Writing as a hobby and writing as a business

In both of these, maybe the word communication is a better choice. In both of these, you as the author have the need to communicate something to the reader. Hopefully that turns out to be readers, plural, but there are instances in which all you need is a single person.

The difference is, a hobby is fun and business isn’t always.

I’ve written many reports. I used to work in the corrections field, carrying the tools of the trade – so to speak. One of those tools was a pen. Whenever something happened behind the fence or in a cellblock or wherever, that something had to be documented. In those reports I had to be clear and concise, and to be perfectly honest, being concise wasn’t always the easiest thing. I was clear, and no one that ever read a report of mine ever had to follow up with me again, other than the pro forma first time. Sometimes, not even then.

Which brings me to another point. Be honest in your writing. There were several times in those situations that I could have been in serious trouble, but by writing honestly, I avoided it. I won’t go into the situations in any specificity, because of privacy concerns, but all of those was the things that corrections/law enforcement have to deal with in almost a daily basis matter. Jokes in a work context is often not a good idea and can cast you as the writer in a bad light.

What does this have to do with writing as a hobby?

Be clear about what’s happening with your antagonist, or any characters, for that matter. If the Big Bad is about to beat the crap out of the Hero who’s been chasing him through twenty-six chapters, and you’ve come to a point where the Hero is dangling over a cliff and escapes, be sure be clear. Let your reader know that when the Big Bad is beat up by the Hero (or the Sidekick) don’t just say, “A mighty punch ended the dastardly villain’s plans.” Jokes can show themselves, but don’t go wild.

Instead, try this.

Blood dripped as the battered man rolled away from that yawing cliff edge. A red trail marked his travel, and he looked up to see a hated face.

Murchinson buffed his nails and leaned on the baseball bat. He was impressed that Lieutenant Bailey could keep going, and the crime boss wasn’t sure if that was just plain stubbornness or if it was dedication. He didn’t care.

“This has been very fun, but I have a previous appointment and I don’t want to be late.”

He raised the aluminum bat. The flickers from the flames danced around and glinted off the metal. Murchinson grinned happily. One more dead copper. He sang to himself as he tensed his body for the fatal swing. The lieutenant looked up, one eye swollen shut.

A sharp whistle cut the smoky air. Murchinson turned to see what was happening, right in time for a heavy punch to land in his face. The bat dropped out of his hand, landing on the lieutenant’s broken fingers.

Sergeant Wilson glared at the criminal. His uniform was ripped almost to shreds, and his duty belt was in bad shape. His pistol was missing a magazine, and his reloads was gone.

“Sorry I’m late. I had to write some parking tickets on a van. Seems it was illegally parked in a handicapped slot.” He landed another blow deep into Murchinson’s gut, and followed it up with a left hook that put him down for the count. Wilson handcuffed the unconscious man, then scooted to check on the other man.

Bailey struggled up with the sergeant’s help. He squinted at Wilson.

“Was there really a van out there?”

“No, but I had to say something.”

Footsteps sounded, moving insistently as more cops came into view, headed to contain the scene. Sergeant Wilson shepherded the injured man to the rear, and gently convinced him to stop being a fool and get on a stretcher. EMS checked him out.

Wilson looked at the scene. Six months of round-the-clock work, and it ended as suddenly as this.

He needed a vacation.

So there you have it. More detail other than the “mighty punch.” While it is dramatized, it is also honest in that a cop might very well have to act in this way.

Just my thoughts for tonight. Have fun with the written word.

-JB Steele

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