All 10 mins or less
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…
“God had placed him in a garden of infinite bounty, a Land of Goshen in which any man could prosper if only he had the courage and the fortitude to try.”
“Glass had spent years on the frontier. He was a keel, steadying others through his quiet presence. And Henry knew that by morning he would be dead.”
Michael Punke, The Revenant
There are vast stretches of the American landscape untouched by human hands. Seas of grass set upon by unrelenting winds. Rivers carving narrow channels through stone. Mountains towering to spectacular heights, unconquered and unconquerable. Beginning in the sixteenth…