21 April 2023

How It's Done and Over Mastication

Inspired by recent posts from Michael Bracken and John Floyd, I wrote the following.

In his SleuthSayer's posting of 4/11/23, Michael Bracken said, "I don't often write about the genesis of my stories because I often don't know or don't remember much about how they came to be. My stories don't exist, and then they do."

Yep. Looking back – that's how I feel about most of my stories. How the hell did I come to write that story? I do remember the inspiration for some of my stories, but not a lot of them and now that I think about it, remembering the inspiration isn't important. Only the story matters.

I do remember being asked by an editor what inspired me to write a story which won an award and I could not remember the inspiration. Since I'm a fiction writer, I made up an inspiration. Faked it.

In John Floyd's SleuthSayer posting of 4/15/23, he wrote about writers ruining their books in the rewriting process, editing a book over and over, making it worse rather than better.

I can echo that. A writer friend once asked me to read his new novel. I did and liked it a lot. His agent, however, recommended changes and so did his editor. The writer made the changes after complaining to me about it. The book was published and when I read it, I saw how the editing, the over masticating of scenes, had taken all the spontaneous enthusiasm out of the book. It was flat and what was original was gone. It had become the agent and editor's idea of the book.

When my agent at the time recommend changes in my next book, I changed agents. The recommended changes were massive. Another reason I'm an independent (indie) writer. It's my art.

Having said all that – I've experienced this type of destructive meddling only a few times. Nearly all of the editors I've worked with have helped my writing.

Lots of lessons out there for writers. Beginning writers should follow SleuthSayers. I've been writing since the 1980s and I learn something new here all the time.

(I hope this is the correct logo)

That's all for now.



  1. Enjoyed the post, O'Neil, as always.

    And if that's not the correct logo . . . it should be.

  2. I love that logo! And yeah, at a certain point you have to just write as fast as you can and don't overthink it. Save that for 2 AM when you have nothing else to do.

  3. We should have a logo contest, O'Neil. I've toyed with geometric logos, but wasn't happy with them. Maybe script is the way to go.

  4. Love the logo! Yes, I've had editors reduce the edge in some of my work. And isn't it the truth, how inspiration just takes over. My head is full of characters who act out their stories, and damned if I can figure out where they came from. Melodie

  5. My agent often makes good suggestions, but tney're only suggestions and not wholesale changes. Like you, I've been writing for decades and there's always something new to learn. Love the logo! --Susan Oleksiw

  6. This is O'Neil. Been trying to comment. Hope this one goes through. Thanks for your comments, y'all.


Welcome. Please feel free to comment.

Our corporate secretary is notoriously lax when it comes to comments trapped in the spam folder. It may take Velma a few days to notice, usually after digging in a bottom drawer for a packet of seamed hose, a .38, her flask, or a cigarette.

She’s also sarcastically flip-lipped, but where else can a P.I. find a gal who can wield a candlestick phone, a typewriter, and a gat all at the same time? So bear with us, we value your comment. Once she finishes her Fatima Long Gold.

You can format HTML codes of <b>bold</b>, <i>italics</i>, and links: <a href="https://about.me/SleuthSayers">SleuthSayers</a>