Chekhov’s Gun, My Personal Arch- Nemesis

Hello friends and welcome to another fun filled edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

A few weeks ago I was thinking about why I have the tendency to write really thin, why my descriptions are always lacking, and why I struggle so much with world building. I made a comment on someone’s Twitter thread about these issues, and another user pointed out that my style of writing might by better suited for screenplays. 

Then it hit me: she was exactly right (that I don’t actually want to write screenplays is neither here nor there).

Much of my teens and twenties could be defined by fandom. The friends I made and the activities we enjoyed were predominantly informed by whatever I was Into at the moment, especially as a teenager. As I grew into adulthood, moved away from home, and started a family, the way I enjoyed fandom, by necessity, shifted to largely online interactions and communities. It was during that time period I got really into meta-analyzing my favorite TV shows. TV was my preferred media at the time and I spent much of my considerable free hours engaging with it. 

One of the key principals when analyzing TV (and other shorter form media) is that of Chekhov’s Gun. The idea being that in one hour of scripted television, a screenwriter has roughly forty three minutes in which to tell a story (accounting for commercials). Meaning that there simply isn’t enough time to go into detail about anything that isn’t going to directly contribute to the narrative. If the writers are using precious seconds and minutes showing you something, it’s for a reason. It’s important. 

Obviously, this is not so with novels. In fact, in many ways it’s completely the opposite. While it would not be prudent to bog down a manuscript with too much detail, since books lack a visual component it makes describing the characters and world in depth essential. Whereas on a TV show time needn’t be spent telling me a character’s eyes are brown because I can see them, taking a sentence or two to do so in a novel helps bring a hazy mental image into focus. 

I mean, this sounds obvious, even to me, as I’m typing it all out but, genuinely, in the moment when I am drafting I completely forget about it. Because, in my mind, my character’s eyes being brown has absolutely no bearing on the story, so why should I waste time mentioning it? 

I completely blame my years in fandom, my many hours meta-analyzing TV when I should have been reading instead, for this. I wish I knew how to shake it off, but hopefully simply being aware of the bias will help me correct it going forward. That and reading. A hell of a lot more reading. 

In short, Chekhov’s Gun can to go to hell. 


Time for a Mental Health Check In. 

This last month has been a rough one for me. I’ve had a lot going on in my personal life, at least three different major issues to manage – any one of which would be stressful enough to deal with on its own – all while going back on my meds to try and get my anxiety and depression under control. It’s not been fun, and I’ve struggled a great deal at times (including this very week) to remain productive during my writing hours. 

To be totally transparent, it’s fucking sucked. And there’s no way to couch that. It just blows to feel like this all the time. I know I’m going to make it, I have amazing support, but I urge everyone to just check in with their friends once in a while. It makes such a massive difference when you’re down the rabbit hole to know that someone is thinking about you. 


Well, that’s enough out of me for this week. I’ll (hopefully) be back next week with more profound and/or frustrated thoughts on writing conventions I’ve conveniently forgotten since high school. Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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Monday Motivations; TMI

Hello friends. Last week was exceptionally trying for me. Not long after writing that blog post about rising above the difficulties I had been facing at my increasingly stressful job, I had the opportunity to put my newfound determination to the test.

Suffice it to say I failed, and was afforded a discomfiting look at how poorly I had been managing my mental health, not just of late, not just since the pandemic, but for years. The good news is, I’m taking steps to address it now. However much that means for my writing, I can’t wait to find out.

Speaking of which, I am officially back in the saddle again with the freelance writing, and as much as I enjoyed the break, I think the routine of writing every day is important for me to maintain. But this weekend, as I settled into the first few pages of my new project, I was reminded of how… dissatisfied I would be if my writing career never evolved beyond my current output. And how, even though time is a precious resource I never seem to have enough of, it is ultimately up to me to squeeze whatever personal writing I want to do into the creases.

So that’s my motivation this week. At the end of the day, after I’ve gotten my freelance words done but before I completely shut off my brain, do a little bit of writing on my personal project. Even if it’s just a few sentences or jotting a few story ideas down in my notebook. A little bit every day.

Until next time my friends

Kerry Share

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Monday Motivations; Crunch Edition

After a long awaited and much needed staycation, I am back to work and ready to meet those goals.

And such goals they are, the biggest, of course, being the manuscript I have to finish by Friday. I had hoped to be done with it by now and have the chance to spend this week doing some editing, but my mental health did not cooperate at all last week and I’m staring down the barrel of 8000 words or so. It’s a big ask, especially with returning to the day job, but I think I can get there. If only I can get my brain chemistry to play nice for a change.

I also got my first ever edits back for the first manuscript on Thursday and, thankfully, they went easy on me. I’m hoping to tackle them this week, if I can get this manuscript done in time.

But wait, there’s more: the pitch deadline for next quarter is coming up in a couple of weeks which means it’s time for me to really evaluate the time I’ve spent so far doing this freelancing thing. I think I may only submit two pitches this time, to give myself a month to regenerate. But that still means crafting two new ideas, complete with synopses. Thankfully, I have a little bit of time there.

Lastly, I need to get back to my reading schedule. I just haven’t been excited about books the last two or three weeks, no doubt thanks, at least in part, to my mental health struggles, but I’ve also had other hobbies distracting me. So I want to read three chapters this week.

So much to do, so little time, yet I want to take a moment for a mental health aside. The short of it is I am not doing great right now. I’m struggling a lot with the loss of enjoyment of my favorite activities, which I rely upon to relieve every day stress. This isn’t new to me, so I don’t want anyone to worry that I’m suddenly deeply depressed in a dangerous way. I’m not. But I am struggling. The only reason I’m even able to still write, when normally creative pursuits are the first thing my depression disrupts, is because this time it’s literal, actual work. Even still it’s been hard to get words down which has resulted in a bit of a crunch period this week.

Take care of yourselves everyone. As a special favor to me.

Kerry Share

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Putting Your(my)self Out There

Hello and welcome to a reinvigorated yet anxious edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

Well, the creative slump that had been dogging me all last week lasted all the way up until this very morning, when, for whatever reason, I just felt ready to shake myself back to work. It’s been the single most frustrating thing about my writing journey: trying to accomplish my goals around the unpredictable cyclone that is my mental health. No matter how much I plan and schedule and set deadlines for myself, there is simply no accounting for a hiccup in brain chemistry that derails me off course, even if only for a few days or a week or a month.

But, it is who I am and, short of finding the right doctor and the right cocktail (unlikely in my present circumstances), it’s just something I have to live with.

So, enough of that. Back to work.

scribbling

Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately (even struggling with, ha ha) is how hard I’ve found it to make connections with people in the writing community. It’s no secret as to why that is: I’m very shy and very private. But there have been moments, especially during the pandemic, where I have felt extremely isolated on this wild journey of mine. That’s not much of a revelation either. The act of writing is a solitary process. Sure, we can all commiserate before, during, and after the fact, but – unless you have a co-author (and more kudos to you if you do because, whew, I could never) – the actual penning of the words is something only you, yourself can do. Add in the pandemic, where we have all been cut off from each other in new and exciting ways, and it’s not any wonder that I’ve been feeling some loneliness creep in, despite my historic preference for mental hermitage.

(I know I’m not using that word correctly, but it feels accurate so let’s go with it.)

There’s also a measure of social anxiety baked into my predisposition for solitude. Will people unfollow me if I talk about my video game hobby or my kids or sports instead of writing? Will people like or respect me less if they learn more about my life? Will I be harassed if I share too much (it is the internet, after all). Will I say something I regret?

It’s hardly the first time I’ve wondered these things and it’s not at all the first time I’ve thought that my anxiety is crushing some of the life out of me. And while, again, that’s just part of my existence on this planet for the time being, over the last twelve months I’ve made major strides in pushing against some of my uncomfortably close boundaries and exploring what could lie beyond them. Turns out, if I want to make friends I’m going to have to be friendly. And part of that means opening myself up in ways I’ve been hesitant to before.

I’m not really sure what that means yet. But I think it’ll probably result in me talking a lot more. Maybe here on this blog, or in the comments of your own blogs (which I do read, but have been too nervous to meaningfully interact with). Or perhaps on Twitter or Instagram.

Please look forward to it.


I am trying really, really hard to get through my current read so I can review it for you all. Truly, I do like it and I do want to write a book sort of like it but… my god it is so dense. It’s like exercise trying to read it, and with everything else I’ve had going on I just haven’t had the energy. I will get through it one day, though, I swear.

Until next week my friends, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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Character Driven Road Trip

Hello and welcome to another introspective, wakeup callish edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about my heretofore WIP (now trunked) Border Towns. If you’ve been with me on this journey since its inception, you might be familiar with my struggles with it (and subsequently a little bored of hearing about it). Well, strap in, because we’re taking another cruise through Border Towns.

bad trip

About a year ago, I was approximately 8000 words into the second draft and I was stuck. No matter how many times I rewrote it, no matter how many ways I approached it, no matter how long I spent bashing my head against it, I could not get the inciting incident* right. I got distance from it, I came back to it. I told myself I was overthinking it and moved on from it. I came back to it. I stopped writing entirely. I came back to it.

Eventually I just scrapped the scene and wrote a hollowed out version of it just to get me through NaNo, but I was never quite satisfied. I told myself, and others, that I just couldn’t figure out why this scene was so difficult to write.

But… well, that was a lie. I’ve always known what was wrong with it. I just also thought I could force myself to make it work anyway.

The thing is, my main character, L, turned out to be a spitfire. She was spunky, she was decisive, she took absolutely no shit. I thought, as I wrote, hell yes this is a female character I want to read. The first version of that scene was no doubt its best iteration.

Then, I remembered that her inability to take charge and make hard choices was sort of the whole narrative thrust of the book. Getting the point where she would make a stand in the face of adversity was her entire character arc. If I let her be a spitfire now, what the hell would the rest of my story be about?

And the thing is, I’ve realized, is I should have just let myself… find out.

I’m a planner. I’ve expounded on that at length. I love outlining, and I love having my roadmap, and I absolutely fear the unknown. Despite that, I always thought that if presented with a case of the story taking on a mind of its own, I would let it. Yet here I was, resisting with all my might the idea that my character was going to be this way, from the beginning, whether I liked it or not. Would that change really have altered the trajectory of the story that much? Maybe, maybe not. I’ll never know now, because instead of letting L take the reins, I forced myself to remain inside the extremely rigid box of what was, in my own mind, canon.

Man, I was an idiot. But that’s what first novels are for, right? Making mistakes and, if you’re good enough, learning from them.

I find myself wondering now if Border Towns can be salvaged by starting fresh with this new perspective in mind. But, even if it can’t (after all, my struggles with Border Towns did not begin and end with L’s characterization), I’ve learned a valuable lesson I could have sworn I already knew.

On this winding, wandering, wild road trip I call writing, let the damned characters do the driving.


Mental Health Check-In: Last week turned out to be the perfect black hole for productivity. Busy day job, doctor appointments, birthdays, and my main hobby coming out with some attention grabbing things. The anxiety brain was loud as each day passed without any blog-work getting done, telling me I failed and this is why I will always fail, because I won’t prioritize writing, yadda yadda yadda. That said, one of the biggest hurdles I’ve overcome with my mental health this year, is knowing that no matter how many times I fail, I can always get up and try again. So here I am, back on track, and with a reminder to be kind to yourself. Thanks for reading.


This week’s Short But Sweet prompt:

And now the star is dreaming.


That’s all from me on this Thursday Words Day. As always (or as near to always as life allows) I’ll be back on Sunday with my answer to this week’s Short But Sweet Prompt, and watch this space Tuesday for my next installment of Why I DNF This Book. Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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