How to avoid murdering your career

Ever feel like you are strangling a story to death?

I feel your pain. Really, I do. Sometimes I think my WIP needs to be put out of my misery.

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So, let’s all avoid the paper shredder. Because there’s help by – 10 Career Killers by David McFarland Story Doctor.

Here is what I learned from reading 10 Career Killers.

  1. Critics don’t buy books. Don’t write like a professor, write for your reader.
  2. Idiots don’t buy books either. Don’t dumb down your writing.
  3. Develop a wide range of topics. Don’t be a one-hit wonder. Don’t become bland.
  4. Keep up with technology. Learn to speak. Don’t let fear of the unknown stop you.
  5. Be thankful when fans or critics point out things that need changing. Then do it.
  6. Keep writing. Don’t let success kill your talent.
  7. Invest and save. Remember the law of gravity. What goes up must come down.
  8. Focus on your writing. Don’t let outside forces suck up your time.
  9. Figure out what to write and how to market it. Don’t rely on others to make you rich.
  10. Remember the rules of kindergarten and play nice. Don’t burn any bridges.

I usually have a favorite when I read a list of writing tips, but picking just one of these is hard. If I had to pick, I’d pick #3. Why? Because I love all genres and mediums. I love e-books, movies, YouTube, and apps. To me, technology is fun. I can enjoy reading everything from a Steven King novel, a children’s picture book to the latest Vampire YA.

David goes into a lot more detail in his post. After you’ve clicked and read the entire thing, be sure and let me know what you thought. 

Which of his writing tips do you relate to?

Got another tip to avoid killing a writing career? Do share.

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment or click the “write me” tab or you can contact me on Twitter @jeancogdell,Facebook at jean.cogdell and Just do stop by and say hey! The lights are on and I’m waiting.

Please remember to share this post with your Twitter  peeps and Facebook fans.


Do you know how to develop believable characters?

I confess, I don’t – not always.

Sometimes, just when I think I’ve written a real-life character who walks and talks like flesh and blood, boom I’ve created Frank.frankenstein-monster-983567_640

You know, that pieced together, patch quilt looking monster that walks like he’s got a stick up his ass. Right, that Frank.

I’m in the beginning stages of a new YA novel, I hope. And fleshing out the characters is more of a challenge that I anticipated.

Back to the drawing board, I opened Scrivener and studied my character sheets.paper-dolls-14611_640 Paper dolls, that’s the word that popped in my mind. Row after row of paper dolls.
Reading my story, I went over the tips for writing believable characters.

  • Show don’t tell, check.check-40319_640
  • Place characters in a situation that reveal and move plot, check.
  • Reveal more and more about characters as the story goes along, check.

So what was I missing? The answer eluded me until I read a post by David McFarland where he mentioned adding too many characters. Ding, ding, ding. Alarms rang.  I went back to the computer.

What happens if a story has too many characters?

  • The reader can become confused. (Who did what, went where and found?)
  • Readers find it difficult to bond with any one character in a cast of many.
  • Can’t hate a character if you’re unsure who to hate. (see above.)
  • Readers give up and never finish the book, or worse give us a bad review.

Whew! I’ve got to go back now and throw out some of those useless characters. Lots of rewriting to do.

Thanks, David! Y’all might want to hop over and read more in his blog at David McFarland’s Writing Tips.

Have you ever added too many characters to a story?

What about to few? Is that as bad?

For more tips on writing great characters, I’ve added links at the bottom.

I’d love to hear from you! Click the “write me” tab or contact me on Twitter @jeancogdell, Facebook at jean.cogdell and, stop by and say hey! The lights are on and I’m waiting.

Please remember to share this post with your Twitter  peeps and Facebook fans.

Five Traps and Tips for Character Development

Three Great Ways To Bring Your Character Alive