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; I’m Not Special

Good morning friends. I am back after a long week during which the perfect storm of stressful life events and a deadline conspired to keep me from meaningfully blogging, or even thinking about anything extraneous.

While last week may be an outlier in terms of demand on my time and attention, it got me thinking yet again about the difficulty of balancing a writing career with, well, everything else.

Because it seems impossible and yet, empirically, it is not. Plenty of other writers have found a way to have a day job, fulfill familial obligations, and write. Even my hope to maintain my freelance writing whilst working on personal passion projects is not unique to me.

So, if all those other writers can do it, why not me? What do they have that I don’t?

Under normal circumstances I would consider thoughts like these counterproductive. Comparing another author’s success to my own (or lack thereof as it were) is a recipe that the anxiety brain simply salivates over.

That being said, I need to know that it’s possible. I need to look to those who came before and realize that they too had to struggle with balancing their checkbook of time, and that if they did it so can I.

My struggles aren’t special, and they sure as hell aren’t an excuse to give up.

That’s my motivation this week.

Until next time friends!

Kerry Share

Monday Motivations; A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Good morning friends and welcome to another exciting week of writing.

Yesterday was an off day for me. From start to finish I just didn’t feel like myself. Mondays, weirdly enough, is usually when I’m at my most motivated (hence this blog series) and freshest, and I usually feel ready to attack the week. Not so yesterday and I’m still not sure why. Couple that with a tough parenting situation in the evening, and I pretty much lost the whole day.

I’m obsessed with time. How much of it I have, whether or not it’s being spent wisely, the whole nine years. I almost think if it like money, and, like money, I worry that if I am not using it in the most efficient way possible then it is a waste.

Bearing that in mind, days like yesterday are tough for me to swallow. In times gone by, they’ve managed to ruin my entire week. But I’m working on getting better about that, mostly by reminding myself that operating at peak efficiency at all times is something we ask of machines, not people. That I’m not just a vessel of productivity, but a human who is allowed and sometimes has off days.

So that’s my motivation this week: not getting too down about not hitting my word count yesterday and just focusing on what I can do today.

Until next time my friends!

Kerry Share

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Monday Motivations; The Grind

Hello friends and welcome to another fun an exciting week of writing.

At least, I wish it was exciting. Actually, today I’m finding myself a little caught up in the doldrums of the daily grind. When sitting myself down to write this post I found that I didn’t have much in the way of motivation, other than the usual “you’re under contract and you definitely don’t want to put it off like last time” feelings.

It’s funny, because for the last several years my main goal has been to become a working writer. And though I knew writing as a job would at times be just as tedious and unfun as a regular day job might be, knowing something abstractly and experiencing it practically are two different beasts altogether.

All that to say, I have nothing new to add this week. No special pearls of insights that came to me as I set about my day, no wisdom to expound upon as I look forward to another week of just grinding out those words. The only thing I have is the reminder to myself, cold comfort though it may feel at the moment, that I wanted this. I still do, of course, no matter how unexciting it feels this morning. This is what it means to be a working writer, in some respects. The knowledge that it’s just like any other job.

Until next time my friends.

Kerry Share

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Character Driven Fantasy

Hello friends and welcome to another self-reflective and, may I say, stylish edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

This last weekend I finally conceded defeat to the book I had been attempting to read for the last five or six weeks, a big name book by a big name author that I just… couldn’t get into. Though the writing was good and the premise interesting, I ultimately put it down because I never connected with either of the POV characters.

I then picked up a different book and immediately tore through it in less than two days (looking forward to getting a review out of it on Tuesday). 

Perhaps something sort of weird about me is whenever I finish a book, I like to and look at some of the reviews other readers gave it, particularly reviews that hold the opposite opinion I did. If I loved the book, I seek out one stars. If I hated it, I look for the glowing ones. I don’t know why I’m drawn to this activity, but maybe it’s just because I want to understand how people read and enjoy their stories. 

Today, after I finished my latest binge, I did what I always do. I googled the title, and clicked around, looking for the most scathing reviews I could find. As with all novels, I found plenty and though some had good points I had not considered, I noticed a trend with a lot of the unfavorable comments. They didn’t like how much of the narrative spent inside the main characters head. 

While I’ll get into the details during my review next week, it is true that this particular story was balanced more toward the characters than the world building and the vitriol that engendered made me sad a little. Because that’s how I write. 

I have long expounded on my own weak worldbuilding and how I am much more of a character driven writer than a setting based one, but this book and those reviews kind of drove home for me how difficult it might be to take that approach in the fantasy genre. Certainly, many fantasy readers enjoy fantasy because the setting engages them, the characters moving through that setting are secondary to that pleasure, which is why there is such a broad market for sci-fi/fantasy IPs (think Forgotten Realms, Warhammer, Star Wars, Dune, etc.). And while I would never say there’s no market for character driven fantasies, I do wonder if it’s a smaller niche than I previously thought. 

Is it possible to be excellent at both? And be succinct? I wonder. I guess I have a new higher ideal to aspire to.

But first, I gotta fix my worldbuilding problem. Anyone got tips on how to change their entire writing style? 


As I mentioned in my Monday Motivations post this week, I’m (hopefully) heading into some brighter days with my mental health. Which, in turn, I hope, means that I will be getting back into the swing of writing weekly blogs. Please look forward to it. 

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

Kerry Share

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O Story, Where Art Thou

Friends, it has been a week of ups and downs. My mental health has been all over the place, it’s been insanely busy at the day job, I’m stressing hard about sending my kids to public school in a state where masks have been forbidden from being mandated. 

But it hasn’t been all bad. I pretty quickly on Monday got an idea for one of my two pitches I plan to submit next month, and on Tuesday after some serious thinking, I finally decided which idea I wanted to tackle for my next attempt at a fantasy novel. 

It’s an idea that’s been in development in my brain for about a decade now and I even attempted to write it at one point, but didn’t manage more than about 10,000 words before giving up.

The reason for that is pretty simple. While I have, I feel, a really great cast of diverse characters and, I hope, a setting with fairly interesting deep lore, what I do not have is an actual… plot.

I mean, sort of. Like I said. I have the characters and I have the rough outline of their quest. I know how it ends. But actually getting there… that’s another, heh, story.

With every other idea I’ve ever even attempted at writing, I’ve known the general path the plot would take from the opening scene to the end. The middle, as always, is a bit murkier and tends to develop as I outline and experiment, and even then new ideas crop up while I draft. But, planner such as I am, I do not start writing until I have a firm grasp on the lay of the land.

So the fact that I still don’t really know how to bring these great characters through this interesting world to reach this particular climax… is concerning.

(“But wait,” I hear some of you say, “just pants it! It’ll be fun to discover what you never knew you had in you!” To which I reply…)

no

Now, it could be that this idea (or, perhaps more accurately, this hodge podge of characters and setting) just isn’t meant to be. If, after all this time, I still can’t come up with a way to move the characters through the world, then maybe I’m just looking at the whole thing through the rose colored glasses of nostalgia.

And if that’s the case, I’ll take my medicine. I mean, that’s why I shelved it in the first place. But I’m older and a bit wiser since I last critically looked at this idea. The way I approach my craft is radically different than when I was a 25 year old baby writer making her first attempt at writing a grown up novel. Rose colored glasses or no, I think these characters and the world they reside in deserve a fair shake.

But this will be the last one they get, because I’m not getting any younger.

So, in the wise words of one Lin-Manuel Miranda:

Come on brain. Think of things. Come on brain. Be so smart.

Kerry Share

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Monday Motivations; No Rest For the Working Writer

I’ll admit it folks: I was pretty darn tempted to forgo blogging today (or this week, or even this month). After all, with no active freelance project to inform my writing needs for the next four or five weeks, what could I possibly have to talk about?

Well, as it happens, I’m still a working writer, even if I’m not “working” at the moment.

In fact, when I sat down with my journal this morning to outline how I would like to spend this non-working month, a surprising amount of writing related tasks came up.

For starters, my next pitch due date is September 6th. I’ve already determined that I’d like to do two pitches this quarter (three being too many and one not enough), which gives me two weeks (each) to put together and refine an idea into something sellable. Should be plenty of time, but I also wouldn’t be that surprised if I completely lost track of things and ended up with just a few days to throw things together.

Which is sort of the point I’m dwelling on here. It would be really easy for me to take a month long vacation from writing here. Spend my after day job hours loafing around playing video games or watching tv or all those lovely time wasting activities I do so dearly miss. But what good would that do me? Truly? None. I would only be putting myself in the unenviable position of having to get back into the habit of writing every day. Which, for me, a person who struggles mightily with habit formation and maintenance, would be… uh, shitty to say the least.

So I’ve got to keep after it. But I can’t expect two pitches to keep me occupied an entire month can I?

Which leads me the second big writing related task I want to tackle this month: figuring out what the hell personal project I want to try and tackle. I have so many ideas at so many different stages of development, and, truthfully, all of them and none of them feel like… the correct choice.

I’m sure there’s some analysis paralysis at play here. I would medal in the Overthinking Olympics. And I know that continuing to try and force it would only make it worse. But, with how much time and oxygen the freelancing gig has eaten up, I’m worried that if I don’t take this brief moment of downtime now to advance my personal writing, then those ideas will forever and always be on the back burner. And as much as I have loved this freelancing thing, my goals for my writing career extend far beyond it.

So that’s my motivation this week month. Sort through my feelings on each of these ideas I’ve got and figure out which one lies at the cross section of inspiration and aspiration. Then develop it. Nurture it. Prepare it. Outline it. And heckinf write it.

Oh, yeah. And I’d also like to finish this book I’ve been tryna read all summer.

Until next time friends.

Kerry Share

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Monday Motivations; The Final Countdown

*cue guitar riff*

Friends, the time has come. In five days I will submit my fourth freelance manuscript, whereupon I will be not under contract for the first time since April, and I will take a very much needed break.

When I first signed up for this gig, I had an idea that it would be a bit of an ass kicking. I wasn’t used to writing that much that quickly with a hard deadline to adhere to, but… I also knew that I was capable of it. And so I was. I haven’t yet missed a deadline and all my edits have been not just complimentary, but educational, helping me improve my craft and building up my creative muscle with each new project I tackled.

It’s been an awesome experience, even when I was at my lowest moments (of which I had only myself and my penchant for procrastination to blame). I’ve gotten to work as a freelance writer, dabble in a genre I hadn’t touched since I left fanfiction, work with editors and practice working on a deadline. As much of a hustle that it’s been, I can genuinely say I’ve loved it.

But, friends, I am friggin tired. As much as I’ve enjoyed this gig, it has been an asskicking. Everyday day has felt like I have no time at all to relax, that every waking moment not otherwise engaged must be spent furthering whatever project I was currently working on, if not actually tapping out the words but brainstorming what I would need to do next.

It has made relaxing a guilty pleasure, having outside obligations a matter of stress, early bedtimes or days off nigh unthinkable.

In short, I’m ready for this break. God, am I ready.

Don’t get me wrong though, it’s only temporary. In six weeks or so there will be a new pitch period and I’ll dive back in headfirst, ready to further refine myself as a writer. But this time I’ll be smarter about it. I’ll pare back how many projects I pitch to give myself the breathing room my ambition robbed me of these last few months.

And I’ll keep rolling. Can’t wait.

But first, I’ve got some unfinished business:

  • 10000 words to round out the manuscript
  • Edit the first 3 chapters
  • Quick and dirty proofread

If all goes well, I’ll check back in Friday to let you know how it went. If you don’t hear from me, you may assume I was working right down to the wire. Either way, until next time…

Kerry Share

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Trunk It or Try Again

Hello and welcome to another Border Towns-centric edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

Well, friends, I’m back on my Border Towns shit.

With some time opening up in my writing schedule after I wrap up this current freelance project, I’ve been doing some thinking about which personal project I want to tackle next.

Before freelancing took over all my spare time, I was working on an epic fantasy MESS code named the Nexus. I look at the Nexus as my “IDGAF” project. It pulled me out of a very long, bleak writing draught and while it is really fun to work on, I also recognize that it would be a tough sell to an agent or editor as a debut author.

Meanwhile, I realized a little while ago that I’m ready to confront the major revisions Border Towns will need if I ever want it to see the light of day. I have come to terms with the fact that it will not look in any way like I originally wrote it, and, more than that, I have come to see those changes as a good thing. Which naturally has me wondering if this upcoming break in freelancing is the right time to put serious effort into the New and Improved Border Towns.

But, this is Just Another Struggling Writer, and here we like a healthy dose of anxiety brain with any and all ideas we have as it relates to our writing.

Border Towns was the first novel I ever finished. Sure, it was a shitty first draft in which I skipped writing scenes that were giving me trouble altogether, convinced I would come back to and add them later (spoiler alert: I did not), included very little description and proper worldbuilding, where the plot was weak at best. But… I finished it. No matter how bad it was then, and how bad it still was when I finally shelved it to brood over the aforementioned revisions, it is precious to me for that reason alone.

But is it so precious that I cannot see the forest for the trees? Has Border Towns always been meant for the trunk, but I’m just too infatuated with the idea to let it go. Am I preventing movement on new, better ideas because I’m so hung up on this one? If I move forward with revisions, do I risk becoming, or am I already too far gone, the person who is constantly writing and rewriting one idea over and over, unable to admit that it’s fundamentally broken?

Because, if I’m being totally honest, I think I’m scared to really commit to a brand new project. Starting the Nexus was spur of the moment, because it was in my head at the moment and inspiring creativity I hadn’t felt in months, but since taking a break from it to work on freelance stuff, I’ve realized that I probably should have let it percolate a bit longer and do some more worldbuilding before diving into something so dense and all over the place.

On the other hand… do I just think that because I’m scared to start fresh?

Is the call of Border Towns simply the comfort of knowing I have a strong foundation to build from? I hate worldbuilding, I’ve said it many times before. I think I’m pretty terrible at it and tend to get bogged down in the nitty gritty details, unwilling to move forward if there’s even the tiniest gap in logic. So, even getting to some pretty substantial worldbuilding related revisions, having a foundation to build from is incredibly comforting.

That said… is it time for me to get a little, dare I say, uncomfortable?

To be fair, all novels need revisions, some even major revisions like Border Towns. This would only mark my third draft (if that, since the second never got finished) of the thing, and it’s not like I’ve spent a decade of my life on this with still nothing to show for it (coming up on three years, but I haven’t really been working on it that whole time either).

So is this anxiety over being too committed to the idea all for nothing? Or is it time to dip my toes into something fresh? Something that, unlike the Nexus, I can feasibly sell?

I genuinely don’t know, but the time to decide is pretty much now. My freelance break is coming up in two weeks and will likely only last a month or two. If I don’t want to totally waste that time asking myself these same questions over and over until it’s time to write for money again, I better sort out how I feel and fast.


So friends, what would yall do in my position? Trunk it or try again? Let me know in the comments. Maybe you can help me sort out the way I feel about the whole thing.

Until next time! May your writing be plenty and your struggles be few!

Kerry Share

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Monday Motivations; Prove It

Good morning friends and welcome to another week in the writing trenches

Well, last week you didn’t hear from me at all here because I had once again put myself in a pretty horrible position with my latest freelance deadline. Suffice it to say, I had a pretty hefty word count deficit and just one week to play catch up. And though I did manage to get submitted on time, it was not an experience I would like to repeat.

Which has gotten me thinking. I’ve now been at this freelancing thing three months and with each progressive project it feels like my time management has gotten worse. Of course, I had a depressive episode to contend with, which interfered with my productivity on each of the last two projects, but that doesn’t completely account for my poor time investments across the board. That’s something I have always struggled with (read: my several posts lamenting my time budget and how I always manage to overspend).

Those struggles reached their natural climax last week. And though I did not end up at my worst case scenario (emailing my editor in embarrassment asking for more time), I worry that if I do not take my time management pitfalls more seriously, I will find myself in that position sooner rather than later.

So, I’ve decided to issue an ultimatum to myself. I have one more project under contract (thanks again to my poor time management I wasn’t able to get another pitch submitted for the quarter on time). If I can’t figure out how to make my schedule work without sacrificing things like day job performance, housekeeping responsibilities, etc., then this will be the last time I do it. Four months should be plenty of time to work it out and if I can’t… maybe it’s just not meant to be.

Which would suck, because I really love writing as a job. That part hasn’t worn out it’s welcome yet. My second check hits my bank account this week and it’s still so cool (yet surreal) to think I’m getting paid for work I’m passionate about. So it’s time for me to prove that this isn’t just some gig I took up for shiggles. This is an important moment in my career and a major stepping stone for my aspirations to make writing a living.

So, that’s my motivation this week. Figure out how to balance writing against my other time commitments or give up writing as a part time job until I can.

Concrete goals:

  • 1500 words a day, 7500 by Friday
  • Blog on Thursday and Friday
  • Read 5 chapters of current read

Wish me luck. I’m working against 15 years of bad habits.

Kerry Share

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