Monthly Archives: June 2016

Cheerleading for Writers: R – Research

Like almost any other term I’ve addressed in this cheerleading glossary for writers, research shows all signs of relativity.

Research doesn’t bring the cherished words to paper or computer screen, but it can inspire their appearance and creation.

On the other hand research can also “swallow” a writer and save her or him from writing — this longed for but still unsettling because creative process.

Let’s explore research using the mightiest diagnostic tools, the seven key questions, Who, What, Why, When, Where, How, and How much about research.

Who should research?

Any writer (of course!), independent on the genre he or she is writing in. The answers on the other questions below will give more clues to this as well.

What is research?

In his book “Creative Writing: A Guide and Glossary to Fiction Writing”, Colin Bulman said that,

“Readers expect the background to fiction to be accurate and authentic.”

This definitely applies even more to non-fiction. But also to fantasy and of course science fiction.

Colin Bulman has named reading, interviews, corresponding, visiting various places outside and buildings, watching films and television, and of course the Internet as the main means of research.

I surely agree. But I learned that reading, asking others, corresponding and watching in respect to the background of a story one writes might not be the only source of inspiration.

One of the greatest resources for me are books and articles on writing craft and art of publishing. I’m an physicist and engineer as my background, and engineers often share solutions to the challenges they face. They apply those solutions to the task at hand and create a new solution out of them. And this is what I found to be the most effective and efficient for me as a writer.

Like in anything else there is no need to re-invent a wheel, even if it is the latest model of high tech wheel with one thousand and thirty five edges instead of a completely round shape. We as writers can look at the latest model and say, “Wow, that’s great! What happens if I add six more edges and see how this wheel will act in my seven-wheeled car of a story?”

We are all inspiring and can learn from each other, whether we are writers, engineers, doctors, housewives, children, students, pensioners or someone of a completely different background.

Why research?

The quote by Colin Bulman above gives the answer to this question. There is also another possibility, which comes to my mind. And it is about having fun. In order to have fun you simply have to keep on learning, finding and discovering something new. Continuously.

Coming back to the question above — what is research — we can say that research can be also experimenting either with various lines of a story or literally experimenting and trying to do what our characters do, like for example flying a plane (as David Walliams did for one of his latest books “Grandpa’s Great Escape”).

So, yes, this is why research is important. It lets us grow and learn new things, have fun and communicate this enjoyment to our readers.

When is research appropriate?

One could also ask here, “What exactly should a writer research and in what situation?”

I discovered that for me the most urgent point to put a manuscript aside and do some research is when the following thoughts appear in my head about a historical detail or a fact, “I got this. I don’t have to double-check this. It’s not that important anyway.” Especially when these thoughts start to become too loud in my head so that I have to stop the actual writing. In that moment I know my brain is arguing with something authentic and true in me, which is eager to learn.

If in this moment I wholeheartedly surrender and open a search window on the Internet or a book from my shelf, then I catch myself often holding my breath, like I am about to find out a secret. However strange this may sound, but I am sure that exactly this feeling is one of the factors that keeps writers writing, researching and traveling around the world to find more exciting details for their stories or go and do crazy things like having oneself be arrested in order to find out how it looks, feels and smells like being arrested and sit in the back of a police car (as Angela Ackerman did for her and Becca Puglisi’s recently published “The “Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to City Spaces”).

Where can research be done?

Today research can be done anywhere. From home, while traveling to a certain setting, or in a setting created by yourself, whether virtually (with cards on a corkboard, by gathering images and links on one’s computer) or physically by building a certain setting in one’s garden. One of my greatest inspirations here is Nora Roberts. She uses all kinds of settings, and invents characters with almost endless variety of backgrounds and moods into her books. Especially the places she describes in her books are inspired both by the life around her or from far afar. And if she doesn’t have a certain setting then she creates one of her own. She had a hotel being built out of an historical building in Boonsboro, a small town in Maryland, where she lives. After having built that hotel, Nora Roberts had used the experiences gathered during the design and building of the hotel as well as from the pizzeria owned by her son and situated on the other side of the road where the hotel is situated, and of course her imagination, in a romantic trilogy called “Inn Boonsboro Trilogy”.

So there are not limits to where to research. Of course the financial means can set some limits, but not necessarily. By using the methods mentioned above you can still create or recreate a setting you are looking for while never having been there.

One of the most memorable writing exercises for me was to write a story about a character coming from a country I had never been before. I wrote this fictional piece about a man, named Matti and coming from Finland, shortly before I was on a business trip to Vaasa, a city on the west coast of Finland. I did and posted a number of writing exercises on my blog, but I do remember this one as one of my favourite. I guess the challenge to research and to write about something I knew absolutely nothing about before that was the fun factor here.

I’d like also to mention photographs as a special place of research for me. You could say that they are rather the means and I would agree, in general. But for me they are also a place to come back to. A very special place in my heart is occupied by the pictures from my father’s childhood and youth I used as an inspiration for the book based on my father’s story, “The Truth About Family”. I carried the copies of these photographs almost everywhere I went and I took them to help me answer the questions the story was posing. Sometimes they posed questions I answered by writing the story. My bookshelf with books, postcards, and photographs is definitely one of my favourite places for research.

How to research?

Various methods of research were mentioned above. But the ultimate combination of questions of all questions here can only be answered by the given author for his or her story and their particular state of mind and circumstances. A pregnant author, a mother of five children, a woman who never had children, a father of a newly born, a parent who lost a child to cancer, every one of them and anybody else will approach research on a child illness completely differently. And with this a seemingly same story will end up being absolutely different, its light being broken through their individual prisms of perspective and experiences.

How much or how long to research?

A short answer is, “As much as necessary, and as long is it is enjoyable and rewarding.”

I would have argued with this answer in the past saying, “But if it is so much fun then you might get lost in research and never write again.”

However some time ago I discovered this statement not to be true. When I researched an event for my first novel “The Truth About Family”, I mentioned above, I found myself reading multiple articles on that event. I seemingly couldn’t stop reading all that material. One might think that I got interested by this event and what happened then even if most of those details where not bringing my story further. When I stopped and observed myself I noticed that I wasn’t having fun with that particular research anymore. I was simply afraid to make the next step and find out what the subsequent scene would be.

Today, the day after I wrote the first draft of this article, I discovered the following quote by Baltasar Gracián y Morales:

“Without courage, wisdom bears no fruit.”

In other words, when the courage is needed, then it is the high time to stop researching and do the work.

What a great clue to find out when the answer, we are after, is found, and when to stop researching and come back to writing, isn’t it!? Yes, fear and especially becoming aware of it can be a useful clue to find out what is to be done next, and what is the best point in time for it to be done. To find the point of now.

So research is a mystery just like the writing itself. The balance act between the two is amazing and definitely worth exploring and testing again and again.

What, why, when, where, how and how much do you research for your stories?

Picture: My bookshelf next to my desk and printer, having on its top a photograph of my father, one of my husband and myself in the year we became parents, a pen holder in form of a pile of books with a beaded flower made by my mother. This shelf is one of my favourite points of research. It contains a wild and often changing mixture of books and magazines on writing craft, some of my notebooks with a few stories started and yet to be finished, grammar books and dictionaries in some of the languages I am studying, the books I wrote and published, photographs, postcards, books on art, science, history, picture books from Moldova, Africa, France, Germany, United States, Great Britain (and especially museums in many of these countries) and so much more.


“Cheerleading For Writers”, copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

Cheerleading for Writers: Q – Quantity and Quality

Quantity and quality are often used as opposed terms. Especially in writing you’ve probably often heard people saying, “Quantity is not the same as quality.”

On the other hand you as a writer have been most probably also motivated to write as much as you can and maybe you’ve been even told that only by producing masses of material you can produce also brilliant pieces in it. “You can’t edit and empty page,” I love quoting again and again.

But what about already finished and published books. Which are better? The longer or the shorter ones?

Like anything else, relativity principle applies to both, quantity and quality. There are brilliant epic novels and revealing short stories. And the same applies to the bad ones. You can find them in any length and in any genre.

And of course besides that, a book can be perceived by one person as good and can sound awful to another.

So every writer needs to write his or her own perfect story, the one he or she wants to read. Most of us heard this instruction many times too.

Of course we still need to improve and revise, and let others to edit and say their opinion on what we have produced. But what if rewriting doesn’t improve but simply changes the book? It is then different but neither better or worse. Even if there might be some people who think otherwise. Like in the case when you get a new software update with new functionalities replacing the old ones you liked and used a lot. The new ones might be good or even better, but you simply don’t feel like this is the case.

After asking myself what advice I would give my younger self, or if I were a starting writer, then the following shaped somewhere between my heart and my brain.

If your inner critic or someone from the outside says to you that your book or writing in general is bad, then don’t argue and don’t defend yourself. This will be a waste of your time and it will only produce or increase already current doubts about your work-in-progress or your writing craft in general. I bet this is not the way you want to take. So tap the power of your brain or the brain of your critic to boost your productivity and creativity. Ask your brain or your external critic, “What can WE do to make it better?” Yes, invite the one who critiques you (be it your brain or your friend) to be a part of your creative process. Together you will manage so much more. You’ll have a lot of fun, and if this is a friend or a family member, then this whole process might bring you much closer together than you could have ever imagined.

If you, on the other hand, are the one providing opinion on a work of a fellow writer, then be as kind as you wish others to be to you. And always, always (!) provide a suggestion how to improve your colleague’s work. Let them know what you would do, if this would be your work-in-progress.

I had recently an epiphany related to the above advice and also about quantity and quality recently.

I had a possibility to ask a fellow independent writer for a review copy. I chose a book because of the very intriguing description. The e-book was relatively long, estimated by Amazon to be 480 pages long.

I liked the main story a lot. And I also liked the side stories. But not the way they were woven together. The side stories sometimes distracted from the main one for too long. They started to become main stories of their own.

At first, I was afraid to comment on this book. I was afraid to offend the author. But then I wrote an e-mail with my opinion and suggestions what I would do to improve it, and the author appreciated it. I was surprised, but then I realized that I would appreciate it too.

And this is what I realized from this experience in respect to quantity and quality.

Telling several stories in parallel is risky and even for masters, like Jojo Moyers, for example whose book “The Girl You Left Behind” I mentioned in the previous article the Pace of a Story, lost me time to time as a reader or at least made more impatient in the evening hours, when I was already tired and wanted a story to sweep me away into its own world. Unfortunately another story got in-between and it wasn’t immediately visible how they were connected. Some thorough thinking and contemplating was needed to understand both stories. This contemplation was possible and pleasantly challenging in the mornings, with a cup of coffee in my hand, but not in the evenings when I wanted to relax from the busy day.

When I thought of the story of the independent author mentioned above I realized that I didn’t want her to cut out from the story and make only the main one visible. I rather wanted her to enhance those side stories and dedicate whole books to them as well, and create out of all that material a trilogy, a quartet, or a larger series of books.

It was an interesting discovery for me. The revision and the adjustment of the quantity to increase quality doesn’t always mean cutting the word count down, as many — among them Stephen King in his famous book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” — suggest while revising. It can also — as I understand now — mean to add much more material and restructure it to make the whole story, or even the world of this story completely impossible to leave it, at least not for a while.

I realize now that if I haven’t loved Jojo Moyers’ other books before “The Girl You Left Behind”, I might not have finished reading this book. Yes, there were moments in the day, when I loved the challenge she posed, but in general I love being unseemly challenged and not have to work hard to figure out the story.

I rarely dare to critic the masters and famous writers, but strangely I managed to critic not one but two in this article. It is scary, but I see that through this I find my own way in writing, the one which appeals to me right now. It might change in future, when I write other kinds of books, and I am curious to discover the quantity and quality of them.

Dear writers friends, let’s not get intimidated by the word count. It doesn’t matter that much. We can use quantity is a vehicle to achieve high quality. Quantity is not quality’s enemy. By manipulating quantity in a certain and intentional way we can reach the quality we are aiming.

Have you ever been critiqued about your word count (either internally by your own brain or from the outside)? If yes, then in what way? What do the quantity and quality mean for you in respect to writing and life in general?

Picture: Here is an example when increasing quantity enhances, in my opinion, quality. When there is harmony in a family or between friends, then the more time you spend with these cherished people the more wonderful the time spent with them feels like. Here is my son heading to his first graduation ball. It was “just” a kindergarten graduation ball, but I realized that the time will pass extremely fast until he will start heading to parties from his own home and not ours together. So being aware of every moment and enjoying as many of them as possible with my family, friends, colleagues, new people I meet, as well as on my own, or in other words the more of those intentionally enjoyed moments the higher the quality of my life.


“Cheerleading For Writers”, copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

Business Epiphanies: Managers Should Play Games and Learn How to Design Them

Disclaimer: I am not a game designer. At least not literally.

I wrote a motivational book on how to learn perseverance, to make progress in a long procrastinated project, and  how to do it almost effortlessly.

As I started writing this book, called “5 Minute Perseverance Game: Play Daily for a Month and Become the Ultimate Procrastination Breaker”, I had an idea to structure it in a way a board game description is structured. So I took a description of a game my husband gave me as a Christmas gift last year and put it beside my computer on my desk.

Then I also looked for the books addressing the game design.

I found two especially interesting:

  • “The Game Inventor’s Guidebook: How to Invent and Sell Board Games, Card Games, Role-Playing Games, & Everything in Between!”, Brian Tinsman, 2008

I must admit, I haven’t finished reading either of the books yet. Instead, I enjoy them in bits and pieces. And every time I read in them, a light bulb comes connected to my work.

A few words on my background. Most of the time in my over 20 years working career, I had to address in one way or another various management tasks, including planning and development of the operational processes, quality assurance procedures, in areas ranging from solid state physics and semiconductor device manufacturing to information technology, business process design and configuration management. Now as an owner of my own business, besides the project and time management, I also carry out reportedly the trickiest art of management, the self-management.

While I wrote my book on perseverance, I took a project and imagined I played a game with my procrastinating self to find out who would gather more points, me in making steady progress, with small 5 min-work steps every day, or my procrastination in hindering the progress.

I had so much fun with the game and the initially thought as daunting project that I wondered whether I could play this game also with other projects I have. I called my project book “game book” and started recording there moves for each project-game. The way I recorded also changed depending on how busy my day was with appointments or on my general state of mind. But the fun and curiosity on how I could structure my day and make progress in many of the projects, I need to handle during the same day, were predominant.

Recently I continued reading Brian Tinsman’s book “The Game Inventor’s Guidebook: How to Invent and Sell Board Games, Card Games, Role-playing Games & Everything in Between!” and saw the following passage about Richard Garfield, the inventor of the game “Magic: The Gathering”:

“For years, Richard had been playing around with ideas for a game that was ‘bigger than what came in the box.’ Drawing inspiration from a classic science-fiction strategy game called Cosmic Encounter, he envisioned a game that set up rules, then let every card in the game break them in different ways. Further, no player would really know all the powers every card might have — players would constantly be surprised. Only a genius could bridge the gap between imagining such a game and actually designing it. ‘I had no idea if such a game could be designed.’ Richard recalls, ‘But I decided to give it a shot.’”

“Wow,” I thought, “Isn’t it what a successful manager, a great boss, and a brilliant entrepreneurs are? The geniuses who can bridge the gap between having an idea for a product, service, or the business development and actually doing it and demonstrating how this can be done? And aren’t our daily lives at work (and at home) the games having certain rules but with so many surprises breaking almost each of the rules?”

As I realized that, I sat there for a few seconds with an open mouth. I was in a public place when I had this epiphany, so I hurried to close my mouth and take on a nonchalant look as soon as I observed what I was doing.

A bit later I realized that the more I considered my work as a strategic game the more creative, and actually the more serious about the task I became. Truly serious, that is without drama but with utter concentration and attention for the task at hand. I’ve discovered a new (seeming) paradox for myself. The more I considered my work as a game and took with that care that I had fun while attending to my duties, the more diligent and efficient I became.

I will surely continue playing multiple project games in my working days and I recommend you to do the same. Besides if you are a manager or an entrepreneur, I highly recommend you to research on gamification, but also on game design and learn how to design games.

Here is the list of reasons why I think you should learn how to design games:

    • Saying it with words of a chapter title in Brian’s Tinsman’s book on the game design, where he addressed one of the reasons why someone would want to design a game, “It’s Fun”.
    • You’ll relax and your work will lose that dramatic scent we all are perfumed with, when we take our lives and our work much too seriously.
    • You will have a glimpse into an incredibly fun and — in an inspiring way — strange industry, a magic land of its own.
    • You might find out how your favourite games were designed and by that learn a little about yourself and why you like them.
    • You might also find a connection between your favourite board or computer games and the job you are doing. My husband, for example, loves strategic computer games and his job has among other game theory at its basis.
    • You’ll discover new ideas and be inspired to create your own ideas for the task at hand or for your team.
    • You’ll start playing games and make your colleagues smile.
    • Thus, you’ll be a pleasure to work with.
    • You’ll be more relaxed and prepared when something unexpected happens.

Somehow I think you could add to this list. So I’m wondering, have you ever had a similar or maybe even the same epiphany? Do you agree or disagree with the above? Why?

I would love to hear from you and wish you a lot of fun in your daily games.

Picture: My game book of projects.


© 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

The e-book “5 Minute Perseverance Game: Play Daily for a Month and Become the Ultimate Procrastination Breaker” is available for only $2.99 at:

What’s Your Favorite Thesaurus? Share It To Unlock The WHW Prize Vault

I’m a huge fan of thesauri. I often consult them to remind me of a meaning of a word or to teach me the meaning of an unknown one. Thesauri are simply vital for non-native writers in a language. They are fun, but they are also brilliantly structured. What can be better than a book structured in alphabetical order? After contemplating how to organize a resource for writers I am currently writing, I chose exactly that structure, the alphabetical one.

I also love studying various books on writing craft. So of course it was just a matter of time for me to discover The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi. This resource is one of those I use most while I write the first draft of my books, but especially during revision and rewrites. I highly recommend it to all writers, both of fiction and non-fiction!

I have also a thing about settings. Or rather I often find myself trying to skip their descriptions and resist writing them. Therefore I was thrilled when Angela and Becca asked the fans of their website Writers Helping Writers, whether we would like to join the launch team. Of course I said YES. I am reading now a review copy of the The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces and I simply love it. It does take a lot of my fears toward the settings away. And I am growing curious to play with setting descriptions and see how they would change the stories I create.

Below you will find the details on the launch and especially about the fun activities planned by Becca and Angela during the launch week.

If you love thesauri, then join in the fun of sharing and discovering the beauty of English language and languages in general.

In spite of what happened in Orlando, have a wonderful day and week. I truly think that this launch week could help brighten at least a little the heavy times after what had happened.


There’s nothing better than becoming lost within the story world within minutes of starting a book. And as writers, this is what we’re striving to do: pull the reader in, pull them down deep into the words, make them feel like they are experiencing the story right alongside the hero or heroine.

A big part of achieving this is showing the character’s surroundings in a way that is textured and rich, delivering this description through a filter of emotion and mood. It means we have to be careful with each word we choose, and describe the setting in such a way that each sight, sound, taste, texture, and smell comes alive for readers. This is no easy task, especially since it is so easy to overdo it—killing the pace, slowing the action, and worst of all, boring the reader. So how can we create a true unique experience for readers and make them feel part of the action while avoiding descriptive missteps that will hurt the story?

writershelpingwriters_logo_300x300px_finalWell, there’s some good news on this front. Two new books have released this week that may change the description game for writers. The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to City Spaces and The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces look at the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds that a character might experience within 225 different contemporary settings. And this is only the start of what these books offer writers.

In fact, swing by and check out this hidden entry from the Urban Setting Thesaurus: Antiques Shop.

And there’s one more thing you might want to know more about….

Rock_The_Vault_WHW1Becca and Angela, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, are celebrating their double release with a fun event going on from June 13-20th called ROCK THE VAULT. At the heart of Writers Helping Writers is a tremendous vault, and these two ladies have been hoarding prizes of epic writerly proportions.

A safe full of prizes, ripe for the taking…if the writing community can work together to unlock it, of course.

Ready to do your part? Stop by Writers Helping Writers to find out more!

Cheerleading for Writers: P – Pace of a Story

Pace of a story used to be the main criteria, according to which I judged the quality of a book I read or pieces of that book. I realize now, that I rarely said that the certain topic of a book or its piece didn’t interest me. I usually said that it was too slow.

Now when I manage not to take my thoughts too literally or too serious, I am fascinated to realize that I perceive a faster flowing story better than a “slower” one.

Even, when many (including me) agree that it is reasonable and healthy to slow down, the hurry of thoughts and a wish to get fast somewhere else than where we are right now, seems to be a default programing of our brains. At least it seems to be the default program running inside my head. If something is done (or maybe even not yet done), the question of what’s next arises, and faster and faster, until my brain can’t deal with it anymore and either explodes with frustration or leads me to sleep.

Is it how the babies’ brains function — absorbing as much information as they possibly can, and that with a crazy pace, after which taking an extensive break to process all that? I remember thinking that the smallest of humans are extremely calm and slow and process the world with a pleasant pace. But are they really? I guess, the exact answer will never be known even if the scientists found out that the development of the human brain and learning of new skills occurs rather in big leaps than gradually.

Having now two young children, I learned that when they grow most impatient and irritable, then they are in the process to learn something substantially new, at it makes sense then to give them time and space to complete that leap.

Hm, should I maybe allow that myself too?

I discovered once that there was a difference on how I perceived a book as a reader depending on the time of the day I read it and in general on my state, whether I was tired at the end of a busy day, or fresh in the morning with the first cup of espresso on the table in front of me. Even the same passages of the same book read differently at different time of he day.

I remember how I complained about the structure of the book “The Girl You Left Behind” by Jojo Moyes, which presented two stories with two main characters, and where each of these stories took place in different times. I usually complained in the evenings how one chapter was from one story and the next one jumped backed in time to follow the other story. Sometimes these jumps in time were even within the same chapter. When I read the same book in the morning, I nodded with appreciation that both stories and how the book was written stirred and challenged me and that I did like reading it and discovering the connection between the two stories. And I realized that I enjoyed the book only…when I gave myself time to read it without trying to finish reading and get to the end of it.

Is this what happens usually in the evenings? Our brains simply searching an end, so that they get some rest?

Recently I have read an article by Ariel and Shya Kane where Ariel remembered finding a shopping list for groceries, which was discovered in her grandmother’s belongings on the day she died. Her grandmother lived a fulfilled life, but she still had a list of things she wanted to do on that last day. This story was extremely touching and revealing. It showed me that there will always be things that I won’t manage to complete. But this doesn’t mean that something is incomplete in my life.

Now I realize that I am capable of creating endless lists of what I could do. And curiously enough, at the same time I want to have them finished all at once. This is quite a quirkily naive paradox!

Another interesting thing I discovered when I complain about the pace in a book, is that there is something I am resisting, so that I can’t stop processing this in my mind. When something reminds me of that unresolved issue, then I’m stuck and struggle to get over it, so I blame the source of that reminder, that is the book I am reading in being too slow and not letting me to get to the interesting bit. This happened for example when I read for the first time Ariel and Shya Kane’s latest book “Practical Enlightenment”. While reading one of the chapters somewhere in the middle of the book, I heard myself thinking, “Oh, this bit lacks a story, an example. They only describe the challenge people face, but they should have better written instead about a concrete event happened to them or other people, and this would make the point stronger.”

Mind you, there are examples, tales and stories of real people following each point Ariel and Shya made in their book. But at some point I had these thoughts again. At that time I stopped. “Wait a second,” I said to myself. “What is happening here? Did Ariel and Shya maybe hit the spot in me with those words? Is there something I avoid and those words simply stirred a sensitive cord?”

I sighed bravely and said in my thoughts, “OK, let’s check it.”

I reread those passages I criticized in my head, and sure enough, there was an unresolved knot, which made something inside me squeeze and feel uncomfortable, a point where I felt vulnerable. I tried to relax and consider that point non-judgmentally. Funnily enough, this was something I thought was resolved. I don’t remember now what exactly that was, but I do remember that it was something I had thought of not being too sensitive about anymore. So, this little “complaining-about-pace-incident” and the experiment with seeing what caused it, was very revealing.

Those complains are neither good or bad. They are just indicators that a change might be needed, whether in thinking or activity.

Yes, these complains appear also with books that don’t interest me. But that doesn’t mean that these books are bad. They definitely can be perceived as great to other people. And thus they are great. Just not for me. They are simply not what my heart wants to lead me to. But why am I sometimes forcing myself to finish a book and complain that it is bad? Why don’t I leave that book in peace instead  and turn my attention to a book or a story that would appeal to me?

So my perception of the pace in a book is probably an indicator what is the state of my mind in that given moment or what my expectations are in respect to the given books, or something completely else about myself I am still to discover.

Realizing this also makes me understand varying reactions toward my books. I had various feedback toward the same book from various readers and editor. Some had only editorials to communicate, and others said that my book lacked description in many places, that I took for granted that readers knew what I meant. Slowing down or even stopping and looking did the trick: I found out where it felt right to add more description and which bits I wanted to keep as they were. And then I discovered that I could write pages of enjoyable description and have fun doing it.

So what is the right pace for a story in a book? Is there an absolute value? Is it like riding a bike, going neither too slow nor too fast, so that it can move further, without the cyclist falling down and injuring herself? Yes, it is most probably like riding a bike, but not only to keeping it up, but also slowing down, pushing it up a hill, or even stopping and putting it away, when it is time to take a break or when the path has ended.

The path of this article is ending now and I have a few questions for you. What are you judging when you think of a book as being good or bad? Is it also the pace of a story or something else? What is your state of mind when you enjoy the story more or less? Does your reaction toward the story you read show something about yourself and your perception of the world around? Do you read books only when you are in a certain state of mind or certain circumstances? If yes, what are they?

Picture: My toddler daughter is testing every day, what is the perfect pace for her to walk and in what clothes. Several days ago she discovered my red top and wanted to wear it. And up came a long “evening dress” for a toddler, which made her pace and way of walking different than in comfortable leggings or jeans.


“Cheerleading For Writers”, copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels