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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #397

Three More to Go

Not that I’m counting or anything. LOL

It just dawned on me that there is a whole new generation of writers on HP who have no idea how cool this site was ten years ago. It was a happening place, with some very helpful staff and some very helpful senior writers who were eager and willing to take a novice under their wings. Rumor has it there were even some HP conventions/get-togethers across the country, although I never attended one of them.

Oddly, in all the time I’ve been with HP, I’ve only met two HP writers in person, Stephanie and Linda. I would have loved to have met more, and maybe I will as my wife and I travel the country in our RV, but that is now one of my great HP regrets. I would love to meet as many of you as possible because, well, you’re all members of this really cool club I have proudly belonged to for a decade, and you are also my friends.

Maybe one day!

Time for the mail!

The Mail Room!

The Mail Room!

Turn, Turn, Turn

From Ann: “Which season of the year do you find affords the best inspiration and why?”

Ann, you made my answer a little tougher by saying “best inspiration.” For sure, winter is when I do more writing than in any other season, simply because of the cruddy weather around here November through March. It’s either write or go outside and get drenched in the winter, and I’ve always found writing much more enjoyable.

But inspiration? I think the Fall. I get reflective in the Fall, and I also find the dazzling colors to be inspirational for me. Summers are too hot to write for any length of time, and Spring, I don’t know, I guess Spring comes close. No changing your mind, Bill. I’m committing to the Fall!

Fall inspires me

Fall inspires me

Creating Tension in a Story or Novel

From Robert: “I know you’ve dabbled with the thriller genre in your Shadow series. I was wondering if you had any tips on how to create tension when telling a story or when writing a novel. Any help would be appreciated.”

Robert, I truly do not believe that question has never been asked. Of course, my memory ain’t what it used to be, but I sure don’t recall anyone asking such a question, so thank you.

There are a number of ways a writer can keep the readers on the edge of their seats. Those ways would include the following:

  • Keep adding complications, problems, and dangers to the story
  • Keep varying the tension levels; go from calm to tense, calm to tense, always keeping the readers unsettled.
  • Activate the readers’ emotions. Make them feel the tension by tapping into the primal in all of us.
  • Don’t kill the tension by using too many backstories or backstories which are too long.
  • Use reversals and twists to constantly keep the readers guessing.

Those are just some of the ways you can keep a novel moving and provide edge-of-your-seat entertainment.

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Good luck!

Create tension by writing a tense setting

Create tension by writing a tense setting

Is Community Even Important Anymore on Hp?

From Andrea: “I know you’ve talked a lot about how important HP was in giving you confidence to continue when you first started out, but I’m wondering if being an active part of the HP community has any benefits? I want to advance my writing career, and I’m having a hard time understanding how HP benefits me as I go forward. Care to shed some light on that?”

Well, there we are, Andrea! Your question says so much about what HP has become, and I thank you for it. Times they are, indeed, a’changin, aren’t they?

If I’m being perfectly blunt and honest, I will say that you are not far off the mark. What HP does for you is give you a public forum where your articles and short stories can be distributed to the larger web community. Yes, you could do the same thing from your own blog or website, but HP probably does that aspect of publishing better than you ever will.

Beyond that, however, and to get to the heart of your question, becoming an active member of the HP community really doesn’t do much to increase your viewership. I mean, jumping on the forums, creating forums for comments, even commenting, none of that is going to significantly pump up your views or increase your viewership on Google. You would be much better served, in my humble opinion, by spending your time learning as much as you can about online marketing and online self-promotion.

Did it help more in the past? Maybe! Perhaps! Possibly! It made ME feel better being a part of a community. It made me feel good to comment and to give support to other writers, but did it help in advancing their careers, or my career? Maybe . . . maybe not!

If your goal is to advance your writing career, Andrea, then I say post on HP and spend the rest of your time learning your craft (becoming the best writer you can be), and learning how to promote yourself in an effective way. If that truly is your goal, I wouldn’t spend a whole lot of time commenting or thumbing through the countless HP forums. Get out there and P.T. Barnum the hell out of your writing.

Good luck! It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there in the Big Boy/Girl Writing World. The odds of you “making it” are extremely poor, but some do and why not you, eh?

And Another

That’s all I’ve got this week in the way of questions, so we might as well put a wrap on #397. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this post. I appreciate each and every one of you, and when the inevitable HP ending comes, I will hold you closely in my heart and mind.

Hey, be on the lookout for our Elusive Travel Trailer. I would love to meet you in person, so wave us down when we are driving through your neighborhood.

2022 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Practicing my HP retirement

Practicing my HP retirement

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