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  • Douglas Daech


    Born near Detroit Michigan and transplanted to Tampa Florida in 1982, where he located the story called “Steeling Time”, the author now resides in Russellville, Kentucky.

    His past experience includes articles in the Tripolitan, (Journal of the Tripoli Rocket Association, June 1991) and TRASH (Tampa Regional Aero-Space Hobbyist). In 1993 and 1994 many articles were published in the Unauthorized Launch, the Tampa Tripoli High Power Rocket Club newsletter. A science fiction piece was also presented in the online magazine NTH Degree (May, 2004). Also, an award for creative nonfiction was granted in the 2007 Frank and Cellia Conley Writing Contest at Western Kentucky University

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A Tool for a Writer

Querytracker.com is an online writer’s tool that makes life easier.  It is a one stop shop to find agents and publishers, but it is much more. There are two versions available, one is free and can be helpful, but the premium Query Tracker option is worth the small yearly fee. It gives users the advantage to enter and track multiple projects at the same time as well as a bundle of other helpful tools.

What would a writer want in a query tracking tool?  Surly a record of who has seen what projects and when is needed. As well as some record of the agent’s response needs to be included. That is the guts of any tracker or simple database. But this site offers much more.  Query tracker includes a list of potential agents to send work. Better still, that list can be sub grouped into genres. You wouldn’t want to submit a sci-fi novel to an agent looking for romance work. In addition, the agent info page gives the writer a chance to link to the agency website to review guidelines and current needs. It also allows a place for private agent notes as well as a public comment area so writers can see what others think of that agent. Other tidbits of info on the agent are also available. What more could one ask for?

Query Tracker Premium has even more features that impress.  Besides a record of when and how a piece of work was submitted, writers can see a line-up of submissions made by other users. As those writers get responses and record that information, a writer can see where their work is placed on the timeline. This is helpful in judging if your work has been reviewed and gives a hint of the pace of that agent. It is also helpful because you can see the genres that an agent is actually reviewing, and what is being skipped.

One should remember that the reports on the site depend on the input of those using the tracker. The information is only as good as the updating made by the users. Query Tracker gives an author a good view of what is happening outside one’s own writing bubble too. Success and failures are reported, comments are made, and opinions offered. It creates a community of writers who exchange data and stay on topic.

As opposed to a home-made database system of tracking submissions, Query Tracker offers time savings because agent data is already loaded. It offers insight as to the performance of agents with the comments from other writers, something personal database systems cannot do. Writing can be a solitary life. An alliance with other authors is often welcome. Query Tracker gives a writer a glimpse of what others are doing in the writing community, without the chaos of other social media platforms. QueryTracker.com stays on task, has one job and does it well.

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A question to readers…

old typwriter I believe it was Stephen Foster who said that a story is not written it is rewritten. I remember the quote from a poster in my high school English class, so the quote may not be exactly correct. That was a long time ago!  But, things have not changed much.  Stories are still being rewritten. The computer and word processors makes it easier, thank goodness, but the authors dilemma of what revision makes the best story is still a hard question. Additionally, agents and readers are always making suggestions on what they think would be better.

Currently I’m working on a story that is a comedy, but is not full of side splitting laughs. The classic description of a comedy is a conflict that is overcome and the main character succeeds and survives the challenge. My hero does have a happy ending, overcoming challenges both emotional and physical to win the day. It is almost a fairy tale happy ending, and from the beginning was planned to be exactly that.

But, maybe the ending is too sugar coated. Recently a completely different ending was proposed. It’s an ending that dramatically changes the story into a classic tragedy where the hero loses his battle. In fact in this ending he loses everything. It turns the story into a dark tale with a sad ending. It leaves the reader shocked and perhaps with the question of what happens next. It opens the option for a sequel and sequels in fiction are so popular these days.

What type of books do you like?  Are you always looking for a happy ending? Does a dark sad ending leave a bad feeling in your heart?  Would you be less likely to read another book by this author?  That’s really the question here. Is a sad surprise ending something you would enjoy? Does a story, where after chapters of learning to like a character, you see him fall victim to his adversary appeal to you?  What ending should I go with? I wonder.

Please respond here with your thoughts.

you can view my published work at: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/dugger50

Do I need an outline?

I believe an outline is needed for a major project, say any fiction  over a few thousand words. For non-fiction it is almost a law to have one. A debate or work of argument needs that structure. You can’t prove a point or educate without some organization. My experience deals more with fiction, so I’ll explain what works for me.

Fiction and nonfiction are different, but a written outline will still help with both. Outlines are used to layout the time line, design the ups and downs and pace of the story. All stories have sections that the readers just eat up like desert!  The readers want cake, but they can’t have cake all the time. The meat and potatoes of the story have to be there too. Give them the cake on just special occasions to keep the reader happy and attentive. The outline helps you plan this. Seat-of-your-pants writers often run out of gas half way through the project. They veer off course and often create half-done work.  The story outline has an end in sight. It helps you work to get there, and know when the story is done.

One element of the outline is the thesis.  What message are you trying to convey?  The thesis can be stated silently or shouted in the title, but the bulk of the story should support and come to the conclusion that agrees with that statement. In fiction the thesis is usually unstated. By the end of the story a reader should agree and understand the point of the story. In Goldilocks and the Three Bears the reader learns without being told that you should always keep your front door locked. It is never stated. The reader is shown, not told, the thesis. A different approach is made in the Wizard of Oz. After the adventure, just in case the reader didn’t catch the meaning of the story, Dorothy clicks her heels and says, “There’s no place like home.” Keep the thesis in mind as you develop your outline.

Your fiction outline should act as a road map guiding the story line. Start with character development and the challenges that character faces in the plot.  Is it an enemy, alien, neighbor or girl next door, or perhaps an element of nature such as a volcano, storm or tidal wave? Describe any flaws or personal problems the character has that he’ll overcome as the story makes progress. Personal growth is important for your character as he meets the challenges of the story. Remember Jaws? Sheriff Brody was afraid of water, and couldn’t swim when he started fishing for the shark.

As the conflict heats up the story must rise and fall like waves, taking the reader on a ride. Map out the challenges and little victories on the outline as the story progresses. At a point when all is lost create an epiphany point with a final solution to the plot challenge. Build to the climax of the story when the main character grows and overcomes personal and plot challenges to succeed and concur.

Finally, a summery and cool down section should finish the outline.  This allows a satisfactory tie up of loose ends and concludes the story. Focus on the main character and his success in overcoming his challenge. Happily ever after is a bit light. Each major character in the story is affected in some way by the outcome of the story. Don’t forget them.  This also gives the story teller a chance to set up a sequel.

I used outlines in almost all of my work. You can get a link to them at: http://douglasdaech.yolasite.com/

And join my Author’s page on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/writerdaech/?fref=photo

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