Technique Smile, and the whole world wonders what you’re up to

Smile, and the whole world wonders what you’re up to

It is said (apparently inaccurately) that the Inuit have many words for ‘snow.’  Why would that be?  Why, because they see a lot of snow, of course. English has very few words for ‘smile,’ even though we see a lot of them (I hope).  Grin.  Grimace. Beam. Smirk. Maybe even Simper. And you can drag …

Read Article Read More

Fiction Google and Real Places

Google and Real Places

Google is wonderful.  For a person writing thrillers, it’s a critical resource.  Need a Russian phrase?  No problem. An overhead view of a village like Hainburg an der Donau in Austria (my second novel)?  Google Maps has you covered. The uniform of a Florida state trooper?  Google images. But … there is no substitute to actually having been …

Read Article Read More

Mechanics The Writing Paradigm

The Writing Paradigm

Ponderous title, no? The paradigm of writing has been one of my discoveries, the kind that slaps you upside the head and then laughs at you when you look back over your benighted stumble toward understanding and realize that it was always there, obvious. You were just too dense to see it. Webster’s defines paradigm …

Read Article Read More

Mechanics Stop Saying “I Feel Like”

Stop Saying “I Feel Like”

One of the many challenges I face as a beginning writer (I can still claim novice status, particularly when making novice mistakes) is the issue of how temporal to be. “Temporal” often means “temporary.” Who knows how long LOL or awesome will last? And, do you really want to date your writing? Then there’s the …

Read Article Read More

Mechanics Details Details

Details Details

I’m beginning to understand that most of writing involves choices about where to land between extremes. The issue I’m currently working with in rewrite is the question of how much to tell. It came up because I got widely different comments in writing groups on the lead passage of my first novel: “So you’re the …

Read Article Read More

Mechanics The Difficulty of Simplicity

The Difficulty of Simplicity

I keep running into the oh-so-true bits that slap me upside the head: A comment from Benjamin Moser (New York Times Book Review):  “Today, I realize that clear expression can come only from clear thinking. And I know how hard it is to write something that is easy to read.” A comment from Tim Mahoney …

Read Article Read More

Literature The Value of Literature in 30 words or Less

The Value of Literature in 30 words or Less

It was a simple statement on a subject too often drowned in words: Study of the Liberal Arts “is for developing the muscle of thoughtfulness, the use of which will be the greatest pleasure in life and will also show what it means to be fully human.” It came from Anne Hall, a lecturer at …

Read Article Read More

Fiction The Blasted Backstory

The Blasted Backstory

I took a great short course on backstory at the Cape Cod Writer’s Conference last week. Michelle Hoover, the teacher, is a fine writer (literary fiction – The Quickening) and knowledgeable instructor. I really needed the course. She remarked to us that we control some part … maybe 60% … of what the reader gets …

Read Article Read More

%d bloggers like this: