AMA: Ask Me Anything (Here At The Blog)

Reddit AMAs are a lot of fun — you guys pile on the questions, and I answer those questions. And I thought, well, hey, fuck it, let’s do one here.

Here’s how this’ll work:

You go to the comment section, and you pop in your question.

Then, tomorrow morning, I’ll start answering them.

If some questions are too damn weighty to answer in a comment, I might note that I’m setting it aside to answer in a longer form blog post later.

But you can ask me anything you want.

I will endeavor to answer where polite and where possible.

Oh, and a couple quick updates —

First, I apparently have a Wikipedia entry, finally. I AM A REAL BOY.

Then, hey, Star Wars: Aftermath dropped in paperback yesterday. And the Kindle price dropped. So feel free to ignite your lightsaber and carve off a slice.

Finally! If you’re in the PA/OH/WV area, I’ll be at Seton Hill on 4/12 for AN EVENING WITH CHUCK WENDIG, which sounds like we’re going on a date together. Maybe we are. Bring flowers. I like flowers. And by flowers, I mean whiskey. I’ll be talking about stuff and signing books and possible dancing around in a negligee or something, I dunno. The event organizers were a little hazy on that point.


Go forth and AMA, folks.


  • What’s the etiquette upon finding a very minor typo in a great book written by an author you admire . Tell the author, or not?

    • Not worth it. Most of the time, nothing can be done about it, and it just makes the author feel bad.

      If it’s something serious, I guess you could mention it — and it might get fixed in subsequent printings or in the e-book.

      • Just thought I would add to this. I emailed a writer whose book I had enjoyed. This writer was self-published, and I mentioned how well-edited I thought the book was. She encouraged me to let her know if I saw any mistakes. I had seen something, and I emailed her back. Long story short, I was asked to beta read for her next novel and get it for free! Kinda cool getting mentioned in acknowledgements! It was fun for me, and it hopefully helped her. You never know. Trad publishing may be different though.

    • I found an error in one of Anne Rice’s books, The Violin, where she said the German director Werner Herzog was dead, which he still isn’t. I emailed her asking why she’d written that – if it was for some effect, when it was pretty obvious the guy was still making movies. She graciously replied and said she’d heard it somewhere and that the line editor should have caught the mistake.

  • Thanks for this. You may live to regret it.
    Man, the pressure to think of a good question is too much. My head might explode into little, sticky, brainy-bits.

    Okay, here’s one. How in the blue fuck did you get into freelance writing game stuff? That sounds like the coolest kind of freelancing ever. There’s probably a hooded society, with a secret handshake, and a requirement to murder some minor deity to prove your mightiness, before you’re even allowed to submit a writing sample.

    But seriously, where are all those gigs hiding?

    Thanks again!

    • The company, White Wolf, went on the internet and announced they were hiring and wanted 1000 words on the subject of monster hunting, so I wrote a pretentious essay about the internal and external loci of fear and that got me the work. Then I kept getting work because other writers either failed to complete their tasks or turned in sub par work.

  • How would you rewrite this sentence without using five freakin’ pronouns?

    Charlie released her, grabbed her hand and nearly jerked her off her feet as he towed her into the bedroom.

    I’ll take anyone’s answer.

  • I changed my novel from first to third person because I wanted to be able to show my readers what a couple of other characters, aside from the protagonist, are up to. I felt it would enrich the story. I like being able to include more about these other characters–but I like my main protagonist more from a first person point of view. How do you know which works best, overall?

    • And you can always have more than one first person perspective, I do! Just because you don’t see a lot of books like that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for them

        • As a reader, I’d prefer to see it by chapter, rather than multiple 1st persons mixed into one chapter, if that’s what you’re asking. I’ve read books where the chapter title was simply the name of the POV character, so we knew who’s head we were in.

          • If anyone wants to see who this works, i recommend to look no further than Kevin J Anderson’s Saga of Seven Sun’s. Every chapter from someone elses POV brilliant

    • I’ve read several books where the main character was in first person, and then other secondary characters had POV chapters written in third person. It all depends on what you want, though I would recommend choosing one and sticking with it for each character (don’t have a chapter with Betsy’s POV told via first-person, and then the next chapter switch her to third). If you go that way, you’ll want to think about whether or not to make all of it present tense, past tense, or also switch that. It’ll do different things, I reckon.

      Good luck!

      • Outlander series, by Diana Gabaldon is a good example of this. The first book was all in 1st person. Subsequent books switched POV between the main character’s (1st) and all the others she wanted to highlight (3rd, limited). It works, she does it well most of the time.

      • The Bartimaeus Trilogy did this as well. Everything from the titular characters point of view was first person and the rest was third

  • i have finished writing a book, half finished a second one and have outlined a few others. the first book i was not sure on, but continued anyway. recently i had an assessment of my first book and although i know everyone has their opinion it confirmed what i already knew. the book is good, the writing is good, but there is nothing that sets it apart and makes it have a wow factor. i know that the other books i am working on are better but i am at a loss about what i to do next? shelve it and keep working on the others, or keep working on it? and how the fuck do i pick myself up after a not so great assessment?

  • How do you know when to quit editing and just submit the damn thing?
    I’m always second guessing myself, searching for perfection rather than facing rejection.

  • Using old school AD&D standards, what’s your alignment? Do your wife, editor, and close friends agree with you about it? If not, what do they say?

  • March 30, 2016 at 4:33 PM // Reply

    1) How do u even begin to edit a first draft?
    2) When u have like, a million different ideas for possible outcomes for ur story how do u decide which one to use?
    3) Have u ever used role play to write a story? (writing back and forth, I promise it’s not sexual though i thought it was when I first heard of it)
    4) Do u think its annoying how U.S teen fiction always centers on white straight characters and seems to lack minority representation?

    • 1) with great gusto and self-hatred

      2) you just pick the one that feels right or that speaks to the themes of the book or that makes the most logical and emotional sense

      3) not really

      4) I dunno if “annoying” is the word I’d use, but it’s certainly limiting and that limitation is harmful

  • March 30, 2016 at 4:43 PM // Reply

    Is there anything that you’ve have created, written, co-created, or worked on that you would like to see become a movie or tv show, and that would work as a movie or tv show?

  • I thought about blowing it on a nonsensical question like ‘why do all clowns look like scary motherfuckers no matter how happy their faces are drawn?’, but predictably I’m asking a writing related question:

    If you want to use something in your writing that you have a topical, but not really in depth understanding of – like you might have read an article about tropical toadfishing at some point – how do you prefer to incorporate it… do you research it extensively in advance to make sure it works the way you need it to for the plot, do you make a note saying ‘research that later’ to keep up the flow or do you bullshit your way around it until it feels right and hope nobody is nerdy enough to fact-check you on the particulars of tropical toadfishing?

    I realize that’s about half a dozen questions, but I hope you’ll still let me know, I’m interested. 🙂

    • THIS IS MY SPECIALTY because I am a dumb person often writing about smart things.

      Mostly, you just research a whole lot. Meet people when you can. Get hands-on if possible.

      I try to do research up front but eventually you hit points in the book that you need to know stuff you didn’t know you needed to know, so you either make it up or go talk to people or the Internet.



      — c.

  • Dear God,
    How do you write what you like then let it out into the world without freaking out your friends and family? Your writing can be pretty confrontational at times, and I love that,but it must take big cahones to let it out of the cage.

      • Thanks so much for your time, Chuck. I’ve just finished reading all your replies and I have to say, I admire your stamina! It means a lot to all of us lowly fans to have you share bits of yourself with us. (Mmm…toes…)

  • Two questions:
    1. Do you ever read Flash Fiction submissions?
    2. What advice do you have for young writers (I’m 17) just trying to improve their craft?

    • 1. As in, the ones here at the site? Not as much as I used to. Time doesn’t allow for it.

      2. You’re young, so mostly it’s a case of, keep writing. Finish your shit. Don’t stop. Write a bunch of fun, bad stuff and eventually you’ll learn to have fun writing good stuff.

      • Thanks Chuck, and thanks for running such a great blog. It’s been fantastic for me to get some of that early crap posted and get good feedback on it.

    • I’ll chime in on #2 as I started writing when I was about your age.

      They say everyone has a million words of crap in them before they get better. I don’t know if that’s true, but if it is true, it behooves you to write it as soon as possible. And if it’s not true, then it still is best to write a million words as soon as possible. My writing instructors told me that no writing is wasted.

      So, my suggestion? Write, a lot. And it doesn’t have to be stories or novels! One of the best decisions I made was roleplaying (D&D and White Wolf games) online with different people. It consistently motivated me to write at least several paragraphs to pages a day because other people were waiting on me. And it’s easy to experiment with characters and writing practice when the risk is so low. Also, chat with people online and actually write out your sentences. Notice how other people speak and write.

      When in doubt: write, write, write, write, write. And don’t be afraid to practice.

      • Thanks for the advice! I try to do a lot of those things. I am usually the GM when my friends and I play D&D, and I try to write everyday.
        Hopefully I already have some of my million words out of the way, as I wrote 30k words of an epic fantasy novel in sixth grade. Needless to say, it was far from good.

    • Carl Zimmer’s PARASITE REX.

      Toni Morrison’s BELOVED.

      Bradley Denton’s BLACKBURN.

      Though really they’re all genre in their own way, because all books are genre books.

  • March 30, 2016 at 7:19 PM // Reply

    1. What is your favorite O.J Simpson movie? (Mine’s CAPRICORN ONE (1977)
    2. What’s it like being Cosmo’s first ever bearded cover girl?
    3. Stephen King. Fan or non-fan?

      • March 31, 2016 at 7:55 PM // Reply

        Close to a hundred emails overnight in the inbox and they’re all from the same person? If they were from anyone else it would be a job for Captain Complete Delete. From Chuck it’s pure entertainment.

        THE NAKED GUN (1988) is most assuredly a seasoned choice. Apart from the humor to recommend it, this film must surely have had one of the all time most eclectic ensemble casts ever put together on the big screen. To name a few – Leslie Nielsen, Priscilla Presley, O.J, George Kennedy (one of my favorite actors of the 1970’s), Weird Al Yankovic, Ricardo ‘Fantasy Island’ Montalban, 7ft tall (213cm) ‘Tiny’ Ron Taylor, Queen Elizabeth 2 impersonator extraordinaire Jeannette Charles, Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, legendary Hollywood tough guy on the screen and off it Lawrence Tierney (he played the title role in the 1945 movie DILLINGER), Kurt Gowdy – former NBC sports announcer and long-time ‘voice’ of the Boston Red Sox, David Loyyd Austin – Mikayl Gorbachev impersonator who also did the same act in ROCKY 4, Nickolas Worth (voice of The Reaper in THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2 -1984), Joyce Brothers – TV psychologist in the pre-Dr Phil days, and so many, many more taken equally from the world of film stars and the world outside of that world.

  • This is a totally boring question, but it’s one I want the answer to, so…

    My structure skills suck donkey butt. Does one of your writing books cover structure more than the others? And to spice this question up, do you have beat sheets you like?

    • No book handles it more than another, really, though I will have a NEW BOOK coming out in the next year or so that will talk more about that. No beat sheets in particular.

  • Simple question, hopefully a complex answer.

    How would a young author like me go about making an income off writing while in college without selling what is left of my tiny red-head soul to freelance contracts for peanuts? What kinds of jobs are there for authors of both fiction and non-fiction? Not to mention, are there actually good freelance jobs? They seem to be scarce…

    To be clear, I am not looking for easy money. I’m willing to work, and work hard. I’ve already got my first book published, and I am working on a sequel, but it’s not going to pay my tuition yet. So any advice would be appreciated in helping me, you know, not starve…

  • Would you like to find out if I am correct in thinking that if you read my novel Preacher Thief you will be highly entertained and impressed enough to pass it along to an agent for their consideration?

  • These are some awesome questions so far. Look forward to checking out the answers. I suppose my question is if you’d ever write/design anything for White Wolf again?

  • how does one get an invite to write a 5 things I learnt writing xy and z post on your blog?
    I’ve learnt lots of shit over the years but how to play the marketing game is still a fucking mystery…

    • One does not get invited. One writes a book and then emails me and says, I have a book coming out, and it’s a real book and it has a real publisher and can I do the FIVE THINGS thing, and I say maybe, sure, here’s a date, send me something before that.

  • Thanks from the UK for doing this – your posts make me snork with laughter and learn at the same time.
    Not a writing related question ( though I do name items on my B&B menu after writers)
    What’s your favourite breakfast – and how do you cook it?

    • I cook two eggs.

      I flip those two eggs while the yolks are still trapped and gooey.

      Then I break the yolks and spread the yolks around the top of the still-cooking eggs. Then I sprinkle salt and pepper, turn off the skillet, let the top yolk congeal — still wet, still bright yellow, but it starts to settle.

      Then I eat it.

  • What’s the toughest plot snarl/story tangle you’ve ever gotten yourself into, and how did you get back out?

    (Your blog is one of my favorite things to read over coffee, and I’m continually kicking myself for not having had the chance to hear you speak at Crossroads that one year. I hope you’ll make it back to DragonCon, at least. Much thanks, sir.)

  • When writing anything, there’s bound to be other things that inspire the work, whether consciously or subconsciously. But how close is one able to skirt that line between doing something new with a classic idea without feeling like a complete hack?

  • March 31, 2016 at 5:26 PM // Reply

    I love writing fan-fiction but it’s super addictive. Would you advise writing that if you’re a teenage beginning writer or just skip it so you can focus on your own stuff?

  • How awesome is your wife and does she read your rough drafts or does she wait until the words are loose in the open?

  • March 31, 2016 at 9:00 PM // Reply

    What is/are your strategy for working on more than one writing project? Thanks for your blog, I read it aloud to my friends when I get the chance. 🙂

  • Stupidly specific story question, but whatever.

    Is “Invasive”‘s Hannah Stander the same as “Zer0es”‘s Lucy Brockaway but all grown up?

    Just finished meticulously rereading “Zer0es” and noticed the similar backstory after reading about “Invasive”.

    Oh, and heads up: while you’re now officially on Wikipedia, “Zer0es” is now officially on TVTropes, courtesy of yours truly (hence the meticulous rereading).

    And for those who don’t know, Miriam’s been there for a while now, too.

  • I’m having the hardest time maintaining the same voice/POV. I’m discouraged and my delete button needs to be replaced. Do you have any pearls of wisdom about how to choose and stay in the voice? Thanks a million. Nina

  • Okay, so I’d just like to ask these two questions:
    1.) Is it okay to base characters off of people around you, such as friends or enemies? And how do I get away with it without them realizing that it’s actually, well, them?
    2.) How can I create a female character that is rather weak and timid without it annoying my readers? I’m aware many do not like such characters, so what should I do in order to pull it off?

    Thanks, I hope this wasn’t a bother.

  • Hi Chuck. Looks like I’m late to this party, but on the off chance you answer a few more questions I thought I’d put to you something I’ve been meaning to ask for a while.

    I noticed your self-pub work has “terribleminds” listed as the publisher. Did you register or incorporate “terribleminds” somewhere or did you just type it in the field and let it fly?

    I’m asking because I am considering changing my own books to have a publisher name that isn’t my own so people aren’t immediately scared off when they see they’re self-pubbed. Wondering if there is any additional work besides just changing the name on the Amazon page.


  • I realize I’m late to the party…..I loved your recent post about tiny houses so now I part time stalk you. It’s cool I’m not totally committed to it. Here’s my dumb ass question: Do you think bloggers need a niche in order to grow a large audience? I’ll take my question off the air (nerd NPR reference for those who don’t indulge).

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