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Posts by Blake Smith

Regionalisms

Did you know that Walmart has packages of frog legs in their freezer case? At least, the one near my house does.

I now live on the line between the Midwest and the South, so there have been a few things that make me scratch my head. Like, frog legs in the grocery store (I didn’t try them; they weren’t cheap enough to entice me). But frog legs pale in comparison to trying to make myself understood. Read more

Ground Control to Major Tom

A topic that comes up frequently on my radar is, how does the human race leave Earth and settle other planets? I usually bow out of these discussions because a) I have no intention of settling on another planet and b) no space colony would take me, so it’s rather a moot point.

But the subject came up yet again, and I don’t have anything better to write about today, so, let’s talk. Read more

Now, What?

My life has been a novel for the past ten days. I roll out of bed in the mornings and wonder, “What fresh hell is going to be served up today?” So far, all of the stuff that affects me, personally, has been fixable; and the costs of fixing it are, for the most part, not coming out of my pocket. But it’s been an interesting education in what we put our characters through- dropping a new catastrophe on them every chapter- and how a real person would handle it. Read more

More Unintended Consequences

Help!- I’m trapped in a maze of cardboard boxes, and I can’t find the way out! Read more

Runaway Stories

We’ve all done it. You write the best fight scene in the world, then realize the story has shot off in a different direction than you planned. Or you have the most amazing snappy dialogue… and it’s three times as long as it should be. Read more

Who Was That Guy?

Do you ever wonder if you’re doing the writer equivalent of typecasting? Not your characters; yourself. Do your readers look at your newest publication and say, “Oh, another book by so-and-so. It’ll have a car chase in chapter one, a bomb will go off near the middle, and the main character will fall for someone unsuitable. And the main character will have a dog, which bites the unsuitable love interest,” or something of the like? Read more

Fiat Lux

Until the advent of recorded audio books, it was impossible to read in the dark. And it’s not wholly a coincidence that books became more widespread as lighting technology improved. Cheap paper and the printing press were also important, but the books that were produced had to be consumed, and that requires light. Read more

A Last-Second Post

I thought I had a post on historical house construction all ready to go for you guys, then I read through it and realized that it’s at least three posts, and I don’t have enough time to do justice to the subject, in between the zillion other errands I need to do today. I had rolled room layout, windows and glassmaking, and lighting technology all into one little article. Entire books have been written about each subject, and I wasn’t writing concisely; I was leaving out half the information. So that’ll be a series for another day.

But all is not lost; I do have something for you. Read more

Hysteria and the Ordinary Writer

Stop that screeching. The world is not ending. If this wasn’t an election year in the United States, COVID-19 would get about thirty seconds of media coverage a night, and that’d be it. And yet, here we are, with schools and businesses closing, flights from Europe suspended, and a large portion of the population running around with their hair on fire. And a shortage of toilet paper, of all things.

What is a writer to do? Read more

How NOT to Write

Most of us know enough about writing to get by. When we take up this craft, we learn about characterization, settings, plots – a whole laundry list of concepts that go into a book.

Many of these things can be learned by reading other, well-written novels and short stories, and extrapolating from there, with occasional references to more standard teaching materials- lectures, diagrams, articles like the ones here at MGC. This is how I learned to write, for better or worse. Read more