Matthew Arnold wrote: “Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can.” Hemingway said it a bit differently: “My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the simplest possible way.”I believe good writing is clear thinking, saying what you mean in the simplest possible way. The problem for fiction writers is that we don’t always know
And so it is written...
Why I write speculative fiction
I’ve always been suspicious about reality. Is what we believe merely a reflection of how we’ve been raised and what we’ve been taught. Anyone who has traveled knows other cultures see the world differently. And anyone who has spent extended time in a hospital or war zone has learned the hard way that one’s sense of reality can be easily fragmented. We conveniently construct a world view that suits us—at least until something challenges it.
The Greatest Thing I learned in School
In the seventh grade, I began a six year college preparatory school, the elite school in the city and accessible only via an entrance exam. Ninety-nine percent of its graduates went on to college, many to Ivy League schools. But only one in three graduated. I felt pretty confident. I had a good education to date and all the skills to succeed. But I had never read for pleasure. The kids
Why genres exist?
Did you ever stand in an art gallery, look at a painting and think,” it’s a girl squatting beside a bird’s nest.” Then the guy next to you says, “It’s a man walking a dog.” The two of you step closer to see who’s right, and the illusion dissolves into brushstrokes. Books are like that. Why should a bunch of letters crawling across a page evoke so much emotion? “I loved that
The plot thickens – how to start a story
Many writers have an image in their mind of how to begin a plot. First, you come up with one or more compelling characters who want something badly. Then you make it hard for them to get it. Over time, I’ve heard others talk about how they like to envision the situation that starts their story. One said he sends his characters up a tree and throws rocks at them until they
“If you can keep on trying after three failures in a given undertaking you may consider yourself a ‘suspect’ as a potential leader in your chosen occupation. If you can keep on trying after a dozen failures the seed of a genius is germinating within your soul.” -Napoleon Hill
What’s so hot about dystopia?
The Telegraph in London recently wrote about dystopian fiction: “Wizards and vampires are out. The market in teen fiction is dominated now by societies in breakdown.” What’s so attractive about burned-out worlds and people scrabbling for food in hollow shells of cities? A closer look shows dystopia has been around a long time. Panic about the cold war and the atomic age produced such classics as George Orwell’s 1984 and William
Quote from Albert Einstein:
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
Details, details…A cool cup of steaming tea
Writers are always taught to show, not tell. A good example of this is at the beginning of The Night Circus, the wonderful debut novel by Erin Morgenstern. Early in the book, Prospero the Enchanter is called into his theater manager’s office, because a five-year old girl has been left for him, brought in by a lawyer along with her mother’s suicide note. Other than being told
The duty of the old
Quote from Phillip Pullman's The Golden Compass: "The duty of the old...is to be anxious on behalf of the young. And the duty of the young is to scorn the anxiety of the old."