Paul Swearingen

Now retired after 34 years of teaching English, Spanish, and journalism in public, private, and government schools. Hobbies: DX'ing (Google it!), gardening, collecting a lot of crap that now fills my house (I bet I have older computers than anyone who has better sense!).

Which is more important to you: plot or character?

I can barely separate and prioritize plot/character when I write, as they are so closely intertwined in fiction. Nevertheless, I consider the prime purpose of writing fiction to be storytelling, so “plot” gets the nod, followed by character and then setting, also vitally important to fiction. By definition, a piece of fiction (novel or short […]

Character development

In the past – say around Dickens’ time – often writers would employ the clunky technique of establishing characters by stopping the story and then describing a character in detail: clothing, shape of brow, past indiscretions, jaw shape, blemishes, the whole bit. Characters were doomed to their roles from the start by birthmarks, the shape […]


I’ve e-published six YA novels myself so far. I’ve purchased a few printed self-published books and downloaded several e-books. And my thoughts as I read most of the self-published books ran mostly to ‘hasn’t this writer ever heard of editing?’ At the bottom end, many e-books are simply gawdawful (and I’m not talking about 2,000-word […]

Writing routine and devices

In spite of being old enough to be a registered Luddite, I use a Mac computer (either MacBook Pro or G4-hotrodded-to-G5-speed desktop) exclusively to write. I don’t think I’ll ever have to worry about Alzheimer’s, and my mind works way too fast for me to trust a typewriter or pen (although I keep my Olympia […]