Amateur Hour: Or why I know my writing won’t suck.

(Other than the fact that Beta Reader feedback has been fantastic!)

I  use Scribophile, which is a great resource for writers. It’s a place where you can upload your work in process, and read/critique others writing. It also has a pretty active web forum.

And while I don’t post a lot on the forum, I’ve posted enough opinionated stuff to realize that I seem to grasp the concept of writing and success better than most. My egotistical view point has been enforced by other’s reactions and compliments.

So, for the sake of future posterity, I decided to compile my amateur hour writer insights that I’ve posted to the corresponding Thread Topics. (I edited my original responses slightly for a little more clarification.)


“How do You Approach Diversity in Writing?” –

My Response:



How many LGBTQ Orc’s were included in Lord of the Rings? How many disabled elves? How many different colors of humans were there? How many feminist Hobbits? How many low-income Dwarves?  How many pansexual Great Eagles? How many Islamic/Hindu/Buddhist Wizards were running around casting Magic Missile?

(Okay, there was that one orc bad guy in the Hobbit trilogy with the stick hand.)

But I write to entertain.

If I want a black quasi-villain, I’ll include one. (I did.) If I want a transgendered school teacher, I’ll include one. (I didn’t.) If  I want my Main Character to be a toxic-masculinity filled, cis-gendered badass, I’ll make him so. (I did.)

Personally, I will not step out of bounds to grab some sort of shoe-box cookie-cutter ‘diversity’ character to appease some whiny group of potential readers.

If you want too, by all means – go for it. But you gotta make it work. Readers will realize if you are throwing pointless characteristics into your writing to put a check in a stupid box on a stupid list.



“When People Find Out You Are a Writer.” – (This was irritating. The starter of the thread was whining about peoples reactions to finding out they were a writer.)

Original Post:

I’d like to think that I’m not the only one who deal with this:

You’re just having a regular chat (whether it be on social media or even in the break room at work), and the conversation moves towards something like “What are you up to?” or “What’s that you’re writing?” (if you carry a notebook), and you explain to the person that you’re working on a story/novel.

*GASP* “”You’re a writer? I’d love to read your book!”

“Well, it’s not finished. It’s not like I’m published or anything. Like, I’ve only got a few chapters, right now, and–”

“You’ve gotta finish it so I can read it!”

These are real conversations that I have with people, fairly often, and personally, as much as it is flattering that someone wants to appreciate my work, I also don’t like these conversations. I didn’t offer to let you read my work, I told you that it’s not done, and trying to push me to finish it actually makes me not want to do it. Pushing turns something enjoyable into a chore.

Here’s a conversation that I had last night with someone that I’ve literally never even met, after mentioning that I was working on my Mech story, Code Name: GLITCH

“Ohhhh damn I wanna read it”

“I only have three chapters of the first book done so far.”

“well is there any close to being done”

“Lifeblood I technically finished, but I decided to revise it. So, not really. The closest to being actually done is Occultus Draconem which only has about 14 chapters right now. The original draft of Lifeblood is about 36 chapters, I think.”

“Damn finish it woman”

“I’ll finish it when I finish it. I’m not even working on those stories right now.”

“Damn I want a complete book. I want some new reading material.”

Am I in the wrong for being annoyed by this? I’m not annoyed that someone wants to read my writing, I’m annoyed by the pushing (also, by calling me “woman,” but that’s another story).

Also, in response to his desire for “a complete book” and “new reading material,” I sent him a photo of the storefront of Barnes and Noble.

He called me a jerk.


My response: (Keep in mind that this was after multiple pages of people whining about the same thing.)


I’m seeing a re-occurring theme through this thread.

Being an ungrateful dick to someone genuinely interested in your work-in-process is about as stupid as sticking your actual genitals in an electrical outlet.

That’s called being an ass. And it won’t help you become a published/paid/successful/REAL author.

I recommend showing some humility and gratefulness.

For the record, I don’t have much humility. But that’s because I have charm, wit, and sheer-willpower.


(Of course, after stating something so obvious, I got pulled further into the conversation. As an aside, at one point, the Original Poster mentioned that they had one ‘finished’ book they would offer people for $21. And of course, folks would pass… as they should. Because CAPITALISM!)

My second response:



I really DON’T want to get sucked into this – but here I go again..

Look. If someone wants to read your finished and unpublished work, you should let them. And you sure as hell shouldn’t charge them. $21 for an unpublished story? Really?!?

Forget that.

Send them a word file or print it out on your home computer to pass around.

Since you are unpublished, and thus un-established, its ridiculous to turn away potential readers. You are destroying word-of-mouth possibilities while you screw around with another story and waiting/hoping for your big break from some publishing house who will do all the advertising and promotional work for you to make you a success.

Screw that.

Promote yourself. Be honest with them. Tell people you are trying to get published and in the meantime you’d love for them to read your work, AND ASK FOR FEEDBACK. Make them feel like part of the process. That invests them in your work and you.

Someone on here said everyone wants to know a famous author. The next best thing is to be INVOLVED with a story(in case you become famous). People involved are more likely to tell their friends about you which will lead to more sales when it IS published.

Interaction with your fan base is priceless.

(Certainly worth way more than the occasional $21 you McScrooge off of them.)

So stop screwing it up by treating them as though they are an obnoxious burden upon your intellect and ‘art’.

You have to remember, to the average person out there, unpublished means ‘incomplete/unproven/unedited/unfinished/whatever’. Of course no one wants to pay money for a ‘rough cut’.

And all of this only applies if your writing is good and in a genre they like.

If your writing is garbage – Then it will be a good thing you are passing it around for free to get feedback. Hopefully someone will be brutally honest with you and tell you what sucks.

Also, in response to his desire for “a complete book” and “new reading material,” I sent him a photo of the storefront of Barnes and Noble.

He called me a jerk.

That’s because you’re being one.

Seriously. If you don’t have anything finished, then suggest something you like or something that is similar to your writing style. Stay engaged. Keep them up to date. Whatever.

But judging by your posts, you are on your way to having more people out there who WON’T read your work than WILL. All because of the way you miserably interact with them.

Anyways. You should all stop being asses. Or you’ll find the road to success much more difficult than need be.


And then the Original Poster replied with how she doesn’t want to be published, how she doesn’t want to sell books, how she doesn’t want to write for others, just for herself. And I was being rude… -eye roll-

So, contradictions aside, they are wasting thousands of hours writing, then whining when people want to read it, then whining they won’t pay an exorbitant price for their unfinished work. At one point I tried telling them the basics of business, because the $21 he wanted for his work was for a printed hardback. HARDBACK! The most expensive sort of printed books out there. Print bulk, print cheap, print quality. Balance those for success. That means mass published paperbacks, or e-books, which cost pretty much nothing. But printing the occasional single hardback book… is ridiculous and expensive.


“How Do Authors Hook Readers?”

My Response:

My ultimate goal is for the My Name to be the reader hook.

Kind of like how people buy Stephen King’s stuff because of his name. Personally I think he sucks. Yup, I said it. A common theme of his is writing 4/5ths of a book, gets bored/lazy/whatever, and oh-look! IT WAS ALIENS THE ENTIRE TIME! Maybe it was the mountains of cocaine he snorted that destroyed his ability to finish a book, I dunno. But stay away from drugs kiddos, or you’ll turn out super weird like this guy.



“Overcoming The Resistance To Writing” –

My Response:

A really good book I recommend is called ‘Do The Work’ by Stephen Pressfield.

It’s all about overcoming resistance to achieve your goals. The biggest force of resistance being yourself and your insecurities. And he wrote the ‘Gates of Fire’ about the Spartans and the Battle of Thermopylae, which is one of the finest books I’ve ever read. I’ve read it at least six times now. I have to keep buying new copies because everyone borrows mine and doesn’t give them back.

But ultimately:

If you want writing to become your job, you’ve got to treat it like a job. Butt in seat, fingers on keyboard, brain as engaged as possible. If you can’t force yourself to do that, even when you don’t want to, you’ll never make it.

Be disciplined.

I work out. Every morning I am at the gym by 5:30am to pick heavy things up and put them back down over and over and over. That’s discipline. I don’t know how many people I’ve seen come in once in a while, or in spurts of a week, month, year, then fade away and lose their gains because they can’t keep it up. The typical “Join In January, Quit in February’ people.

There’s a reason I can bench 325 and they are struggling to get a baby bump for a bicep.

It’s also why I’ve had friends run a cycle of steroids, fluff up with quick-gained muscle, then go back to being a scrawny wimp two months later when their testosterone burns out and they lose motivation.

Because there are no short cuts to success. You have to keep pounding away at it. Relentlessly. You have to make hard choices now so you can enjoy the results later.

Same thing as writing. It takes relentless focus and determination and discipline.

Life is full of resistance. You have to fight against it, or it will drown you.

If you don’t have the time to write, do something. Anything. But WORK. Research, develop your characters, build your world, skip a boring chapter and go to something that excites you. I recommend action-shooting-pew-pew scenes, because those are fun for me.

But accomplish something.

If you can’t inch towards the finish line every chance you get, you will never cross it.

Beat that keyboard like it owes you money.



“Is it Sexist to Only Have One Female Character?”

My Response:


But someone will take offense. Someone ALWAYS takes offense.

If you  published a blank book, someone would be offended that you used white paper.



Action Scenes. – “How do you handle action scenes? How do you keep things moving while keeping it from being too confusing?”

My Response:

Remember that reading action is not the same as watching action in a movie.

When you read something implausible, your brain stops and thinks about it. You pause the ride. This is the WORST thing that can happen for both writers and readers.

“Wait a minute, that guy couldn’t do that because he’s laying on his back and it’s an impossible angle and he’s wounded and the bad guy has a Hello Kitty baseball bat with nails sticking out of it and…”

When you are watching a movie and something ridiculous or impossible happens, you don’t think about it because the ride continues and you are immediately distracted by the next shiny thing.

“Wait a minute, that guy just – HOLY CRAP! BIG EXPLOSION! NOOO!!! AHHHH! YEH BOY! GET SOME!”



Wrapping this up – This is just some ramblings of an amateur wanna-be author, whose writing doesn’t suck and intends to be successful.


EDIT – I found this in the unpublished draft bin of my blog. I wrote it a year ago. Not sure why it I never published. But meh, here ya go.

Author: Erik 'Tracer' Testerman

Erik Testerman is a Marine Corps grunt, a competitive shooter, and an admirer of fine arms and armaments. He lives in the mountains of North Carolina with his lovely wife, two rambunctious children, and a slobbery English Mastiff. To learn more about Erik Testerman and read samples of his work, visit

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