Pathology of the Writer: Constipation

Balance concept



Writer’s attempt to do the impossible. Delicately perform a balancing act in order to craft a compelling story. We must be acrobats, ninjas, engineers, artists, gourmet chefs and one heck of a seamstress! It’s almost like peeling an onion though. You write and study relentlessly, trying to hone your craft only to find out there’s yet another layer. By then your’re already crying and can’t see straight; blinded by the daunting task of impossibilities. As if someone demanded you rebuild the empire state building one brick at a time…by yourself. Here are some of the toppings that we have to juggle on a daily basis.

  • Characters- protagonists, antagonists, sidekicks, mentors, lovers with all of their complexities and desires.
  • Dialogue- interior monologue, subtext, body language, intonation
  • Settings-  fantasy, historical, urban, cyberpunk 
  • Conflict and Tension- internal, external, story conflict
  • Scenes- structure, actions and reactions
  • Character arc-flat arc, positive arc, negative arc
  • Theme- thematic question
  • Story structure- plot points, actions and reactions
  • Narration and POV
  • Voice and Style

Sounds pretty complicated? Yep. But the more I realize about the writing process on the one hand, the simpler it gets. In fact, you could sum it all up in one measly two syllable word. Which word is it? *drumroll* You guessed it, balance.  I think a well crafted story is ABSOLUTELY, a work of art as it is of balance. I have a health background in physical therapy so I tend to see things through medical lenses.

The Balance Life arrow with beach background


Physically speaking there are twelve different interdependent organ systems throughout our body; a trillion cells, working harmoniously to do just ONE THING. Keep us alive? Yes. But more specifically to maintain something called homeostasis. Every organ system although different in function, works towards the same goal. Homeostasis. So what is this homeostasis anyway?  It’s our body’s way of maintaining a dynamic state of equilibrium or balance, in the midst of a changing external environment. When things get out of hand, and trust me they will, bad things will happen. Like, illnesses, sickness, etc these are what we call pathologies in the medical field. Diseases that limit functional ability, progressively deteriorate our brains, and ultimately may lead to death. Exciting eh? Well, writers also have “pathologies” that affect the balance of their writing. Which in turn could make or brake their stories, or even worse, their careers. So I decided to concoct a series dedicated to these type of writing problems, as I experience my own pathology and get rehabilitated by other writers.


Since I’ve been studying the craft of writing I’ve heard about the infamous information dump. They’re essentially four kinds of information dumps according to bestselling author and Jedi master KM Weiland over at

  • The Worldbuilding dump
  • The Backstory dump
  • The Technical dump
  • The Emotional dump

As we’re writing sometimes we tend to go overboard; with our prose, splendid descriptions, or the sheer beauty of our own words but these could be completely unnecessary to the plot or overall story.  It’s just….information just for the sake of informing. But aren’t we supposed to describe things? Show not tell? Deliberately hook our readers into the endless pages of distant realms of fantasy and romance? Yes, and yes. But if it doesn’t advance the plot, it probably doesn’t need to be there. We need to entrust some things to our reader’s imagination then learn how to skillfully use techniques to sprinkle, and not dump, information at the proper time. But this is easier said than done. That’s part of the balancing act as mentioned earlier that we need to learn. The good part is that we can edit and revise these matters out of our manuscript until it’s squeaky clean. Happily our bodies naturally eliminate whatever is unnecessary and tags it as waste. It could be an overabundance of an element or simply a byproduct of metabolism doomed for the toilet bowl. Sounds like editing and revising to me! If we miss this opportunity our WIP (work in progress) will get bloated and weighted down with unnecessary material. Apparently music legend Elvis Presley died of chronic constipation. I had no idea about this. Yikes, I suppose it’s a fine line this whole writing thing.






Additional resources:

5 Ninja Self-Editing Tips to Get You From Rejection to Sale

Are You Telling the Wrong Story?

5 Ways to Trim Your Book’s Word Count, Pt. 1 of 2

5 (More) Ways to Trim Your Book’s Word Count, Pt. 2 of 2



Physiology of the Writer: Effect of the Impact Character


Welcome to another edition of Physiology of the Writer. In this article we’ll be discussing the effectiveness of impact characters within our stories. We can liken these impact characters to something extremely prevalent and essential within our own bodies. What is it you say? A molecular component that holds to key to life itself.

~Behold, the HUMAN ENZYME~

ATP synthase

As I’m learning the elements of story structure, I can’t help but contrast it with the anatomy and physiology of our own human body. Enzymes are the invisible superheros of human life. I’ll give you an idea just how important these little workhorses are. Without them human life would not be exist! Our bodies would not be able to sustain the slow rate of reactions or even make life possible on the molecular or cellular level. ENZYMES ARE AWESOME LITTLE SPEED DEMONS. They’re capable of catalyzing millions of reactions per minute. They really hit the gas pedal!

speed meter



  • Enzymes are special agent 007 biological catalysts.
  • Increase the rate of reactions that make human life possible.
  • Can catalyze millions of reactions per minute effecting the metabolism of cells for optimal function. 
  • There are approximately 75,000 enzymes within the human body.
  • There are three main types of enzymes: Metabolic, Digestive and Food.
  • Your story desperately needs an “enzyme” an impact character to speed up, or cause the change in your protagonist.

Great, we got that down. So what exactly is an impact character anyway? Well, we pretty much know the protagonist desperately wants something. That something faces major opposition otherwise the story would flatline and bored readers would die a painful death. But this opposition represents his outer conflict related to the antagonist or antagonistic forces. We all love a good old fashioned antagonist right? But if our characters are well crafted, they’ll also have an inner conflict that’ll resonate more profoundly with readers on a deeper level. If we balance the ingredients of inner and outer conflict we’ll make any story into a delicious page turner.

When there’s an ardent desire or want + hardy opposition  x (an inner resistance to change) + impact character =  PLOT -> a blockbuster page turner story

Are we always accepting to change with open arms? Definitely not. Neither should our protagonists. People are dead set in their ways fighting change unto the death if need be. Most of us if we’re honest are as stubborn as the hills. Just imagine your character in his or her own situation.


I don't want to listen anymore


Our own experience tells us that basic human nature is stubborn and utterly resistant to the slightest possible change. As they say, “Old habits die hard”.  This is especially true when writing a positive change arc. We tend to cling to characters in whom we see a gradual but distinct change. In the books we love, we’re taken along an elaborate journey of 300-400 pages in which we witness a fundamental change worthy of our tears, cheers, hope and laughter. But what or who, brings about this change? You guessed it. The enzymes. The impact character. The impact character is there along the story at critical times that help or even oppose the protagonist to change his ways. Something has to happen to him/her that impacts their life in such a way that changes them on a cellular level. This is the function of the impact character in your story. They are the “enzyme” that will cause your protagonist to undergo an inner conflict of what he or she believes to be true, thus shaking up their world for the better. Hopefully.

Speed Boost Words Road Increased Performance Fast Travel



Give your story a boost by crafting an impact character within your protagonists character arc and see what happens!  For further information on the subject please click the following The Impact Character: Why Every Character Arc Needs One. Without an “enzyme” in your story, there won’t be enough essential ingredients to sustain your novel the vibrant life that it needs.

Until we meet again!

Happy writing!

Benjamin Thomas









Physiology of the Writer: Respiratory System


Lungs with visible bronchi




Howdy there!

Welcome back to another edition of the physiology of the writer!  We will dedicate this weeks post to the awesome respiratory system.  Did you know that the average person breathes 7-8 liters of air per minute? And uses about 550 liters of pure oxygen on a daily basis?  That’s a lot of air!  And that’s not even taking into account any amount of exercise you might be engaged in.

The entire respiratory system as a whole is extremely vital to our body’s functioning and survival.  Without it we die.  Plain and simple.  Without oxygen nothing works. Plain and simple.  The physiology of the respiratory system is very complicated and I won’t go into details here. But there’s one word I could I’d use to characterize the entirety of the respiratory system.  RECEIVING.  The lungs consume oxygen amongst other elements and delivers them to virtually every part of our body.  Technically as the lungs expand and recoil they not only receive but relieve the body of excess gases when we exhale. Pretty cool huh?

As writers we can liken this receiving function to READING. Yes, reading. You hear a lot about how we need to write daily and often, but we need to read just as much.

  “Great writers are great readers”

 -Bestselling author Jerry Jenkins

So I did something this year to dedicate myself to reading.  I joined myself to a 100 book reading challenge hosted by author K.M. Weiland!  Excellent.

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Have fun!




The Physiology of the Writer: The Bones

Still life of model skeleton in Halloween concept


Welcome the second edition of the Physiology of the writer.  This week we will discuss a little about the inner workings of the bones as it pertains to the writer.

One of the most essential elements of the human body, or even its functioning is the skeletal system.  Bones are living organs within every human being.  They have a host of cells that enable them to carry out their daily functions for maintaining homeostasis.  You have the osteocytes, osteoblasts, osteoclasts, not to mention a host of red blood cells within the bone marrow.  But one of the most basic functions of the skeletal system or bones, are that they provide a rigid site for muscle attachment.  Which ultimately is for movement.  And without such an arrangement of bones we would literally be a shapeless sack of flesh.

So you could logically say that without bones there would be no movement or locomotion.  There would be no shape to appreciate, or anything to hold us together.

As writers what is the most basic element of our writing?   I’m guessing it’s the OUTLINE.  The “skeleton” of our writing process.  Without it there’s no locomotion and no shape.  It would be a complete blob.  No matter how awesome the other elements would be there still would be no shape.  It’s much harder to appreciate a bag of flesh just resting on the floor.  Gross huh?  Yup.  It’s even challenging to figure out which organ is which in such a state.

So I’ve been learning one of the most important aspects of writing is the outline.  By nature or design I’m a pantser.  Meaning I’m not much of a planner.  I see one day at a time and I go after it.  But when it comes to writing, there needs to be some definite planning.  Well unless of course you are a diehard pantser.  James Patterson convinced me that the outline is one of the most critical components of the book.  Yes.  Outline.  He spends sometimes a month just on the outline!  Author K.M. Weiland sometimes spends 3 months just on the outline!

Without an outline I’m completely flying blind.  There’s no roadmap and the characters have no idea where they’re going.

But there’s something even more simplistic than the skeleton itself, and that’s the bone marrow.  In physiologic terms there’s nothing simplistic about the functioning of bone marrow.  Hematopoiesis, or blood forming, is the producing of red blood cells that are absolutely vital for survival.  Without it we die. Period.  I know because my father died of bone cancer.  He suffered several vertebral fractures, ailments, and unfortunately he passed.  Multiple Myeloma.

To me the intrinsic bone marrow represents  a basic story premise.  Which is basically a mini outline of the entire story.  Kind of like a birds eye view.

Story Premise

  • Hero or the Protagonist
  • Situation – condition of the hero at the beginning of the story
  • Objective – what does the hero desperately want?
  • Opponent or Antagonist – who opposes the hero?
  • Disaster – forces hero to respond
  • Conflict – main conflict in story

You can see more about story premise here:  Six elements of the Story Premise

I’ve been enjoying working with a basic story premise which has been awesome!  Hopefully sooner than later I’ll master outlining the novel, then structuring the novel by K.M. Weiland.  I’m also reading Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell which has been an eye opener.  Another way of outlining is a way I heard from Kylie Day.  Click here to check it out:

More resources:

7 Point Story Structure by Kylie Day.

Story Engineering with Larry Brooks

Every writer is different.  Isn’t that a beauty?  So I’m curious what’s your experience?  How do you approach writing a novel or short story?






The Physiology of the Writer: Interpreters of Inspiration

3d rendered illustration of engine pistons and cog wheels with depth of field effect

If this is your first time on the writing train, WELCOME.  Join the locomotion.   Well, let’s get started with a brand new section of the blog entitled:



Interpreters of Inspiration


Have you ever wondered what drives a person to commit to writing a full length novel ?  What would inspire them to do such a thing?  The better question would be what exactly is inspiration?  To me, this is quite mysterious.  It comes and goes as it pleases, much like the wind in it’s behavior pattern.  It appears, disappears, changes direction on a dime.  Could be a very subtle breeze tickling the skin, or a category five hurricane knocking the walls of your house down.

For me it seems simple.  When I least expect it, usually something I heard, thought, or saw will stick with me.  In other words, it’s something that we substantiate with our five senses.  We then translate that into an idea, a story, character, or a full length novel.   How does each one interpret the varied inspiration that they receive?  That would be an intriguing research project for some brave soul.  Anyone willing to take up the challenge?

Inspiration usually incites us to action, causing a chain reaction of events.   Normally it drives someone to magnify some form of artistic expression.  Whether it be drawing, painting, decoration, writing, poetry, music or photography.  Inspiration causes movement.  And when that wheel begins to move, things happen. What that movement looks like are as varied as the grains of sand on the beach.

Whoever invented the car is an absolute  genius.  There’s definitely a lot of working parts in your car to make it move.  At least they should be working.   It’s obvious that without fuel nothing works.  But definitely without a working engine you’re going nowhere fast.  And for some strange reason I’ve been considering the piston as representative of this muse, that so easily behooves us, and moves us to write.  One of the most intrinsic, essential parts of an engine are it’s pistons.  When you put your foot on the gas pedal those pistons are pumping fast.  Then off goes your Ferrari.  Cool huh?

Like I’ve said before,  writers are the most intriguing people on the face of the earth.  What drives them?  Muse.  Inspiration.  Interpretation.  Hence a story is born.

That grisly beast in the writer is quite mysterious.  She’s not so bad once you get to know her.  She keeps me company when everyone is sleeping.   My night time mistress keeps me busy.

There it is folks. The audacious pistons of inspiration.  Interpreted by the most intriguing individuals to populate the planet.  You.


~Keep your foot on the gas pedal~




Inspiration and Creativity by Kylie Day

Not feeling Creative? by K.M. Weiland

5 Shorcuts to Getting Ideas for a novel by Better Novel Project