Story Logic

posted in: Writing Craft | 10

You read a book or see a movie, set in our own time, in a setting with which you’re quite familiar, one populated by fully realized, complex characters. After finishing it, you think, “Well, that was unbelievable.” Then you read something far removed from anything in our experiences or our history. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, for example. Filled with hobbits, orcs, flying dragons, walking and talking trees, wizards, elves, and magic. You finish it, and think, “Wow, loved … Read More »

Better Left Unsaid

posted in: Writing Craft | 4

When we write dialogue in a first draft, most of us try and make it sound informal and natural. Conversational, because it’s supposed to represent a conversation. But not too conversational, of course. If you transcribed verbatim almost any real conversation you hear in a day, you’ll read it back and realize it sounds much like incoherent blather. So you attempt a better version of the real thing. When revising dialogue, though, I find myself cutting and cutting, trying to … Read More »

Literary and Scary

posted in: Writing Craft | 5

The cool October embraces, and most of us—if we’re being honest—are drawn to the scary things as Halloween looms. Stories of darkness and horror whisper to us, in movies, television, graphic arts, and literature. Lovers of the literary, do not despair! Chills and frights are not all about slashers and gore. Illustrious writers from Shakespeare to Faulkner to Levin have dabbled in the macabre. It’s okay to be scared. But we don’t turn to the great authors for buckets of … Read More »

Through Different Eyes: Ray Bradbury and “The Garbage Collector”

posted in: Writing Craft | 8

Science Fiction author Ray Bradbury is best known for the novel Fahrenheit 451 and his lush prose style, but his true gift, in my view, lay in the short story. He published hundreds of them, most of exceptional quality and invention. In 1953, he published one of only a couple thousand words, titled “The Garbage Collector.” It’s a workshop on taking the commonplace and finding the greatness within. In this case, the commonplace is the title character. We never learn … Read More »

The Sublime Art of the Unreliable Narrator

posted in: Writing Craft | 6

  We want those around us to be honest with us, to tell us the truth. Most of the time, anyway. We want them to be reliable in their narrations. But in fiction, great beauty resides within the unreliable. Author Wayne C. Booth coined the phrase “unreliable narrator” in 1961 to describe that narrative voice the writer employs with the goal of misleading us, the readers. It may not be the easiest thing to manage with success, but when it … Read More »

Corresponding with the Experts

posted in: Writing Craft | 11

As a reader, I’m willing to suspend disbelief to great extent, thereby granting license to Writer Jane to take liberties and push, even shred, the envelope in order to tell the story and entertain me. But Jane has a certain responsibility to get it right. I expect her to make at least a minimum effort to get right the facts of how things are or were, however mundane those facts may be. No matter the genre. Yet few among us … Read More »

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