Tales of the Epistolary

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In high school, I picked up Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) and was quickly smitten by the method of the storytelling, rendered through characters’ journals, letters, ship’s log entries, telegrams, and even wax cylinder recordings on that newfangled invention, the phonograph. I didn’t know it at the time, but Dracula represents a great example of the epistolary novel. Documents. It’s all about using documents to tell the story. An example is this log entry jotted by the troubled captain of the … Read More »

Warping the Universe for Fun and Profit

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Beginning in 1905 with a series of papers and little fanfare, Albert Einstein turned the Universe on its head. The notion of time and space being fixed, separate entities, he deduced, is all wrong. He envisioned “spacetime” as a single thing in his special and general theories of relativity. Better yet, spacetime flexes and bends and warps with gravity. And if all matter exerts a gravitational force, my time is not your time and your time is not mine. This … Read More »

When Setting Becomes Character

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When I was in college, studying landscape architecture when it didn’t interfere with my busy beer-drinking schedule, the dean liked to hammer home a recurring concept. “Genius loci,” he would say, his eyes agleam, his bowtie aflutter. “Spirit of the place.” You must understand a site fully before you design for it, he argued. Ideally, one should sit upon the ground in the middle of the place and meditate. Throughout a full year. Feel the sunshine. See the dappled light … Read More »

A Vaccine for Viewpoint Troubles

Once upon a time, I was a lot younger and a lot smarter than I am now. Rules of writing in viewpoint? Ha! I didn’t need lessons from all those tedious how-to-write books. My natural talent would carry the day, my written words would sing, and my genius would shine through. Oh well. Live and learn. I did, the hard way. At least I hope I did. Years later, in 2009, I was thrilled to win a first-place Royal Palm Literary Award … Read More »

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