Writing Wednesday: Retooling and Rethinking

Last week’s goals:

Three blog posts made, and posted at least three comments on others’ blogs.

Stories rotating in and out of market as they and the markets are available.

I produced 1,731 words of fiction – not as many words as last week, but pleased with myself for increasing the number of days I wrote to five days; if I get back to writing daily the words will come. “Cat’s Paw” is over 7,500 words, and I made a small start on a new story (working title “Unseen.”)


“Cat’s Paw” has crossed into novelette territory, and that’s where it will stay. I’m getting to the spot where I want this one to end, but I started the story somewhere in the middle of where it should have (there is writing advice that you should start your story in the middle of the action, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.) There’s an understanding of the situation Herc Tom is in that needs to be clarified before he has to deal with it. I figure it will take me another four-or-so-thousand words before I’m done.


In problem solving, there’s a technique called the Five Whys. It’s an iterative technique (not quite the same one that your kids might employ when you tell them that they can’t do something and they keep asking) that’s used to get to the root cause of a problem, rather than just dealing with the problem’s symptoms. For example:

Tommy won’t eat. You know this isn’t good for him, and you could choose to find a way to force him to eat, but a feeding tube may not be the best solution. So, you try the Five Whys:

  1. Why won’t Tommy eat? – he isn’t hungry
  2. Why isn’t Tommy hungry? – the food doesn’t taste good
  3. Why doesn’t the food taste good? – it’s contaminated with antifreeze
  4. Why is it contaminated with antifreeze? – the cook poured it in there
  5. Why did the cook pour it in there? – the cook is afraid if Tommy continues to refuse to eat, he will lose his job

This is not a good example of solving a problem, just an example of applying the Five Whys to get to the root cause (although I am curious what course of action each of you might take to solve this – feel free to comment below…)

I’ve been thinking about my problem with being hesitant to “waste” words on details in my stories, and so I don’t even think to broaden my descriptions. It occurred to me that I might be able to force myself to be more expansive if I were to adapt this technique into a Five Whats™ method.

Tommy ran into the street, a car chasing him.

  1. What car? – a corvette
  2. What corvette? the red one
  3. What…

This isn’t working the way I thought it might. I keep wanting to say Which or Who, or even Why. The point I’m trying to get to is that I have to make myself think beyond the shortest detail (car) and embellish (the red corvette convertible that his father never liked anyone to even touch; Tommy better not dent it if it hit him.) Maybe the Five Whats isn’t such a good method, so I’ll lose the trademark for now. It should be enough to question myself with some not-whys (what, where, which) to bring out more description. Embellishment is hard for me, but it’s something that’s expected, so something I should focus on this year.

Just saying…


Swordsmaster – my first novel – is ready for reading.Swordsmaster4

Fate is neither something to run away from, nor something to run towards.

The first bright-eye to be seen on the mountain in living memory, Sandrik didn’t want anyone to think of him as they did the ominous Aurae of legend, so he had worked hard to keep his special abilities hidden. But there was more to Sandrik than even he knew. Now that it was time for him to enter the ancient ruins of Taernfeld and be declared a man, what other changes might he be forced into?

Swordsmaster is available at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/954501

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WNK79FM

(there is also a paperback on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1691904910 )


CatsOfWar_IIa_CoverWilliam Mangieri’s writing (including Cats of War II, his latest collection of Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire tales) can be found in many places, including, but not limited to:
• Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri

• His site on WordPress:  https://williammangieri.wordpress.com
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/NoTimeToThink
• His Goodreads author page:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893616.William_Mangieri
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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