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Posts from the ‘WRITING: ART’ Category

Messages in our minds

Man is a rationalizing creature, not a rational one. We can no more order ourselves perfectly from top-down principles than we can tell ourselves “I’m going to eat right, exercise, and get all my chores done from now on!” (Well, we can say that. You all know exactly how well it works.)

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Great American Literature, or Great American Stories

The third world-building post will be in two weeks. It’s coming, never fear. But apropos of the piece at The Passive Voice/Wall Street Journal, and the never-ending debate about “what is real literature” and why should everyone read it, I started wondering…

Rather than “the Great American Novel” with all the literary weight that seems to freight the idea, what if we talked about “the Great American Stories?” Read more

Blast from the Past: Writing with Hope

Sorry about the retread, but I’ve got a sinus monster in my head, and he’s squeezing my brain in his coils and thought is… elusive. Besides which, this is a timeless topic. 

Eric S Raymond nails a list of symptoms to look for as warning signs that a book may be unreadable… Read more

Compensatory Mechanisms

There are times I hate being a writer.  One of the things it does is set me at odds with normal (or really, abnormal but not writers)  human beings, and prevents the enjoyment of simple pleasures that involve story telling.

I used to think I was alone in this, but the last few Liberty cons have quite put paid to that idea, as I hear colleague after colleague say things like “I used to enjoy reading, but now I find myself analyzing it”  or “I loved movies but now I can see the mechanics and the effects.

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Cover caveats

The moment has arrived; your book is ready for its debutante ball. But no matter how finely honed its grace and manners, formatting and prose, it still needs to be dressed in an eye-catching cover that lets the readers of the world know exactly what genre and subgenre she is, and what promises are being made that will be revealed if they can take her home…

And if you’re like me, you’re not an artist. (Really; I just feed them.) So you have to get someone else to do that. Read more

Heartstrings

I drew a piece of art the other day meant to evoke emotions. It’s a pig (inside joke) riding a motorcycle up into the mountains. His labcoat flapping, he’s not got a care in the world, the lab left far behind him… The cartoon lives on the whiteboard outside my boss’s office, and it’s meant to inspire thoughts of summer and leaving work in the dust once we’re all headed home (and yes, he’s riding these warm summer days now). But as I stepped back to make sure I’d gotten proportions and such right, I was thinking about it in terms of writing, and making our writing appealing.

To grab our readers by the heartstrings, and give a gentle tug, is to keep them engaged with the story and wanting to know what happens next. We all have commonalities, from wanting to be outside rather than stuck in a windowless lab on a bright beautiful day, to saying AW! At the sight of a puppy or kitten. Stories that make us feel good are far more likely to have us returning to re-read them time and again than stories that made us feel grimy and gloomy. I was working on a list (always!) of books for girls, and I was noting that as with any list I curate, some of the titles are older than I am, but loved by generation after generation. Little Women, the Five Little Peppers, Black Beauty, and so many more. I loved all of them, and they among others were the ones Mom had us reading out loud to the family while I was growing up. But what is it about these tales we all connect with and love? Read more

Broadsword

I see a dark sail on the horizon
set under a black cloud that hides the sun.
bring me my broadsword and clear understanding.
bring me my cross of gold as a talisman.

Jethro Tull, Broadsword

It was a dark and stormy knight… ahem. My wife often watches TV (and as often as not reads and knits at the same time, leaving me in awe) while I cook in the evening. Now that’s around a corner, and I can’t – most of the time – hear the dialogue or see what is happening. This is good. Never watch a car chase while dealing with hot oil. Read more