(20 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

j p lundstrom wrote:

It's happened again. Someone just read a short story of mine, and reviewed it by saying it would make a good book.

Sorry, guys, but that's insulting. It's my work, and I make the determination of format, genre and language. That's like coming to my house for dinner and telling me you like my lasagne, but I should have served roast beef. What the hell!

I am very careful not to tell a writer how his/her story should be written. Helping each other out by spotting errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling and word choice is one thing. I appreciate that. But I have had reviews that suggested so many or such drastic changes, I would have been taking dictation for someone else's story if I had made them. If you don't like the way I wrote my story, go write your own.

Please don't be insulted by my response, and I won't be insulted by your suggestion. JP

Hi JP,

While I agree with the sentiment that one should let the author tell the story they way they want, I think a comment that a story could be turned into a novel is relatively benign. In fact, the novel I just published, “Mysterious Ways”, started as a short story here. Many of the reviewers suggested it could be a novel, which got my mind percolating. I’m grateful for the suggestions.



(14 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

alkemi wrote:

Hi Don, I went to Amazon.com and tried to buy a copy. The Amazon.com gestapo said I was an enemy alien and not permitted to buy anything on Amazon.com. They shunted me to Amazon.ca which is okay, I can still buy a copy, but you won't benefit from the tiny little benefit to your Amazon.com best seller ranking. And don't accept any Canadian pennies when they try to pay you. They've not been legal tender for years.

That one sell put me at #235 in Canadian Contemporary Fantasy, so I’m not too upset. smile

Just wanted to announce the publication of "Mysterious Ways", which was workshopped here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D3JJ73C/re … n+chambers

I wanted to thank everyone who reviewed it, but especially Seabrass and J. P. Lundstrom who read every single chapter. Your dedication and comments really helped toward the end when I wasn't sure I was going to finish it.

For those of you who were reading it and want to finish, I plan to keep it up until the end of the month.



(24 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

Hi Alan,

Late to the party, but congratulations on the publication. I’ll have to download it and read the final version.


I'll give it a go, too, Ryan, although I can't promise I will be able to keep up if you want all the reviews in by the end of July. It sounds like an interesting premise. I have two completed novels on here (both fantasy, although one is sci-fi/fantasy), so there's lots of my stuff you can read for points.



(3 replies, posted in Cop Shop)

Hi Allen,

Good to hear from you and glad you feel energized again. I took a good six months off from the site and came back with a lot more vim and vigor. I'll look for your revisions.



(11 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

I think you can definitely have the protagonist be different than the narrator. I know of several examples like this -- Moby Dick, the Great Gatsby come to mind. All are older literature, though, so it has fallen out of vogue. I can't think of anything published in the last fifty years that has done it. Still, that doesn't mean you shouldn't try it.

The one limitation I think is that you need to keep the narrator the same throughout the book, so you will not be able to switch POV. First person would seem the best POV in this case.

I personally would like to see you try it!


(18 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

Looks like Nyx has also hijacked several of the new author profiles as well.


(18 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

I figured I wasn't alone when I saw this. Luckily I use an iPad , so should be safe. Hope Sol can get it resolved soon and put in better protections.

I have also come up with a book title that I am convinced will sell millions of copies, but I am generous and will share it with everyone:

"The #1 Bestseller"

By Don Chambers

Think it will work? smilesmile


(2 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

Hi Janet,

Bad reviews suck, but it's the price we pay for making our works available on Amazon. They allow reviews from anyone with a purchase history and sometimes their robot will throw out good reviews because their algorithm deems it is from someone who knows the author, or there are too many good reviews. Whatever. I just try to ignore the reviews and not worry about them

A review on one of my books was:
"Yes it is fiction but it is so unrealistic that it is ridiculous. ... This book is stupid down to the last scene"

yet the same person said on another book:
"Good book, nice plot, the first of John and Liz collier mysteries and a lot better than book number two."

Don't know if he ever read Book 3 and don't care. Just remember, one bad review won't affect the overall rating unless it's the only one.

Beta readers are some friends who aren't on this site who read the near final draft and give me their overall opinion before I publish.


(7 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

Sounds like a major bug. I checked and I can't see your portfolio, either. Hopefully, everything is still there and Sol can help you get it sorted out. One thing you might try is clearing the cache of your browser, logging out of the site, then logging back in.

I'll throw in my dime (adjusted for inflation). As others have said, wiring in first person present is tough to do without making tense mistakes, since we are used to past tense in writing. However, with some work, it becomes easy. I've written several novels that way. One benefit is that I find it allows the author to better express action of the moment and keeps the flow dynamic. I think this is one reason it has grown popular among YA authors -- the readers like to think this story is happening to them as they read it, as if they are truly experiencing it -- not reading a memoir of the events later.

With that said, one of the drawbacks is you are sometimes tied too deeply into a single character. Some try to fix this with alternating first person voices. This can work, if done properly. Where it doesn't work is when you throw in too many first person perspectives. Then it just gets confusing. Third person is much better for that.

I'm actually in the process of rewriting a scientific thriller into third person past tense because some of my trusted beta readers hated the first person tense, even though they liked it in another novel I wrote. After reading both pieces, I think third person past does work better. So sometimes you need to experiment both ways and see which one speaks to you and your audience the most.

Don't know if that helps any, but there it is.



(27 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

Hi Tom,

I'm with Jack and Corra -- I prefer the simplicity of #1. I feel like #2 and #3 have too many competing elements, which distract too much.

Good luck.


(10 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed that a lot.


(8 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

Welcome to the site. I've tried several of the "competitors" and I can understand why you might be concerned, but TNBW is NOT those other sites. As njc said, there's not a lot of "social media" aspects here --  it's mainly about the writing. You can spend all your time here publishing your writing, getting helpful and constructive comments and helping others, and just work with a small cadre of like-minded contacts. Or you can do that and interact with more people on the forums. It's your choice and it's a great place to grow as a writer. 

It's a little scary to post that first story or give that first critique, but as Nike says, "Just Do It!" That's really the best way to connect. Look forward to seeing more from you.

I'm surprised they consider the sex scenes too much -- considering what has been published in mainstream best sellers (and I'm not just thinking Fifty Shade of Grey). I didn't think it was that over the top. I guess they don't like "vulva" or "labia" or "clitoris"? But I've been accused of writing pornography before, so I guess I shouldn't be talking.

I think the story is great as is. I looked at the website, and Scarlett Rose is geared more strongly to erotica than paranormal. If you go the Scarlett Rose road, I would be afraid your book would not sell as well -- it's really more paranormal than erotic. In this case, some minor editing (like taking out the words I've listed above) won't change the story much and you will likely find a wider audience.

Whatever you decide, congratulations! And please post the rest. smile



(2 replies, posted in Cop Shop)

j p lundstrom wrote:

This just came up about Chapter 4 of At the Movies.
A murder occurs in the theater manager's office while the regularly scheduled movies are being shown. The body is discovered later. When the police arrive, do they hold all the moviegoers as possible witnesses, or let them go, since there is not much chance that anyone saw anything? Would they take names, then let them go home? This is a large theater with 8 movies showing.

I would think not, because like you said, it would be unlikely they would have seen anything and it would be a tremendous waste of time with a low probability of return. Plus, it would let all the patrons know there had been a murder, which is probably the last thing the police would want to get out at that stage. They'd probably limit interviews to the staff.

To hedge your bets, though, you could have a new detective or regular police officer ask about it, and have the senior detective say it was a waste of time.


Norm d'Plume wrote:

Hi. Can someone please tell me if there is a way to hide an entire book (not just the chapters) without losing the book and all of the associated chapter reviews. I can't afford to lose those.


If you go to the publish section of the book, you can make each chapter inactive. But you have to do it chapter by chapter, and not just once for the book. You can still see the reviews, but no one else will be able to see it.


(23 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

Don Chambers wrote:
SolN wrote:

Are you experiencing the problem on a certain device or particular part of the site?


Hi Sol,

I just encountered the problem on my iPad (using Safari) and on my Mac (using Firefox). Strangely, I did I've the warning on the Mac running safari.

And in both cases, it was at the login page.


(23 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

SolN wrote:

Are you experiencing the problem on a certain device or particular part of the site?


Hi Sol,

I just encountered the problem on my iPad (using Safari) and on my Mac (using Firefox). Strangely, I did I've the warning on the Mac running safari.

Akhere I. wrote:

Don, if I alternate the main two MC POVs well, can I have one chapter from a side character? It's mostly so we can see the MC from the rest of the town's eyes and to introduce another problem the MC can't know about. Also, is present mandatory? My story is in past so converting it to present would get me all... tense *Ba boom tiss*

It doesn't HAVE to be present, but I have found that present tense really pulls the first person narrative into the immediacy of the action that is happening, rather than feeling like a narrative told later.

I also disagree with Rhiannon a little regarding adding the voice of a "mystery person" in a novel written from alternating first person POV. In some respects, it's cheating, and weakens the story a little IMO. The strength of first person POV is that the reader is totally in that character's head -- they cannot see the conspiracy around them, for instance, until they interact with it. Yes, this is limiting, and the temptation is to do as Rhiannon suggests and write a short snippet here or there from the "mystery" persons POV to let the reader know a little more. But it takes us out of experiencing the story as a character, into more of a perspective of watching it on TV or the movies. Most of the time, you can remove those snippets and just have the MCs interact with the mystery or find a clue that gets the same point across.

If such a scene is vital to the story, then I think third person is better, because that allows you to flit from character to character as if watching a movie. This is an especially good technique in thrillers.

Of course, all of this is my opinion, and one can do whatever they want. A story I'm reading on the site has alternated between first person, third, and even second person, using four characters. Although it's extremely well written, I'm not entirely sure it works, and it is not something I would recommend for a novice writer. It is an interesting experiment, though, which is why this site is so cool.

Norm d'Plume wrote:

Don Chambers on this site uses first-person multiple POVs. He frequently alternates between two characters on a chapter-by-chapter basis. You may want to contact him to see what guidance he can give. Perhaps he can recommend one of his books to read/review. He's an excellent reviewer.

I started with omniscient, but most current fiction is third limited, so I switched. Fortunately, I did. There are several chapters that absolutely would not have worked in omniscient. If you plan to self-publish, you can break whatever rules you like. Some of the best-selling fiction of all time used omniscient, although the ones I know were written a long time ago.

You beat my reply by a millisecond, Dirk. smile

Akhere I. wrote:

Hi there, I was considering changing my book, the Naked Forest, so that it's in the first person. However, there are two narratives so I wanted to see if anyone else wrote a story like this and what everyone's thoughts on the matter were.

Currently, the book is in the third person and is kind of third limited but also a bit omniscient. I want to know what the best way to structure my book would be so any insight would be helpful.

I haven't written any YA novels, but I have written several adult novels utilizing that device and I think it is very effective if you: 1) have two strong MCs that require separate POVs (for example, they will separate and their different actions are critical to the plot), 2) alternate the voices on a consistent basis (for example every other chapter), and 3) do not randomly add another character's first person POV just because you want to, and 4) want to use present tense.

I have found one has to be very disciplined to write this way, and may have to revise certain plot points to maintain the consistency. I've read some stories that do it well, but others that randomly just throw in different characters using first person POV rather willy nilly. The latter, IMO, does not work as well, because as a reader you've firmly established yourself in one chapter's POV, then the switch is jarring. But by alternating from the beginning, the reader establishes the pattern and is used to it.

One of my current WIPs (Ghost in the Machine) is written using alternating first person POV if you want to check it out.

The main drawback to this narrative style is you can't have an omniscient POV, unless one of the voices is God. smile