First Person Limited Viewpoint

When you employ the first person narrative voice, in which the hero tells his own story, you strengthen further the advantages of concentrating on a single lead character. If your lead is fresh, untyped, and individual, he can best be presented by letting him color the story events with his own judgments. The serious drawback to first person narration is the awkwardness with which the hero must speak of himself. Writing in third person, you can be objective; but if he is telling about himself, he cannot dwell too much on his own appearance or thoughts, lest he appear unsympathetic and egomaniacal.

The new writer should stick with the third person limited viewpoint until he has sold a number of pieces, if only because three-quarters of all the novels sold and published are told in that voice.

In conversation, I am an incurable anecdote-teller, no matter what the subject, and I like to think I tell them amusingly. However, as I reach the middle of a recollection, I often interrupt the real story while I explain the background of a side issue.

"Get on with it!" my wife shouts. "You wouldn't write the story with all these interruptions in it!" She's correct.

But many writers do write it that way, halting the narrative flow to drop in huge chunks of previous history which are intended to help explain the developments prior to the beginning of the story, so the reader can see how these characters got into the mess they're now trying to get out of. Called flashbacks, these explanations are so often used improperly that many editors and writers shun them altogether. If a story is begun at its real beginning, the writer should not have to use many flashbacks.

At times, though, a flashback can add vital character information or help clear up a plot point. When such an occasion arises, the best and only rule for flashback use is to keep it short, never more than a small paragraph, and to the point.

Here's an example of an overextended flashback in the opening pages of a Western novel:

John Masters stood on the front porch of the post office, the newspaper held tight as a drum skin between his hands, and read how Kaplo, in the company of three other convicted murderers, had escaped from Yuma Prison. When he was finished, he knew he would have to make preparations for Kaplo. The young killer would show up here, soon, anxious for revenge. Masters remembered how it had been in court, four years ago, when he had testified against Kaplo. As county sheriff, Masters had seen each of the kid's victims shortly after the bodies were found—always young women, always molested first and brutally slain immediately after. Masters had headed the investigation, had found the traces Kaplo left behind, had set the kid running, had lost two of ten good deputies in the chase, and had captured Kaplo himself after four days of hard riding. In court, when he said that Kaplo was insane and recommended the death penalty, the kid had stood up, screaming incoherently and had, when finally put forcefully back in his seat, threatened revenge should he ever escape Yuma where he was sentenced to life at hard labor and denied visiting privileges for the entire length of his imprisonment. Now, Kaplo was coming to fulfill his promise.

Properly written, containing all the vital facts, that same flashback would read like this:

John Masters stood on the front porch of the post office, the newspaper held tight as a drum skin between his hands, and read how Kaplo, in the company of three other convicted murderers, had escaped from Yuma Prison. When he finished, he knew he must prepare to face Kaplo. The young killer would show up here soon, anxious for revenge. Four years ago, Masters had tracked him down, losing two good deputies in the process, and arrested him for the brutal sex slayings of three county women. In court, when he had called Kaplo a madman and recommended incarceration in an asylum rather than the death penalty, the kid had flared, angry, and promised revenge. Now he was coming to fulfill his promise.

Almost a hundred words shorter, the paragraph still contains all the important data, with less of an interruption in the narrative.

When writing a flashback, avoid the use of the word "had" except to clearly set the scene as past event. For example, the following flashback contains too many "had" reminders:

Bill had gone to the garage where he had started the car and had driven away from the house. He had had enough money in his wallet to buy a good dinner, and he had drunk what remained, had become, quite honestly, soused to the gills.

Properly written, this flashback should be:

Bill had gone to the garage, started the car and driven away from the house. He had enough money in his wallet to buy a good dinner, and he had drunk what remained until he was, quite honestly, soused to the gills.

Finally, avoid using the observer frame for your story, in which the first person narrator prefaces and ends the story with statements that this was the way he saw it all happen. This technique, made popular by Conan Doyle in his Sherlock Holmes stories, renders the plot all past event, one long flashback, and it robs the story of its immediacy.

Your style will evolve naturally as you continue to write, and you should not make much of a conscious effort to develop it. Of course, every writer should strive to create clear and dramatic prose, but if you are trying to write beautiful prose full of catchy similes and metaphors and other figures of speech, you have reached a point where you should stop and reconsider what you are doing. Whether or not you recognize it, you have your own voice already, one the reader will identify as yours, and you have only to let it grow of its own accord. If you make a conscious effort to form an individual style, you will more often end by imitating the work of writers whom you admire. Unconscious imitation, but imitation nonetheless.

In recent years, a number of young science fiction writers have striven to gain the praise of the literati, because critics have long ignored category fiction in general and science fiction in particular. These young Turks became concerned about writing styles, experimented, broadened science fiction's horizons, and generated much genuine excitement within the form. A few, disappointed that the literary world repaid this enthusiasm with only a smile and a nod, decided the mainstream critics had not accepted the field because it was still not good enough. They never wondered if the fault might lie in the perceptions, breadth of vision, and prejudices of the critics—and not in an innate failure of science fiction itself. As a result, they became even more conscious of style, more picky about word choices; rewriting and revising their work endlessly. A few of them worried themselves into writing blocks that they may never get out of unless they understand what misconceptions of their own put them where they are today. One acquaintance of mine, a better than average science fiction novelist, became so determined to polish each word so well and to write "perfect" prose that his once-promising career has collapsed. After several popular books, he has gone nearly three years without finishing another and has earned editorial disapproval by failing to deliver books that were contracted for on outlines and sample chapters. The warning is clear: if you attempt to force your style, to consciously develop your voice, you are concentrating on only one facet of fiction and are losing the perspective and spontaneity that makes your work readable and saleable.

There is one rule of style that every writer can benefit from: say it as simply, as clearly, and as shortly as possible. Only two genres are hospitable to the baroque style of writing—fantasy and Gothic-romance; all other categories are better suited to crisp, lean prose.

For example, let's postulate a detective hero, Joe Black, and two punks who are beating him up. Here's how the scene might be overwritten:

Riccio and Goldone took turns delivering the punishment. Riccio was carrying a pebble-filled kosh, and he slammed it hard against Black's skull, driving the detective to his knees. Lights sprang up behind Black's eyes, pretty lights dancing around and around... He didn't have an opportunity to appreciate them, because Goldone stepped in front of him, grabbed his head and brought a knee up hard, under his chin. Black croaked and passed out.

When he came to, he tasted blood, but forgot about that when Goldone goaded him to his feet. Riccio, standing behind him, brought the kosh in several times, in hard, rapid strokes, placing it square on Black's kidneys. The detective's knees jellied, but he somehow managed to stay on his feet. Riccio pinned his arms, then, while Goldone, grinning, came forward and methodically pistol whipped the detective's face. Black felt his lips split and dribble blood. His cheeks were gashed by the pistol barrel. Sweat and blood ran down into his eyes and blurred his vision.

This kind of thing can go on and on. And, if used only once or twice in a novel, can be very effective. The shorter, more direct, less melodramatic version will, however, be more often suitable:

Using fists, a pebble-filled kosh and a pistol barrel, Riccio and Goldone gave Joe Black the worst beating of his life. They drove him to his knees, urged him back onto his feet, and slammed him down again. Over and over. Relentlessly. They broke his teeth, split his lips and tore open his face. He was glad when he finally pitched forward, unconscious. They might continue to kick and hit him, but he wouldn't feel it—until he woke.

That's less than half as long as the first version but still adequately describes the action. Unless the scene in question is the climactic scene which should be milked for all its potential suspense, this sparser prose style is always the better of the two.

When describing a character's state of mind or reaction to story events, understatement is more effective than wordy scenes. For example, when showing a nervous character, a new writer may unnecessarily puff the description like this:

Joe Black wiped the perspiration from his forehead, wiped his trembling hand on his slacks. His car was parked a block down the street from Riccio's house, but there was still a chance he might be spotted in his stake out. He ran a finger around his collar, finally loosened the button at his throat and slipped off his tie. He kept clearing his throat when he didn't need to, and he had tapped out a dozen favorite tunes on the steering wheel before half an hour had passed.

A better way to project this image might be:

His car was parked a block down the street from Riccio's home, but there was still a chance he might be spotted in his stake out. While he waited for Riccio to show, Black methodically shredded several paper handkerchiefs. He did not even realize that he was making a mess.

One clue to a character's mental state, if properly developed, is more effective than a catalogue of his every movement.

When describing a new setting as it first appears in a novel—a new street, house, hotel, room, bit of landscape-decide whether it warrants a lengthy description. If it is the focus of only one or two minor scenes, it does not deserve the same detailing as does the place where the climax and other important plot developments transpire. If, for example, a motel room in Chapter Three needs only a short description, don't treat it like this:

The hotel room depressed Joe Black. It measured twelve by eight feet, and it was made even smaller by the weak yellow light and the small, dirty window in the far wall. The only furniture was a swaybacked bed dressed in yellowed sheets and a battered chest of drawers with a cigarette scarred surface. The paint was spotted and peeling and discolored by too many years, too much cigarette smoke and too many sorrows absorbed from the tenants. The floor was covered with cracked, gray linoleum and stained with dozens of brands of spilled whiskey.

More to the point and less of an interruption in the narrative flow is this version:

The hotel room depressed Joe Black. Small, shabby and poorly lighted, it was the sort of room to which a poor man brought a whore, where a junkie came to shoot up, or where a hopeless wino ended up when he went somewhere to drink himself to death.

In less than half the words used in the first version, we've created the same atmosphere of poverty and despair. Economy of language is the most important stylistic goal.

Erroneously, many new writers think fiction should be a mirror of reality. Actually, it should act as a sifter to refine reality until only the essence is before the reader. This is nowhere more evident than in fictional dialogue. In real life, conversation is often roundabout, filled with general commentary and polite rituals. In fiction, the characters must always get right to the point when they talk. For example, if one of your characters has been threatened by a psychotic killer and is sure his house is being watched at night, he would not approach a neighbor for confirmation of his fears in this natural but extended manner:

Jack Moffet hesitated, then knocked on the Halseys' front door.

In a moment, Bill Halsey answered the knock. "Why, Jack! How are you, you old sonofagun?"

"Fine, fine," Moffet said, though he wasn't fine at all.

Jack followed Halsey into the quiet of the front hallway and then to the living room where Lena Halsey was sitting in an easy chair reading the evening paper.

"Look who's here, Lena," Bill said.

"Jack! We haven't seen you in a couple of weeks."

"Yes, I have been busy."

"Sit down," Bill said.

Koontz,Dean_-_Writing_Popolur_Fiction(1.0) Jack took a seat.

"Can I get you coffee or anything?" Lena asked. "No thanks," Jack said.

"It's past coffee time," Bill said chuckling. "How about a drink?" "No, I—"

"It's no trouble," Bill said. "I'm going to make myself something, so you might as well join me." "Scotch, then," Jack said. "On the rocks."

When they had their drinks, Bill said. "Now, what brings you over here after two weeks of being a hermit?" "I have a problem," Jack said. "Maybe you can help me with it."

And so on. Though a real life conversation would run something like this, it is not adequate for fiction. You must trim and get to the point:

Jack Moffet hesitated, then knocked on the Halseys' front door.

In a moment, Bill Halsey answered the knock. "Jack! How are you? We haven't seen you in weeks." "Actually," Moffet said, "I'm not too good, Bill."

"Oh?" Halsey said, ushering him into the livingroom. "What's the problem?"

Jack nodded to Lena, Bill's wife, and said, "I may sound like a paranoid, but I honestly believe someone is trying to kill me. I think they've been watching my house at night, waiting to build up their nerve."

That's more to the point. However, you can go overboard when compressing dialogue. Avoid something as hasty as this:

Jack Moffet hesitated, then knocked on the Halseys' front door. In a moment, Bill Halsey answered the knock. Before he could say anything, Moffet said, breathlessly, "Someone is trying to kill me, Bill. I need your help!"

Dialogue is essential to the rhythm of a story, and few novels are bought that contain less than twenty or thirty percent dialogue. A book filled with heavy, narrative paragraphs is not as psychologically appealing to the browsing book buyer as one in which the narrative is broken regularly by sprightly stretches of short, conversational exchanges between characters.

However, a very long section of dialogue can become as boring as page after page of unrelieved narrative. Sometimes, in mystery and suspense novels when the hero must finally explain how a situation is to be resolved or is to identify the killer to the other characters, the writer must present a great deal of information as dramatically as possible. In order not to bore the reader with page-long soliloquies by the hero, you can interrupt the hero by having other characters challenge his facts, his conclusions, or pose other questions for him to answer. And, if the reader has already been shown the killer's identity and how the hero arrived at his conclusions, you will not want to repeat everything verbatim to enlighten the other characters. In a situation like this, you can employ indirect dialogue to sum up what has already been shown. For example:

Joe Black waited until they were all seated in the drawing room, then, succinctly, told them how Mrs. file:///C|/My Shared Folder/E-books/Dean Koontz/25 Writing Popular Fiction.html (82 of 108) [7/7/2004 2:15:17 PM]


Housel had been murdered, who the killer was, and why the crime had been committed.

Direct dialogue is preferable in every case except these: (1) when one character must tell another of an event the reader has already seen, as in the example above, (2) when one character must explain to another character something which the reader does not have to hear in detail ["Joe Black told Lord Randolph how to load and use the pistol if he should need it"], and (3) when a long section of direct dialogue could be made more rhythmic and interesting by the use of a few lines of indirect dialogue, as in this example:

He got to his feet a moment before Tilly entered the room, and he smiled at her, weakly. He was surprised he could smile at all.

"Are you all right?" she asked.

"What was that noise?"

"A shot." He had decided to hide nothing from her. She was shocked. "A shot?"

"Yes." He pointed to the broken glass and said, "It came through the window." "Are you hurt?"

"No, no," he said. "I dropped out of sight when I saw him standing there, just before he pulled the trigger."

"For heaven's sake, before who pulled the trigger?" she asked, her elfin face drawn up in a knot of tight lines.

"It was Richard," he said. "Why would he want to kill you?"

As quickly as he could, he told her why, told her everything he had learned last night.

She sat down in the nearest chair. "It's hard to believe!"

"I found it hard to believe too, at first."

"If he means to kill you, he means to kill me as well."

He agreed.

The lines "As quickly as he could..." and "He agreed" are examples of indirect dialogue mixed with direct, to give a more varied tone.

Finally, don't go searching for synonyms to replace the word "said." These simple variants will suffice in almost every case: shouted, called, replied, asked, insisted. If more force is required, stick to common words like these: cried, screamed, howled, wailed. Avoid, at all costs, melodramatic substitutes of this nature: ejaculated, belched, conjectured, shrilled.

The title is the first thing (besides the cover illustration, which is not in the author's province anyway) to attract a genre book buyer's attention. It should be dramatic, colorful, and intriguing; it should generate in the reader a desire to know what kind of story it describes. A title should promise one of or any combination of four things: exotic events (a foreign background, fantasy plot, or glamorous profession), suspenseful action (a chase, a race against time), a violent incident (death, injury, rape), or sex. A title should usually be as short as possible, and the promise of one of those four elements should be carried in one key word and possibly one or two modifying words. For example:

Exotic events: The Hong Kong Caper or The Boat to Singapore suggest a foreign background; The Gentle Unicorn, A Journey to Atlantis, or Ghost Story suggest a fantasy plot; Starlet, The Gossip Columnist, or even Airport suggest a glamorous profession.

Suspenseful action: The Running Man, Flight into Fear, or Smith's Escape suggest a chase; 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, The Desperate Hours, Last Chance, or The Ticking Clock suggest a race against time.

A violent incident: Deadly Edge, Anatomy of a Murder, One Body Too Many, or Killer's Choice suggest death; The Bleeding Man or Scars suggest injury; The Mishandled Girl or The Lady Killer suggest rape.

Sex: The Love Machine, The Ravishers, Nude with a Gun, or The Million-Dollar Babe all suggest sex.

New writers generally make one of seven mistakes when choosing a title for their novel. Here are those mistakes, in an easy-to-refer-to list:

Dull titles. Remember that a title must have some action word that promises one of those four quantities already discussed. Titles like The House, The Place by the Sea, or The Circus don't especially whet the book buyer's appetite.

Cliché Titles. Do not use old sayings, famous quotations, or punch lines from well-known jokes or proverbs as titles. They will be so familiar that the book buyer will only yawn at them. Titles such as Murder Will Out, Winner Takes All, Thou Shalt Not Kill, and The Tables Turn will gain you no readers.

On the other hand, if you take your title from a poem, proverb, or quotation which is unknown or known but still fresh, you might have something interesting, like: The Dead of Winter, The Clash of Distant Thunder, The Naked and the Dead, or Alas, Babylon. Also, if you choose a well-known phrase and give it a clever twist, the resultant title may well intrigue a potential reader, as would be the case with each of these titles: Do Your Christmas Killing Early, Murder is the Best Policy, and Slay ground (which twists a single common word).

General titles. Titles that are too general are similar to those that are too dull, with one important difference—even a colorful word will make a bad title if it is too general, offering no distinct promise. For example, Dragons, Warriors, The Sun, and Rat would be too general to make good titles, while Soft Come the Dragons, The Unborn Warriors, The Other Side of the Sun, and The Stainless Steel Rat are all successful science fiction titles.

Incomprehensible titles. No reader will be attracted to a book bearing a title like The Poisonous Colchicum or The Hyperborean Giant, while they could be intrigued by The Poisonous Herb or The Frozen Giant. Every word in a title should be understandable at a glance.

Misleading titles. You wouldn't call a Western, set in a great fir forest where the sky is seldom seen, something like The Starless Trail, which sounds as much like a science fiction story as like a Western. An excellent suspense novel by Stephen Geller may have suffered in sales by having a title that promised sex more than suspense—She Let Him Continue. Readers seeking erotic fiction probably skimmed it in the store, discovered it wasn't for them, and dropped it. Suspense readers not interested in erotica would never have picked it up. Even though the title fit the story quite well, it was a bad choice. The title must promise exactly what the book delivers.

Revealing titles. If there is any mystery whatsoever in your plot, don't choose a title that gives away the killer's identity or the fate of your hero. The Murderous Schoolmarm, if the killer indeed is the schoolmarm in the end, is a foolish title choice. My Brother's A Killer would be a bad title for a mystery in which the brother was, indeed, the murderer. You know enough not to use the technique of foreshadowing to spoil suspense for your reader, and you should be equally aware of the disastrous effect of a give-away title.

Arty titles. Your Huddled Masses Yearning to Be Free, The Meaning ofthe Archbishop's Death, The Implications of Troy's Kidnapping, Death Scares Me Not, and other similar antiquities will never appeal to the modern reader.

Many writers are proud of the number of drafts they do on a novel. You'll hear them say things like, "I did four complete manuscripts before I had it polished exactly as I wanted it." Indeed, the writer who won't settle for anything but the right word, who wants his prose to ring true and to read easily, is to be admired. But the writer who rewrites the same story again and again until he has it down pat is usually not so much a careful artist as he is a sloppy one. If he had trained himself to write as clean and sound a first draft as he could, he would not have needed to go over all that material again and again.

When I sit down to begin a new novel, I type directly onto heavy bond paper, with carbon paper and second sheet attached. If a paragraph is not going well, I rip that set of papers out of the typewriter and begin the page again, but I never go on until that page is finalized and cleanly typed in finished copy.

I waste a lot of paper.

But I save a lot of time.

The danger of planning to do several drafts lies in the subconscious or unconscious attitude that, If I don't get it right this time, it's okay; I can work it out in a later draft. This encourages carelessness in your original word choices, phrasing, and plotting. The more things you write with this approach in mind, the sloppier you become until, finally, your first draft is so poorly done that no number of re-workings will make it click.

No financially successful, critically acclaimed writer I know has let himself get caught in the "fix it in a later draft" trap. Without fail, however, the hopeless amateur clings to this fallacious theory like a drowning man to the only rock in the lake.

Disregarding this tendency for the multiple-draft writer to get careless with his work, there are other reasons why you should learn to write good first drafts and eliminate revision wherever feasible. First of all, your emotional involvement with the work can be the intangible quality that makes it exciting and marketable. If you must rework the story several times, you will lose that sense of excitement and, more often than not, create a finished piece that reflects your own ultimate boredom. Unless you have a firm grip on the structure of your story, you may begin to change things, in a rewrite, that do not need to be changed at all; reworking a story, you may begin to doubt all of it and alter it without logical reason. And, of course, a great deal of revision takes time from your new work.

One familiar piece of advice given new writers is: "Put it aside for a couple of days or weeks and re-read it when you've cooled off." At all costs, ignore this advice. It is true that, in the clinical mood that sometimes follows the completion of a work, you can see prose faults and correct them. More often, however, you are only giving yourself time to start doubting the story. Often, when you approach it again, you're too critical, because you've lost the mood that generated it. When you've finished a piece, send it out straightaway and get to work on something new. You're a professional. You have all the confidence in the world.

Reams have been written about the transition, and most all of that has only tended to confuse new writers to no good end. The transition is easily written; any mistakes you may be making with it can be easily corrected.

The transition is the change from one scene to another in a dramatic narrative, moving your characters from one place to another or from one time to another. By stepping in on the end of this scene and the beginning of the next, we can see a poorly done transition:

"Are you going to just sit there like a stone?" Lou asked her, looming over her where she sat in the big easy chair.

She didn't answer him. She looked straight ahead, her eyes on the wall behind him, her lip trembling but her determination otherwise unbetrayed.

"I don't have to take this, and I'm not going to," he said, turning away from her. "I can always find someone else—someone who will talk to me."

Still, she sat, silent.

"Damn you," he snapped, crossing the small room, slamming the big oaken door behind him.

He went down the steps and out into the clear spring morning, walked two blocks down Elm Avenue to the bus stop, where he caught the 9:45 for town. He rode there without incident, brooding over the scene with Rita, got off at Market Street and went to his favorite bar on the square.

Max, the bartender, wasn't as moody as Rita had been. He was willing to talk. In fact, he had some interesting news. "Selma's been in here the last couple of days, Lou. She's been asking around about you."

The longest paragraph in the example is essentially all transition, getting Lou from one place to another. It stalls the story, because it adds nothing, and it should be pared down to the minimum. It should have been handled this way:

Still, she sat, silent.

"Damn you," he snapped, crossing the small room, slamming the big oaken door behind him.

Thirty minutes later, he was in his favorite bar on the square downtown. Max, the bartender, wasn't as moody as Rita had been. He was willing to talk...

As soon as one scene is over, you should lead your reader into the next, with no excess prose between them. The details of how the character got from here to there do absolutely nothing for the story except retard it.

One popular way of changing scenes is with the space break, a blank space on the page between the blocks of print, which indicates when one scene has ended and another begun in a different place or time from the first. To make the best use of this the writer may want to end the first scene with a lead-in for the opening of the second. For example:

Koontz,Dean_-_Writing_Popolur_Fiction(1.0) Still, she sat, silent.

"Damn you," he snapped, crossing the small room to the big, oaken door. "I'm going down to the bar. If you won't speak to me, at least Max will!" He left, slamming the door behind.

Max put the beer down before him and, in that match-making tone of voice some bartenders culture, he said, "I've got some new for you. Selma has been in the last couple of days..."

Another transition of the same sort might run like this:

The voice on the phone said, "Have the ransom money at the museum by midnight tonight. Otherwise, your wife is dead."

Mike swallowed hard, wiped at his mouth and said, "I'll be there, midnight on the dot."

The museum was dark and deserted when he rounded the corner and walked towards the stone lions that flanked the steps.

As you can see, writing good scene transitions is really a simple matter; as I said, when discussing style, brevity is the best course.

The most successful writer, as I've said before, is the one who can sit down at his typewriter every working day and produce a certain number of words or finished pages, regardless of what he might prefer to do instead. If you can write ten pages a day, five days a week, you can complete ten solid novels in a year. I've done it; I've done even more than that, in fact. And I know of one man who, working for a literary agency during the day, commuted to the suburbs each evening and sat down and wrote ten pages, no matter what, on top of his regular job and commuter's blues!

However, many writers find that each day, in this sort of schedule, can begin with a small writer's block, a two- or three-hour thing, before the mind is nimble enough to create. There's a cure for the mini-block. When you sit down to start, each day, begin by retyping the last page or two that you finished the day before. Not rewriting, mind, just retyping. This little trick will put you back into the mood you were in when you were working steadily the day before, and it can eliminate that mini-block for almost anyone.

It also helps to keep your work area clean, uncluttered, and your resource notes or material easily at hand. I have read countless articles about how good it is to work at a cluttered desk, how the jumble of books and papers can give you a feeling of excitement and fertility. Bull. A writer is a professional, and he needs that sense of order that is so evident in other professions like medicine, law, and education. I think it's interesting that I've never read the cluttered-desk theory proposed by any truly successful author, and I know that you will find it easier to start each day if you're working in a pleasant, businesslike area.

Occasionally, of course, there are days when nothing works, when the clean work area and the retyping of yesterday's last page, and the brisk walk around the block do nothing to get the juices flowing. When this happens, it is best to take the day off, and perhaps the next day as well—if you keep in mind that the lost wordage will have to be made up in the days following your short vacation.

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