Skip to content

Posts from the ‘WRITING: ART’ Category

Getting back together

The loves I’ve left behind…

I’ve just had a couple of weeks of my cousins from Brittany visiting. Like us, they’re a family quite content to companionably read, but they like having adventures with – as they call me – Robinson (as in Robinson Crusoe – when the boys were teens, visiting us from French urban life, I introduced them to being hunter-gatherers, which made me ‘Robinson Crusoe’ long before I lived on an island) as well as eating the ‘exotic’ (as in shot or caught or collected ourselves) things which are our normal diet (like the picture), not theirs. It’s been a busy time, spearing, netting, diving, shooting, to say nothing of the prep of the gear, and processing and cooking. Read more

MICE is Nice: Character Stories

Character stories seem to be some of the easiest for me to write, at least until the characters flip me the Hawaiian Peace Sign and head off into parts unknown-to-author.

What is a character story? Oh boy, I’ve found three different definitions, and I don’t entirely agree with any of them. One, Orson Scot Card, says that character stories are driven by the character’s desire or need to change something about herself or her situation. An English textbook says it is any time an individual is the main plot driver, and an academic paper went so post-modern that I gave up trying to understand what the author meant once I got past “the main character is also the protagonist.” Read more

The Soft Sciences

I would argue that to be a good writer, you need only to understand the human psyche. To be a great writer, you must delve more deeply into the interactions of humans, social and otherwise, than most people think possible. Not, necessarily, to psychoanalyze people – I have issues with psychology as a science, hence the title – but to truly understand what makes them tick, and to be able to predict what they will do faced with a given situation. Only that reaction isn’t going to be the same from person to person. One will freeze and be unable to react when the sound of gunfire rings out. Others will run toward it, knowing lives are at stake and even if they must lay down their life, they must respond in times of crisis. As a writer, one of these is the hero, the other the forlorn sidekick – not the antagonist. The antagonist is not a yellow-bellied white-feathered coward, and it would be a mistake to write him so. Read more

The Almost-never Ending Story: Or adding 20K Words (Two Years After the Book is Finished)

Or So I Thought…

I’m going to skip a week in the MICE is Nice series and bemoan a slow muse. You see, I had other projects to work on, alpha and beta reads to do, and assorted matters to attend to. And the Muse grabbed me by the hair, dragged me to the computer and informed me that “No, Against a Rising Tide is not done yet. The ending is not the ending. Start writing again.” Read more

Built to last

In a time of throw-away fashionable clothing, pre-cooked microwavable meals, and when a new author’s retention time on brick and mortar store’s book-shelf is 6 weeks – if the book store gets it unpacked and on the shelf by day one of its six weeks… I guess I was born in the wrong era.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I like modern medicine a lot more than wire-brush-and-Dettol or sacrificing a clay replica of the afflicted body-part, but books that make it onto my shelf tend to have a very long retention time. I don’t sell them, even if I am foolish enough to lend them out. I’ve enjoyed them, and I want others to try them and enjoy them too… Which works, but they don’t always come home. Look, I wear clothes until they are past repairing. What is this fashion thing of which you speak? And I guess I am the same about books –at least some of them – I read and re-read until they fall apart. And, as often as not, I’ve hunted down another copy before that happens. They’re old friends I turn to in tough times. Read more


Never trust a truss… ‘I’ve busted me truss and me hernia is givin’ me royal gyp…’

Or am I thinking of turkeys? It’s been a good year for them, and I gather you can now get the self-plucking, self-drawing, self-stuffing and definitely self-trussing model. They probably roast themselves too. In case you were behind the news I believe you can get them from SFWA. They thought World Con San Jose use of pre-crime so good they also had to refuse Jon Del Arroz the membership he qualifies for. Hmm. Advice for turkeys: Bake. That. Cake.

‘We’re not refusing Joe Soap entry to our public organization because he’s gay/black/trans… Based on the behavior of and online statements by this individual over the preceding year or so, which the credentials committee believes is inconsistent with the obligations that our members have to one another, the committee has determined that it has good and sufficient cause to deny this membership.’ Read more

The Quiet Diversity of Robert Anson Heinlein -by Christopher Nuttall


The Quiet Diversity of Robert Anson Heinlein – -by Christopher Nuttall


To cut a long story short, I wrote three reviews of Heinlein’s most popular and influential books for Amazing Stories.  (You can find the first here.)  In doing so, I realised that Heinlein had practiced a form of ‘quiet diversity.’  It seemed a good topic for an essay.

‘Diversity’ is a word that brings out some pretty mixed feelings in me.

On one hand, I appreciate being able to eat food from many different cultures and explore the history of many different societies.  On the other hand, I frown at the idea that all cultures must be treated as equal when it is self-evidently true that they are not.  And, on the gripping hand, I feel very strongly that characters must not serve as politically-correct mouthpieces for a writer (or a company’s) views on society.  That does not lead to well-rounded characters, but to flat entities that are either instantly forgettable or laughable.

Diversity does not exist when a character is feted as the first [insert minority group character] to exist.  Diversity exists when the presence of such characters is seen as unquestionable.  Read more