A Rant About Novel Serializations

I just finished 4 audiobooks. I had listened to the second one a couple of times and liked the character, and thought I liked the author. I pulled together 4 of her books using this character that were written over several years.

I could barely get through them. There was so much repetition it made me nuts. I think she took huge sections and just copied them into the next book to explain stuff that happened in the first book. I got to where I was just fast forwarding to get through those sections. And I couldn’t believe that a character I liked turned out to be so illogical. She was a Superior Court judge, after years of being a prosecutor, and I kept thinking “How could she be this stupid?” The final few paragraphs almost redeemed the books, almost. Overall, I felt the author was bored with the story and the character and thought it was a quick way to turn out a new book.

Note to self: 1) In a series find new ways to tell about important past experiences–don’t repeat! 2) Don’t give your character a high-profile job and then make her/his actions defy logic. It’s okay to be dumb if you don’t know the field, but don’t say how intelligent the character is to cover up the really stupid things he/she does.

Rant over.


“Writers need to put skin in the game…”


…and money.


I’d already had a bad day when I read that comment initiating a LinkedIn post by a neophyte publisher. Not only did she make egregious errors in her post, but she insulted writers at our basic level. When she received a response commenting on her misuse of words, you could almost hear her giggle as she noted that she always gets those words mixed up. Never mind the misspellings and poor grammar she used. Yes, you will find misspellings and grammatical mistakes in my work, but I’m not putting myself out there as a publisher or offering to copyedit anyone. So I lambasted her–and later discovered that she’d removed the post.

But let’s talk about skin in the game.

What do publishers and agents think we do all day? How many hours did you spend on that book that wasn’t even acknowledged? How many months and years?

And money? How much money have you spent on office supplies and technology and websites and books and research and…and…and…How much unpaid time did you use up instead of spending time doing something that actually paid you?

And that doesn’t even get into the emotional cost.

Skin in the game? Next time you are negotiating a contract, ask your agent or your publisher how much skin they are willing to put in the game.

Creative Writing 101

My Writers Digest University class starts a new 12-week course on Thursday, October 23. If you’d like more information, or to register for the class, go to http://register.writersonlineworkshops.com/Course?CourseId=1120-10. I hope to read you there!

Master’s Workshop: 5 Keys for Fixing Your Story

September 27, 2014

WC2 Masters Workshops – 3 One-Day Masters Workshops with Art Holcomb, Ace Antonio Hall, or Nancy Ellen Dodd, Los Angeles Valley College, CA

Nancy’s Workshop: “5 Keys for Fixing Your Story”

Frustrated by your progress? Wondering if you’ll ever be able to figure out the problems so you can get your story published or produced? The goal of this class is to teach you 5 Keys that will help you figure out what you are trying to write about and how to write it in the best way you can.

The 5 Keys covered are:

  • Where are you in story development?
  • Which voice should you use?
  • How do you punch up the characters?
  • How do you figure out where to begin the story?
  • How do you incorporate details, background, and flashbacks?

Author, teacher, and writer Nancy Ellen Dodd will help “you” analyze your story, the problems you need to address, and your next steps toward completion. This workshop includes advanced material not available in her book The Writer’s Compass: From Story Map to Finished Draft in 7 Stages. This is a writing and lecture class. Examples will come from participating student’s work during the class and pages submitted in advance.

You’re Invited Inside for a Peek

The Writing Nut publishes a blog about writers and their writing space and rituals. July 9 she featured me with pictures of my writing work space, including my 5′ nutcracker, and some of my thoughts about finding time and the rituals of writing. The blog can be found http://www.thewritingnut.com/wednesday-writers-workspace/wednesday-writers-workspace-welcomes-nancy-ellen-dodd/


Conventions of the Screenplay

For those of you interested, tomorrow starts my 8-week online screenwriting class, “Conventions of the Screenplay,” through Screenwriters University. See the full description at:

My Upcoming Conferences

GLAWS – February 8-9, 2014
The Greater Los Angeles Writers’ Society – Genre LA
Los Angeles Valley College

San Miguel Writer’s Conference 2014 – February 13-17

Conference on Creative Writing at Pacific – June 20-22
University of the Pacific – Stockton Campus

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