Monthly Archives: November 2012

Based on a True Story - Why Basing Characters on Real People Can Go Bad

I have more than a few ex’s…. No I am not a dog and I am not bragging…I just tend to make bad choices when it comes to spouses. (With the exception of the one I have now) I’m a nice person and as a nice person I tend to fall in with folks who take advantage…a lot. (Or rather I used to) Now lots of people do as I do so what makes it worse for me as a writer? I also tend to create characters based on people I know….and this can go bad.

Every writer creates characters based on the people around them. It’s a great way to kill someone off who has made you mad; as a writer, revenge can be sweet. It is also a great way to pay homage to someone you truly love. But it can also jack you up as I recently discovered. Here’s what happened…

I started a book about 10 years ago that I really enjoyed working on. I got it about half way completed and then life took over, things went horribly wrong with the relationship I was in and the manuscript got shoved into my steamer trunk (and yes I do have one) in a smaller box marked crap-I’d-like-to-forget-because-this-person-in-my-life-was-evil stuff. Here I am now, years later and I come across the manuscript and I re-read it. I find myself thinking, hey, this is a great story, I should finish it. So I dust the manuscript off and sit down to finish it….and…I…can’t….

The reason for the block? I really harbor some seriously deep scars from that relationship and one of the main characters is based on that person. I have tried changing the names, the situation, everything I can think of and still…the story won’t finish. I have shot my story by using a person I thought I cared deeply for.

So here is my advice, unless you have a way around this problem that you would like to share, don’t use the person you “love” as a character in a story. Yes, it’s sweet. Yes, it might get you more time in the sack because he/she thinks that you are wonderful for having immortalized them. Yes, it may start out as a great story because your own passion is involved. BUT, if the relationship goes wrong…buddy, you are screwed because all of the good feeling that began with that story turns to crap and the story will lose its way. (Unless you can find a way to kill that character off and then it can be great therapy!)


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.




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Posted by on November 22, 2022 in Character Studies, Writing


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Black Friday Deals for Writers…Why Not Just Be as Crazy as the Rest of them?

Writer’s Note – This is Monday’s Column

My spouse is a crazy person. Every year they gather up all our disposable income (And some that is not so disposable…but that’s a whole other type of article) and heads out with the shopping zombies for Black Friday. Our youngest son is the only person in the family brave enough to go along and needless to say they come back with some great deals and horrendous stories about the complete loss of humanity that takes place on this combat laden day. I bow in awe every year.

This year I was made to take a small part in the Black Friday madness by being sat down in front of my computer and having to cruise through the Black Friday ads. You know the ones that come out last week announcing the sales…it’s like putting small children onto fish hooks and baiting sharks…it’s wrong and disturbing. Still, I sat there and looked through the ads and I have to admit, some of the deals are pretty amazing. Not knock little old ladies down in Walmart amazing but still….

So I have decided to drag all of you into the madness with me. I am going to post the links to some of the things that were in the ads that I think will appeal to the writer in you. I’m not saying that you have to don body armor and head out with the shopping zombies but you may want to give the spouse who may be crazy enough to do it a small list entitled, “Crap I would Love to Have too”.

Folding Fire Bowl – One of those little outdoor fire pits. $29.00

Movies - $6

Best Buy -!/door+busters

15.6″ Laptop - 4GB Memory - 500GB Hard Drive - $346 – I have it on good authority that this is a good little laptop

HP - Deskjet Network-Ready Wireless Color e-All-In-One Printer - $39.00

HP - Deskjet 3520 Wireless All-In-One Printer - $49 (I want one of these)

WD - My Passport 2TB External USB 3.0/2.0 Portable Hard Drive – Silver - $129 (This is a steal)

There were too many things to list from Amazon and this is perfect for those of us who just want to stay home.

So these are just a few of the deals I found. There are a lot of stores having these sales but my spouse tells me that, in order to take part, one must have a battle plan. My plan is to let the spouse do it…I think that is a pretty good plan… So take a look at the ads and jump into the commercialism of the holidays…you never know what you might discover.


(Disclaimer – Writer of this article is not responsible for any injuries incurred while readers of said article are out on Black Friday. Writer is also not responsible for any one being made fun of due to being out on Black Friday…)


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on November 20, 2022 in Writing


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Reset Sunday – Don’t Work so Hard that you Miss it

Have you ever had one of those weeks when Monday rolls around and you find yourself looking in the mirror asking, “what the heck happened to my weekend”…well that was me this week. I am just now catching up with myself.

Now I could blame it on the holiday season, the fact that my spouse needed to put up the Christmas tree this weekend, (I know, I know…it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet…I tried that argument and lost) or that I have to get the house ready for relatives. (I have an extensive “honey do” list) But the truth is, I failed myself. When it came down to what I would give up in order to complete the extra tasks I opted for watching the Walking Dead instead of writing or taking Reset Sunday to reset. Shame on me…. (For not writing or resetting, I love the Walking Dead…)

As the holiday season gets into full swing we have to be conscious of the fact that craziness abounds. We, as writers, need to be mindful of our writing time and our reset time now more than ever. So make sure that in-between relatives and those glasses of Brandy you take a few moments for you too. You don’t want to get to January and find yourself looking in the mirror and asking, “what the heck happened to December?”


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Posted by on November 20, 2022 in Healthy Writers, Writing


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Forgive me for I have Sinned…Say 115 Hail Stephen Kings and Move on My Child…..

This week I have been behind on my columns. As many of you know, I got a new dog and he has been a time sponge. I wanted him to feel welcome and I spent a lot of time trying to make him feel at home and to bond with him. Do you know what that little fur covered Benedict Arnold did? He bonded with my spouse….now he only pays attention to me when the spouse isn’t around. (So much for being “my dog”)

So I sat down yesterday morning and as I looked at the blog site I suddenly felt like a guilt ridden catholic school girl who forgot to put on underwear before church. I was behind on my columns and I felt like I was cheating my readers. In my mind’s eye I saw many of my followers gathering in a corn field in Ohio to burn an effigy of me chanting, “bad writer, bad writer”… I sat for a long time, admonishing myself and eating the last of the Twinkies on my desk drawer, before I started trying to catch up…

This column will catch me up and I feel really good about that but I also realized something after checking the newswire this morning….no one burned me in effigy. (whew) I realized that my followers must realize that I am human (and sort of retarded when it comes to dogs) and so they forgave me my indiscretion. But you know what…despite that realization I was still having a hard time forgiving myself.

My point is this…there will be times when you won’t make the grade when it comes to your personal writing goals. You won’t hit that set word count, you won’t finish that book on exactly the right day, you will miss writing that column once or twice…it’s okay. You have to forgive yourself…it’s an important part of moving forward. I could have sat here, said screw it, had another Twinkie and then just skipped those columns I missed but I didn’t. I simply forgave myself and pushed on through.

So if you miss a goal, whatever it is, not just in writing, forgive yourself and move forward. Life happens, dogs come to stay, children get sick, husbands and wives need to be kicked out…life just marches forward…so forgive yourself and move with it and remember that you are perhaps the most important person that you can forgive…..


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Posted by on November 17, 2022 in Writing


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Delicious M. Twinkie, Dead at 82

Delicious M. Twinkie (The M stands for “My”) passed away yesterday after a long Union battle. He was 82 years old. Mr. Twinkie was born in Schiller Park, Illinois in 1930. His father was James Alexander Dewar and his mother was a strawberry shortcake machine that passed away soon after his birth. He was named after a shoe. (no kidding)

Mr. Twinkie was an extraordinary member of society during his time as America’s Favorite Snack and had quite a colorful life. He served with the military in several wars beginning with World War II when he underwent a change from banana filling to cream filling.  Mr. Twinkie has seen many different occupations, some notorious. He is the only snack food to serve time in both kids’ lunches and with stoners after a good cannabis session.  Mr. Twinkie has served diligently as the general of the snack world and although he has been challenged for his title over and over again, no one can resist his appeal as a snack that may well out last the cockroaches after a nuclear bomb. (He was said to have been quite proud of that)

Twinkie was preceded in death by his mother the strawberry cake machine and his father James. He is survived by his sister Donets, three brothers Ho Ho and the Zinger Twins (Chocolate and Coconut covered), a step-sister Fruit Pie (and her many multi-flavored children), two step brothers, Cupcake and Ding Dong as well as his Uncle Wonder Bread. (There have been rumors over the years that Ding Dong was adopted but at press time this could not be clarified.)

Twinkie will be missed by many. During the initial announcement it was reported by mass media that stoners everywhere lit a bong in his honor and then cried helplessly as they couldn’t find him to eat in local stores. Parents everywhere are scurrying to find a replacement snack for the lunches of hundreds of thousands of little grade school children. Twinkie will be missed for his spongy yet oily cake and his creamy filling. A memorial service will be held however details will not be announced until the last Twinkie package has left the store shelves.

Rest in Peace my little Spongy friend…Rest in Peace…..


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Posted by on November 17, 2022 in Uncategorized, Writing


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Laptop vs. Desktop vs. iPad - A Fight to the Death…OR at Least to the End of my Book

I have a dilemma. I have a desktop that I write on currently but I also have my iPad which I have done some writing on, but not a lot. I want a laptop although when my oldest son asks me why, I have no good reason other than the standard 3 year old response, “because I want one”. Over the past few days it has gotten me to thinking…what exactly do I need to write? What would be the best avenue? And…can I save myself some money and thus the wrath of my spouse by using what I have instead of buying another laptop? (With me a laptop is akin to disposable razors…they only last so long and then I have to replace it)

I have been writing on a keyboard ever since I talked myself into my very first computer. In 1983 I bought a Commodore 64…I swear I really did…and I was smitten with the concept of being able to write in a way that did not require a pen and my keeping track of a zillion notepads. Back then computers were huge and carrying it around would have made you look like Dale, the crazy homeless guy in our town who carries around the bumper of a 1968 Ford Truck. (No one knows why and I think everyone is afraid to ask him) Today, that has all changed and not only can you carry a computer around but some are small enough that you can stuff it into your pocket. (I know…crazy…right?) I am in heaven with the choices now…but there are too many choices and I am finding myself considering the road to data storage and wondering, “will there ever be something that is “enough”.

For those of you who have been living in a cave…the changes to data storage over the last 20 years has been ridiculous…we went from big floppy, to hard floppy, to click storage, (you remember these, they were little round metal disks that fit into a card reader) to CD’s, to DVD’s, to something we call “the cloud” now. (I don’t know about you but “the Cloud” sounds so ominous) Computers have become like those data storage changes….you can buy one today and it is obsolete by noon tomorrow…it’s frustrating.

So there-in lies my problem….I want something that I can do my writing on, carry around with me and be able to fulfill all my needs. I think that might be an iPad. It does have everything I need on it to write and it provides a distraction free zone because you can’t multitask with it, you have to focus on one thing at a time. BUT…I think that my brain is hardwired for a desktop or a laptop because I find myself questioning if the iPad is enough….

So what do you think readers and writers? Which should I choose and why? Help a fellow writer out here because I’m just driving myself crazy…



© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.




Posted by on November 17, 2022 in Business of Writing, Writing


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Christmas is Coming and I DO NOT Want a Pony…unless it can Edit

Last week I began a project that is designed to run through until Christmas. The idea is to suggest gifts that you can buy the writer in your life OR to give you writer’s out there some things to put on your Christmas list thus quelling your loved ones need to buy you pajama pants again this year. There are lots of gifts out there; you just have to know where to look.

So here is your second set of gift ideas. Look for the header “Christmas is Coming and I DO NOT Want…(to be filled in later)” for further gift ideas and let’s help writers get what writers want!

  1. Imagination Tree – This cute little site offers writer’s gift sets, pens and journals. I don’t know about you but I love little things like this because I can order and send a gift straight to a fellow writer.
  2. Scrivener – Many of you know what a big Scrivener fan I am. This is, in my humble opinion, the best writing program EVER. It’s affordable and, once you use it, you will never use anything else.
  3. Pilot’s Pen – Let’s be honest…this is just plan cool. It’s a pen that lights up and I am a sucker for anything that lights up.
  4. Writer’s Digest Magazine – Yes I am one of the few who still believe in magazines as a source of resources. This is the best writer’s mag. Well worth the $20 a year.
  5. Jot Stylus – This is a really cool stylus for those of you who use a smart phone with a touch screen or a tablet. I had a hard time finding one of these that I liked but this one hit the mark.

So there are your second five gift ideas. Watch for next week’s column for five more….I have had some good response from writers in terms of helping them help themselves by populating those Christmas (or whatever holiday) lists.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.




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Posted by on November 16, 2022 in Writing


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Yes, I Need the Money…No, I Don’t Want to Date Your Frog for It - How to Tell a Scam Job

Writer’s Note: This is Wednesday’s column…I’ve been trying to get used to a very needy dog this week.

Work…we all need it, especially this time of the year. I don’t know about you guys but I try and pile on as much as I can because Christmas is coming and my spouse loves to shop for Christmas. I cruise the freelance sites, Craigslist…where ever I can just to rake in a few more bucks. Here’s the rub though…because it’s that time of the year the folks who need honest writing are not the only ones trolling for writers…the dishonest people are out there too, just waiting to take advantage of that writer who needs a few extra bucks.

I am sorry to admit it, I have been taken advantage of a lot over the years. I’m kind hearted and my spouse will tell you that I’m not a half-full, half-empty type of guy…I’m so optimistic, I’m just happy there is a glass at all and this sets me up every time. Got a sob story about how you lost your job, your truck and your dog but still need some writing done? Yep, I fall for that. Got a story about how you were born illiterate with one finger on each hand and your wife left you for a guy with six fingers on each hand? Yep, I fall for that one too. I’m often so busy trying to “help” I might as well be swindling myself out of money.

So how do you tell if a person is trying to take advantage of you?

  • If the job is too good to be true – If a job sounds too good…i.e. I’ll pay you $100 for two 250 word pieces…it probably is. Take a step back and look at the project. One sure way to find out…tell the client you will need half up front, if they are scamming you, you will never hear from them again.
  • If there is no way to contact the client – If a client refuses to communicate through anything but e-mail and the e-mail is something bizarre like it’s probably fake.
  • If the job promises to pay you once a month through PayPal when the moon is full and only if it rains – A client who puts too many restrictions on paying you…doesn’t want to pay you. Clients need to pay you buy your specs not theirs.
  • If others have posted “Don’t fall for this” - Many times other writers will post on boards who is a scam and who isn’t. Take the time to make sure that you just type in the clients name or e-mail into Google..if they have scammed other writers, they will pop up.

These are just a few of the ways you can tell that a potential client is not on the up and up. The bottom line is, take the time to vet your clients. That little extra time that you spend making sure that the work is honest and worth it, the less time you have to listen to your spouse tell you that you shouldn’t jump at every job out there. (Trust me, the extra research is worth it)

© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on November 16, 2022 in Writing


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A Lesson from a Major Screw Up…or is it a “General” Screw up???

This week we have been inundated with the story of General David Petraeus and his antics as a man. We have been allowed access to parts of his private life I could have just a soon never have known about. His screw ups, and there are many, have been put on display for everyone to judge, laugh at or commiserate with. I have tried not to read a lot of the stories although I have to admit, the old newspaper reporter in me has been curious from time to time. I did read an article today that gave a basic rundown of what happened in the Petraeus household. (Gotta feel for the guy’s wife) It gave a timeline of what happened and when it happened. I read it and thought, ah ha! There is today’s column….

Throwing out the actual story for a minute I would implore you to actually read this particular article on the whole circus. And here is why…this is an excellent example of how a time line should weigh out in your novels. Seriously, this is a real life blow by blow of a story that is literally telling itself…how easy would it be to write this novel? The reporters involved in putting it together left no stone unturned and provided the reader with a stepping stone walkway to the end of the story so far. If you follow this format when writing a novel you wouldn’t go wrong.

As I read the article all my mind kept doing was filling in the story. A good timeline should provide the writer with just that, an easy to follow map (NOT from Apple) to the story that you can then “flesh out”. Forget the Petraeus story itself, it’s not important (and on most levels it is ridiculous) but look at how the story is holding onto readers worldwide. Part of the reason why is because it is so well laid out.

So take a look at the above article, only read it from the perspective of your current project. How much easier would it be to write the story if you laid out your own timeline and then just filled in the story? This might not work for everybody but it’s worth a try because on the surface…it seems a great solution if you are running into roadblocks on that story that you just must write.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on November 13, 2022 in Structure, Writing


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I Got a New Dog and He’s Completely in Control Now

Writer’s Note: Monday’s Column…read it and you’ll understand why it’s late.

I did something kind of stupid…I got a dog…and now my life is in shambles. He’s been here 24 hours.

His name is Castle, (yes after Richard Castle of the television fame) he’s a Yorkie but not the little mini one, he’s full sized which makes him about 8 lbs., (he’s more medium than small) and he’s “people oriented”.

Now you might be asking yourself, “what the heck does ‘people oriented’ mean? I did too when the former owner said it yesterday as she dropped the dog off with his brush, a down-filled coat (he looks like a little duck hunter in it) and his travel kennel. She said he just prefers to be with people….and that, my friends, was an understatement.

Castle is a good dog so far, don’t get me wrong. My daughter is in love, my sons said ‘he’s small’ and my spouse (our family dog whisperer) was firmly attached 10 minutes after getting home from work last night. The concept of “we’ll try this out” is gone and has been replaced with “get used to him cause he ain’t goin nowhere”. But back to the “people oriented” thing….

Castle is a bit codependent on people. While I wanted a dog that would sit by my desk as I wrote, I got one that prefers to sit on my feet. He whines when anyone leaves and he has a need to “check in” (i.e. jump up in your lap and onto your desk) about every 20 minutes. Oh and did I mention he pittles in the house if you don’t take him out to the “front” yard? (Yep that was me in my robe and slippers waving hello to the neighbors as they left for work this morning.)

So….I got a dog. He’s been here 24 hours and he’s already running the show….I just didn’t see that one coming….


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Posted by on November 13, 2022 in Uncategorized, Writing


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