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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #388

Thank the Gods for December

We just wrapped up what is traditionally our wettest and stormiest month here in Western Washington. November is a trial most years here in the northwest corner of the United States. I like to say that anyone thinking of moving here should spend the month of November here on a trial basis. If they finish out that month and still believe Western Washington is beautiful, well, they are made of the right stuff to live here full-time.

November is the month we are visited by “The Pineapple Express,” a stream of moisture which literally stretches from Hawaii to our doorstep, like someone is pointing a giant fire hose at us. The “Pineapple” usually means four or five days of continual rain. We had two of them this month, with a three-day break in-between. Temperatures soared into the 60’s, mountain snows melted, streams rose above their banks, and entire towns were suddenly under water.

Thank the gods for December!

Shall we tackle the Mailbag for this week?

Welcome to the Mail Room!

Welcome to the Mail Room!

Increased Freelance Work

From John: “Bill, I just read the latest Mailbag and found it a good read as usual. It is certainly different without having other comments to read though. I didn’t know if this was the best way to comment, but as you say you don’t like the forums so here it is.

“In regard to freelancing. It certainly can be lucrative. I may not have said that after the first year or two, but now I am making a similar amount as you per month and turning down some jobs. My demand actually increased about the time COVID emerged and hasn’t looked back. Do you think that was a coincidence, or do you think demand for freelance writing services may have a direct link with the pandemic?”

Thanks for mentioning that, John! I noticed the same thing with my freelancing load, and no, I don’t think it was a coincidence. The marketplace as a whole changed during that 2020-2021 stretch of pandemic. Many brick-and-mortar businesses closed. Many other changed their work profile to stay-at-home, and instead of marketing for the original storefront they suddenly had to market for an online presence . . . and that meant more freelance writing gigs.

The good news for freelancers? I don’t think things will change in the near future. I think there are going to be more freelance gigs during the next couple years. I think online marketing is going to swell as the marketplace adjusts to the new reality.

That’s just my opinion, but I think this is a good time for freelancers to be freelancers.

story structure improves with practice

story structure improves with practice

Story Structure

From Ann: “I want to write a novel about the experiences of four friends living in the 1950s. Can I write a few chapters at the beginning that show their relationship to each other and then as each of their stories develop, start writing a chapter about each character until the end where I would bring them back together?”

You bet it can. I’ve seen it done before with great success. The key to this type of plot structure is making sure the connections are obvious and that the story flows well. Disjointed chapters will only confuse the readers, but chapters which flow into the next and into the next, with common threads throughout, will produce a very satisfying book in the end.

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Good luck!

Changing POV within a novel is quite acceptable.

Changing POV within a novel is quite acceptable.

Changing Point of View Within a Chapter

From Robert: “How can I change the third person POV to the first person POV? to let the readers feel the scene? in one chapter?”

I would suggest against doing it in one chapter, Robert. It can be done, but it takes a master wordsmith and storyteller to pull it off successfully. That’s not to say you aren’t a master wordsmith, but I am saying it is a tough trick to perform successfully.

By all means, switch POV from one chapter to the next, if you want. That is much easier to do. I’ve done it many times in my Shadow novels, and so far none of my loyal readers have expressed confusion. But switching within the same chapter? You could do it by simply leaving a couple blank lines at the end of one POV, before staring the next POV. You could do it by injecting a little guidance sentence, like “Meanwhile, in Toronto . . . “ but that just seems cumbersome to me, and a bit contrived.

By the way, many successful novelists change POV in their novels, with great success, and they all switch in new chapters. I figure it it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.

Thanks to All

Just a quick word of thanks for all of you who are still reading the Mailbag, despite the obstacles presented by HP and their new format. I appreciate you taking the time to find a way to comment despite HP’s best efforts to drown you out. Remember, if you have a question for the Mailbag, you can email it to me at You can also find me on Facebook under Bill Holland.

By the way, Bev and I are going to purchase a drone this month. Do any of you own a drone? Any recommendations? If so, can you email me and let me know which one you prefer? Thank you!

Happy December to you all! I hope this holiday season brings you a bounty of blessings and happiness.

2021 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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