You have questions. Ask away.

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.


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.

Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

USA Today bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 50+ titles published in more than 120 countries and over a dozen languages.

19 thoughts on “You have questions. Ask away.

  1. This is my first time asking a question here so you may have answered it before. It is kind of a big one, but maybe you have some tips? How do you finish a novel?
    I am full of ideas, characters, dialogue, the plot seems to be moving along fine. But I can’t finish it.
    Them, actually. I have two unfinished novel drafts. One, I wrote the ending which is insufficient, and the other is 3/4 of the way through and I started moving more slowly on the writing of it, the closer I get to the finish line.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This question has been asked before but I never get tired of answering it!

      Every author and writer has lots and lots of great ideas. And we end up with a folder full of starters. But you’re not really an author if you don’t finish the idea. That’s where it becomes work.

      The adrenaline of a new exciting idea will get you through a few chapters and into a couple of interesting characters but the hard part is getting past that middle and getting to a conclusion. And it doesn’t matter really what the conclusion is! I have a story where I kill off the character that everybody wanted to live. Half of my readers like it; Half of them don’t. So whether he lived or died half of my people are going to be upset.

      Anyway, all you have to do is ask yourself, “and then what?“

      As in, Romeo and Juliet meet. Their parents don’t want them to be together. But they still want to be together.

      And then what?

      And then everybody dies.

      And then they live happily ever after.

      And then day…

      Get it?

      So what would be something really really really interesting to answer that “ and then what“ question? Because that is the trick. Put your characters up a tree and throw rocks at them. Romeo and Juliet falling in love and living happily ever after is nowhere near as interesting as their parents don’t want them to be together and then he sees that she has taken a potion and she think she has died… You get the idea.

      It begins with an one. Doesn’t matter which story you pick, finish it. You don’t get to work on anything else – no dessert before you finish your vegetables.

      You can do that. And then you will see that there may have been two things afoot. First of all, the reason a lot of people don’t like to finish their story said because they enjoy the characters too much to say goodbye. Well, you can write a sequel. Or you can just re-read the first one because lo and behold there they are again every time you open the book.

      The second part of that is simply made maintaining a discipline. You have to finish or you’re not really an author. You can’t publish half a book. You can’t publish 10 stories that are half finished, but you can publish one story that is finished. And even if it doesn’t have a terrific ending, whatever excited you enough to start it is probably good enough to make a lot of people happy reading it. Remember, the very fact that a story ends at all is going to be disappointing to some people, and you’re never going to end a story in such a way that everybody likes how it ended. That’s not important. But having an ending is!

      So that’s what you got to do. Pick one. Finish it.

      You’ll be surprised at how much easier it gets after you just finish one.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. what is the ‘rule’ with ending a paragraph with the action of one character and starting with the action, dialogue, or thoughts of another character.
    Sometimes it’s hard to tell when I write, and I am looking for some cast in stone rule. Or at least assistance in fashioning my question in a coherent manner so that i can research what I’m looking for. So far I looked up pronoun confusion, and how to change paragraphs. Neither were what I needed.
    THanks in advance


    1. There are rules?

      Seriously, it’s pretty simple most of the time but there are always places where it can get tricky.

      Bill ran. Fred ran. Joe and Barney ran around in circles.

      All that stuff can be in one paragraph.

      “Run away!“ John said.

      Bill ran away.

      Those things belong and separate paragraphs. Why? Because the dialogue is by one person and the actions are by a different person. Typically dialogue stays with one person and that person‘s actions:

      “Run away!“ Bill said. He picked up a gun and backed away from the monster.

      That’s fine. Everything is about the same speaker. He is talking and he is moving so we know it’s all the same person.

      That is the main thing when it comes to dialogue. The actions stay with the speaker and other peoples actions get a different paragraph.

      If you have a bunch of people that are all focused on the same thing, like if you and your kids all go to route Mount Rushmore, the general description of each one of them gazing at the stone cut faces, that can all be in one paragraph.

      As soon as your oldest daughter exclaims that this freaking mountain is lame, she gets her own paragraph.

      And then you create paragraphs when things just start to look like a big ugly massive block of text! That’s a style thing. I have lots of white space and people have said I have too much white space – which means I put in too many paragraph breaks – but the idea is I am breaking it up and it reads faster as a result. Smaller bites to chew and swallow. That can help your pace. I don’t know about you, but if I see two solid pages of text without a single white line anywhere in there, I am thinking it’s boring. Unless it’s a graphic sex scene, it probably is boring! Giant walls of text are simply harder to read, and we are trying to write stories for people to read for pleasure.

      If you have too many paragraph breaks, you have not committed as big of a sin as if you have too few – and the big sin is boring your reader. We’re not here to make your eighth grade English teacher happy.

      This is easier to show with examples, so if you want to send a few over I’ll look at them! We can use it for a blog post or something down the road.

      For hard and fast rules, it works like this:

      If you are having someone speaking and you are using quotes around the dialogue, everything in that paragraph has to be something they are doing or saying.

      New speaker,New paragraph.

      From there, paragraphs are supposed to be about the same topic. But you are allowed a wide interpretation of that. And when I first started, Allison is the one who introduced me to all the rules and also went to enforce them and went to let them slide. I read a lot of your stuff. You seem to be doing it right most of the time, but where you aren’t, I probably have pointed it out.

      Liked by 2 people

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