You Never Know What Will Happen

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A Short Review of The War of Art

Review by Jim Middleton

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

By Steven Pressfield


Recently, the guild had a presentation by Larry Roth on writing. During his talk, he brought up a book that he said had helped him a lot. It was this book.

I got lucky. At the end of his talk, Jennifer Vandenberg, another writer in the guild with an amazing collection of books on writing, leaned over and asked if I wanted to borrow it. It might have been the best thing that happened to me that week.

Usually in reviews, the reviewer talks about what is in the book and maybe quotes some lines from it. At least, I usually do. In this case, what is in the book is important, but not as important, as what it can do for the reader. So, I am going to go with that. Because actually, what matters in a book is what the reader gets from it.

Specifically, at the time Larry gave the talk, I had a number of distractions that couldn’t be ignored and I was allowing that to let me not write.

This book, “The War of Art”, let me get back to writing every day. For that I am very appreciative.

If you find yourself not getting the writing done that you want to get done, I would highly recommend reading “The War of Art.” Any creative endeavor requires intense repetitive effort. Go for it. Fight the battles, write the words, create. Read “The War of Art.”

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A Short Review of Writing Fantasy Heroes

“…when for all others, all hope is gone and despair and defeat are inevitable, for a hero, there is always something that can be done.”  ~James Barclay

When learning to write it’s best to get tips from many experts since not all advice works for everyone. In Writing Fantasy Heroes, seventeen bestselling authors provide helpful hints for creating the best hero (fantasy or otherwise) possible. The topics range from creating realistic fight scenes (Brandon Sanderson) to making your hero be a responsible adult (Alex Bledsoe).

I could go on, but luckily for us, our own Jim Middleton has written a review of this writing resource. He has read this book more than once, so he is the perfect person to give his opinion as to usefullness.

Writing Fantasy Heroes, Edited by Jason Waltz

Review by Jim Middleton

When you start swimming in the Sea of Stories as Glen Cook calls it, you have access to more stories, thoughts, and characters than can ever be written about. Granted, you limit yourself as soon as you type the first word or even the first letter but that just means that you can only write about a fraction of the infinite. I think that is enough.

Certainly, as stories evolve they take on a life of their own, certain things have to be told, certain actions carried out. Central to all of this is the hero or heroine.

As Orson Scott Card says, they can be disguised or displaced but inevitably they will appear. You can have heroes who seek to be heroic or ones who run from it. The ones who fall into it from circumstance, birth, or time and place. How do you write well about the reluctant hero, who is acting to save the community at large? How does the reluctant come to embrace it? How do you balance reluctance and willingness? What will the hero give up in exchange for achieving their goal?

Bandon Sanderson takes you through how to create great fight scenes. From the mechanics of words, sentences and paragraphs to blocking out scenes and creating clarity to most importantly “put a reader directly into the character’s head, give the reader direct thoughts, motivations, and emotions.”

Above, I gave you a few of the words, thoughts, and phrases that a couple of the authors used. There are more authors, more in-depth articles and most importantly more ideas that you can chew on to make your writing better and more engaging for readers and yourself.

I believe much of the work pertains to more than just writing fantasy and even if you just enjoy good writing, you can find this book a worthwhile investment.

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It’s Time for our Annual Potluck

Once a year, we all gather together, eat good food, and enjoy the fellowship of our fellow writers without the structure of a planned program. This year our potluck is being held on Friday, May 19, 2017. Marcia and Doyle have graciously offered their home for the potluck, so mark the date, prepare a dish, and head up into the hills for a fun evening.

You are welcome to bring any food you like. If you want to let us know ahead of time so there aren’t a lot of duplicates, you can post on Amy’s Facebook post on our group. Or just bring something delicious and surprise us.

Larry will be sending out an email with directions to Marcia and Doyle’s home. If you still need directions, email our President, Pat Thompson at

Annual Potluck

What: Lewis County Writer Guild’s annual potluck

Where: Marcia and Doyle’s house (see Larry’s email)

When: Friday, May 19, 2017, arrive between 5 and 6 p.m.

Hope to see you there!

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A Short Review of Orson Scott Card’s Book, Character and Viewpoint

By Jim Middleton

For people with no formal training in writing, Orson Scott Card presents excellent examples of writing and theory on how character development, narrator choice and manipulation, what viewpoint you chose, and what character you use as pov interact to affect your story in ways great and small. This simple country boy got a lot of my questions answered about storytelling, and I learned a lot of technique that I had never considered.

I will just lightly pass over a couple concepts he presents.

When you are using third person, the narrator is just a storyteller who can move from person to person. In first person, the narrator is a character in the story with no wall between himself and the audience (even if the author maintains one.) Which is why in first person, the story is frequently told as a story within a story, i.e. characters sitting around a campfire telling a story, etc.

First person distances the reader from the story as it is told as it happened in the past. In third person, the story is usually told in past tense but feels immediate. But, in third person, the narrator is never a character directly so is distant from the story compared to first person who is a character.

In third person omniscient, you can save time and pages explaining situations but it can be hard to get as close to a character as you do in a deep dive into a character in third person limited.

Speaking of, your narrator can be at a cinematic distance from the pov character where she only sees and hears what the character is doing or she can be in a light dive into the pov character and see the surface thoughts and emotions or can do a deep dive into the pov characters thoughts and emotions. By using a combination it is possible to draw the reader in very closely to the character and begin to care greatly for the character and what happens.

Orson Scott Card shows ways to overcome built-in issues and enhance strong points of each of the ways of writing. There is obviously a lot more.

I would like to thank Jennifer Vandenberg for introducing me to Orson Scott Card’s How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, as I might never have read these books that have introduced me to so much.


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Insights from an Amateur Writer – Jim Middleton’s Friday Program

Jim Middleton joined our group last year and in that time he has worked hard on his story and it shows. On Friday, April 21, he will pull back the curtain on how he has improved as a writer. Since we all feel like beginners at some point, (some of us feel that way every time we start writing) this program will be insightful for everyone.

If you are wondering what Jim will be talking about, below is his broad outline. I love how stream of conscience it is.

“An untrained writer starts writing every day

First thing is to write.  

Learn to self-edit, rewrite and get better. Where do you learn how?

Organize a world, a reason for the story, a plot, a starting point. Where do you learn how?

Where do you find people who have struggled to learn to write and are patient? Why yes, bring your work to the Writer’s Guild. Be patient yourself and listen to what you need to learn.

What do you use for a writing tool? Wordpad, Scrivener, Word 2016. Why do I still use all of them?

What the heck is pov? Why write narrative in past tense and dialog in present?  What is third person limited? Where do you find out what this stuff is?

Is there more, going from stream of consciousness to professional writing?

And yes, the presenter is an amateur, who is eight months in. Examples will be shown.

Keep writing.”

Insights from an Amateur Writer

Speaker: Jim Middleton

What: Lewis County Writer Guild’s monthly meeting

Where: The Station Coffee Bar and Bistro, 120 S Tower Ave, Centralia, WA

When: Friday, April 21, 2017, 5 p.m. social hour, 6 p.m. program

Hope to see you there!

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Yes, you can sell your book in places other than Amazon – Kyle’s Friday Program

Author Kyle Pratt will speak at the Lewis County Writers Guild meeting on Friday, March 17th at The Station Coffee Bar & Bistro, in Centralia. He will be teaching  indie publishing, specifically how use distributors such as Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and others to create books, ebooks, and audiobooks.

Kyle will identify free programs to assist with book creation and where to find affordable professional book designers. He will also show how to authors can create audiobooks at home for little cost or have them done professionally using the Internet.

Yes, you can sell your book in places other than Amazon

What: Lewis County Writer Guild’s monthly meeting

Where: The Station Coffee Bar and Bistro, 120 S Tower Ave, Centralia, WA

When: Friday, March 17, 2017, 5 p.m. social hour, 6 p.m. program

Hope to see you there!


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