In my writing life, I’ve experimented with writing in long and short paragraphs. When it comes to suspense writing, I like to use short, one-sentence paragraphs for dramatic effect to set something apart to get the reader’s attention.

And, then there are the writers like Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Rick Telander.

Rick is a nice guy who’s been kind enough to return a few e-mails of mine.

But when he writes, it seems like every single paragraph consists of only one sentence.

Yep, just one.

Then there are the writers from the colonial days of America. Their paragraphs go on and on and on and on. Some of them go on for page after page. After a while, it gets to where it’s almost impossible to concentrate. You wonder if the guy’s doing this to conserve paper or because he just doesn’t feel like moving on to another paragraph. Perhaps it would be a sin to changeth paragraphs, methinks.

Myself, I like writing in longer paragraphs with visits into the short paragraphs when it suits a purpose. I guess that longer paragraphs look like they hold more thoughts and took more work to do.

Bizarre story from work

It’s a court case, and that’s all I’d prefer to say for now. A lady from one of our sister newspapers was giving me some insight to some odd stuff that happened today. In all honesty, it reminded me of a disturbing scene from The Devil’s Advocate. For now, I’ll leave it at that.

Are spooky house stories overdone?

I’m outlining what could be either a long short story or perhaps even a novel. Working title comes from a cheesy long short story I wrote when I was younger: The House on Birch Street. That story (which I don’t mind divulging since it’s cheesy) was about this man who buys this old, beautiful house from this eccentric man. Borrowing elements from Amityville Horror and Homebodies, I came up with this idea of a suit of armor that comes to life and throws an ax at our hero. That and he learns that the eccentric man he bought the house from was actually a satanist who, along with his ancestors before him, buried countless murder victims in the basement. That story ends with the hero marrying the hot blonde girl and–I kid you not–blowing up the house by buying a black market rocket launcher from a local gun dealer.

Well, as a writer, I’ve always wanted to write a story about a house that’s quasi-haunted. It’s been overdone, of course, and many modern cinematic attempts at it stink. Then there are the paperback novels like Ghost Child, which can be pretty interesting.

So now, I’m outlining it and finding some really interesting results. Don’t know how it’ll end yet, but I think I have something that could possibly work. The idea, of course, is to do something nobody else has done.

Getting that creepy feeling when reading a great suspense novel

One of my favorite Stephen King works is the novella Apt Pupil. Avoid the movie: it sucks. I think it was a victim of a strained attempt at a happy ending. The novella is much better.

Nothing creeped me out more in the story than when Morris Heisel, curious in an almost crazy way by the way Arthur Denker said the phrase, “You must tell us all about it. Omit nothing”, finally remembers who from his past spoke in that same manner–Kurt Dussander, the death camp commandant responsible for the murder of Heisel’s family.


Received kudos today on pictures I took at a school haunted house. HOpefully more of that where that came from. I enjoy photography, but I have a ways to go to reach Annie Liebovitz status.

Multi-tasking in fiction

So, here’s my fiction schedule: I have a novel that I’m about 75 percent finished with the rough draft. I have about seven short stories in final edit mode, others in edit mode and several with unfinished rough drafts.

I also have about 30 short story ideas that have been outlined.

What type of schedule works well for writers out there to get these things done? This is on top of my journalism job, blogging and freelance writing job.

Latest in writing

Just finished off my first big investigative reporting piece for the newspaper. It more or less fell into my lap. My editor, whose investigative skills dwarf mine, got a tip from one of his sources. But, for reasons I’d rather not go into here, he recused himself from the story. I did an interview, drew from another interview and wrote it up. Good stuff. Thought it was pretty fair and balanced…

…Looked over The Writer magazine and Writer’s Digest. Good stuff in there, as well as fiction writing challenges.

…Looking to buy a digital voice recorder, one that can record a minimum of 50 hours of stuff at a time but can easily download onto a computer in an mp3 format. Anyone have any suggestions?

Sorry it’s been so long since my last posting

Work at the newspaper has been very, very hectic lately, coupled with a freelance assignment that will buy some desperately-needed items. Would rather not get into any further detail than that.

Yes, working at the newspaper is a joy. It’s a solid venture into real-world civilian journalism. Seems that you don’t realize just how much fun journalism is when you spend your first three years of it writing mostly for military newspapers.

As I drive around town and interview people and try to establish professional relationships, two things come to mind: reading Writer’s Digest and The Writer and thinking of cool fiction ideas.

Writing concisely and quickly

A few weeks ago at the newspaper it was a real marathon. I ended up writing 15 articles, ranging from 300-word straight news articles about a last-minute news story to long, 900-word flowing features. Very long, very tedious. I remember that Friday night getting home and sleeping a good, solid nine hours.

As I continue in this profession, I remind myself that when writing quickly, the best way to go about it in journalism is take the information, extract what’s the most important and focus on that. We only have so many words to work with, so we must summarize in a way that tells the story and encourages a person to keep reading.