aspect to this level of failure is the point where you quit. You didn’t quit because it was a well thought out decision and an avenue to something better. Nope, you let the blog die a slow death. That first month you were posting every day. Then it was every other day. Then it was once a week. Then it was once every two weeks. And, now you can’t actually remember the last time you looked at your blog.

How’s that black hole of despair feel now? (I know when I hit that point I was pretty much sucked right into the depths of the pit, but enough about me.)

  1. Don’t Build an Online Platform

Building a platform is a bit of a combination of the last two reasons, and a whole lot of the bit about getting your work seen. Building a platform means taking this life seriously, grabbing it by the balls so to speak, and putting yourself and your work out into the world. That blog you started, it would have been a good place to start building your platform, but you probably would have needed to do a little bit of the networking—the part where you get your name out in the world—and a lot of the writing—that silly amount of time you would spend creating content for said blog—to get things to the point where you have people who, not only show up on your email list, but also frequently read your work and interact with you as a person. You might even have a fan or two if you did all that.

But. Nope. Building a platform is much too dangerous of an idea. I want to fail here, not accidentally succeed or something.

  1. Don’t Join a Critique Group

Why shouldn’t you join a critique group? Well, we are talking about ways to fail at being a writer, and “supposedly” joining a critique group is a way to make yourself a better writer. It’s this sort of situation where other people (ew, networking) look at your “perfect” stories and bits of novels and give you critical opinions of how to make your “perfect” writing better. But, then, everything that comes from your pen is perfect isn’t it? Well, if you don’t think so then I don’t think you know where this failing thing is going. Everything ever written is perfect the moment it hits a sheet of paper. It’s not like revising and writing multiple drafts of a story using critical information gleaned from a number of trusted peers is going to do anything to help make your writing stronger.

–And, on side note as the author, I’ve just realized I’m extremely long winded and really wordy. So, to prevent this post from getting to long I’ve decided to split it into two parts. Keep your eyes peeled for part two, that is if you want to be a failure. Check back for part 2 next Wednesday on another does of the  Professor.