You have questions. Ask away.

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your humble host

This blog has long been a friendly place to come and learn, and what better way to learn than to ask?

You have questions. Writer stuff, marketing, motivation, you name it.

ASK ME

Your questions. Your challenges. Your issues.

If I don’t know, we’ll put it out to my vast network of author friends and get an answer. Or I’ll make something up.

 

Many people helped me when I was starting out because I was willing to ask what I needed to know.

That shortened my learning curve substantially.

– Dan Alatorre

So go ahead. Ask me anything.

12 thoughts on “You have questions. Ask away.

    • 1. Write a lot.
      2. Learn from other good writers in critique groups. They’re out there and you’ll find them if you look. Take the advice that makes you a better writer and don’t get defensive. Learn.
      3. Don’t sit on your stuff. Let the world see it.

      Most of you are better writers than you think, but most writing from most new writers/ amateurs/ etc., never sees the light of day. That’s a shame.

      There’s more, obviously, but I think that’s a good start.

      Liked by 3 people

      • There are some areas when I’m writing a book where I feel it gets plotless. It happened to me once but I completed that book anyway because I wanted to have one complete piece so I could move with another and then another, and one day maybe I improve for my writing to be the way I want.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Think about outlining the story first. A day or two of planning usually eliminates getting stuck later, and if you come up with better plot points, you can use them – just change your outline!

          Congrats for finishing the stuck story. That’s big. Ten starts with no finishes is no way to go.

          Liked by 3 people

            • You are very welcome.

              I talk to lots and lots of writers and I’m not the only one who believes that a little bit of outlining goes a way. Most people feel like they are sacrificing their creativity when they outline, but I find just a few basic points listed about where the stories is to go, that helps 99% of the people actually get there. You don’t have to list every single thing in your outline. Sometimes just three or four points is all you need.

              And like I said, if you come up with a better idea, change the outline and go in that direction! I do that all the time.

              Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Dan,
    Ok, my question theme of the week is: Keep or Delete?
    Do you print out copies of all your drafts?
    On the computer, do you save each different version of your draft as a different filename or do you just have one doc and it gets overridden each time you save?
    Have you ever had to retrieve to something you wrote a long time ago? (and if you had overridden it, it would have been lost.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, that’s a lot of questions.

      Let’s take them one at a time.

      Do you print out copies of all your drafts?

      No. I’m pretty good about reading stuff on the computer and it’s more portable that way, plus printing stuff takes forever.

      On the computer, do you save each different version of your draft as a different filename or do you just have one doc and it gets overridden each time you save?

      What I do is I save the files as individual chapters. So file 01 is chapter 1. Then file 02 is chapter 2.

      Each one has a date attached to it, that I type myself. So chapter 2 is 02 with the date of any revision

      Then i create a folder with prior versions. Every time I do an update on the file of the chapter, I save the new one with the new date and I put the old one in the “prior versions“ folder

      That way if I screw something up, I have the prior version and every change prior to that.

      Additionally, I save that entire folder onto a hard drive and probably also a thumb drive. So if my Computer crashed, I may only lose a day’s worth of information or at most a few days. It’s all saved on the thumb drive each day or two, and the thumb drive is saved to a external hard drive about once a week, when I’m in the middle of writing a novel.

      Then it gets more fun! I will email these files to my editor or a critique partner so in case my entire house burns down she has a copy, plus it would be saved through the email server on my end and on her end.

      OK, so that pretty much address is backing things up so you don’t lose them.

      The reason I save everything in different files for each chapter is just so that I can organize them if I need to. I put them all in one big file called “whole book“ at the end, and the reason I save each day’s work under the new date is just in case I make a mistake or lose a file or something bad happens, whatever it was yesterday is sitting right there.

      My stories are complicated so if I decide to create some surprise in chapter 30, it might require me to go back to chapter 2 and chapter 6. Well, then I go back and make the change in the individual files and I give them a new date. If I decide the change I made in chapter 30 doesn’t work, I have the prior versions and I don’t have to do a lot of undeleting.

      This is backing up beyond what’s necessary but I don’t have to keep those files either. As soon as I’ve got what I consider the finished document, I can go back and delete that “prior versions“ folder and that’s that.

      Have you ever had to retrieve to something you wrote a long time ago?

      Sure. And I have lost bits and pieces of things here and there. I’m human.

      That’s why I back everything up now multiple times and why I back up any changes each day.

      (and if you had overridden it, it would have been lost.)

      Right, so I really try hard not to do that.

      Each person needs to create a system that works for them. My system would not work for my editor – and vice versa.

      I don’t line to write my book in one document where chapter two follows chapter 3 in the same file. They’re all separate because sometimes I like to move things around and I just find it easier that way. It’s very hard actually for me to keep track inside of a giant document.

      Also, with other things I’ve worked on, I have had to print them out and then put a different colored highlighter mark down the margin of different sections so that I could move them around and remember where they came from.

      Again, whatever works for you is what’s best.

      I had an old story from 20 years ago that the only retrievable copy was printed out. I sent it to somebody on fiverr to type it in word so that I could edit it. And then I decided it wasn’t such a great story and have been sitting on it ever since!

      Usually there’s a way to do whatever you need done and if you have to retrieve an older file you might have to enlist the help of one of those computer whiz people because. just because you delete something or override something doesn’t mean your computer actually threw it away. Sometimes it has just been moved to a different place that you can’t access.

      Hope that helps!

      Liked by 1 person

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