All 10 mins or less
Author’s note: this one was originally published a few years ago over at my now defunct blog The Academy. I don’t normally recycle content, but seeing as how today is Star Wars day (May the 4th…get it?), it seemed like a good time to open up the vault. Enjoy!
To ring in the new year, my wife and I went to go see Rogue One the other morning, and I have to say I was pretty pleased with it. Going in I had some idea of what to expect in terms of the story, so mostly I was curious how…
Every story is told by someone. In fiction, this role is given to the narrator. I’m not necessarily talking about the author — the person sitting behind the keyboard furiously bashing out words at top speed — but rather the entity that relates the tale to the reader. For example, in a story written from 1st person point-of-view, it’s clear that the author is doing an act of literary ventriloquism. They have created a fictional “I” who acts as a witness to the events being related. As readers, we accept that we’re taking a trip into that fictional character’s head…
It is Mt. Everest for fiction writers, that singular, seemingly insurmountable challenge we all aspire to overcome. Tell me, who hasn’t sat at their keyboard, fingers at the ready, staring at a blank page and daydreaming about the moment when we can finally stand atop the world and scream, “THE END”? Because everyone knows that once you’ve been to the mountaintop, writing is no longer something you do. It’s who you are.
And for many who yearn for that blessed transmogrification, the novel is where they start. This is a terrible idea. Think about it. Would you attempt…
“We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
-President John Fitzgerald Kennedy
“Be so good they can’t ignore you.”
Amazon would have me in a second.
My manuscript is complete, all 94,000 words of it, and impatiently waiting on my hard drive for its time to shine. A quick zap from the right Word plugin, and it’s ready for eBook distribution. Follow that with a little amateur typesetting, slap a cover on it, and boom! I’m ready to hasten the decline of your favorite bookstore.
Fine. I’m downplaying it a bit. Knowing…
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” -Voltaire
America just tried to stupid itself out of the airlock.
Lemme ‘splain. Avenue 5 is a TV show about a group of people on a cruise ship in space. A series of mishaps turns what should have been a relatively short jaunt into a years-long nightmare. In episode 8, a minor character begins confidently telling the other passengers on the ship that it’s all a ruse, that the ship is actually still on Earth, that everything is being filmed for a prank show, and that they can…
I received this in my inbox from a literary agent today:
Thank you for sharing your work with me. I know that writing a book is a time-consuming and emotional process, so I appreciate the effort you have expended to reach this point in your publishing journey. Unfortunately, I must reject what you have been kind enough to submit.
I am very selective about taking on new clients. Projects from my clients must have stellar world building, characters that leap off the page, pacing that is relentless, and a story that entices the reader to take its journey…
That was when I learned that words are no good; that words dont ever fit even what they are trying to say at.
-William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
It’s hard to find a more beaten, battered, overworked and overused piece of writing advice than “Show, don’t tell.” It’s also possibly the most misunderstood. Not because it’s hard to differentiate one from the other — which it is — but because it’s rarely explained why one is better. We’re told that Showing makes for stronger, more effective writing. But in what ways is it stronger? Why is it more effective…