Murder your darlings: Writing rule of style du jour

 

johnson portrait
Murder your darlings

Read your own compositions, and when you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.

Samuel Johnson, from James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, 1791

 

Excellent advice. (I once presented this maxim to a writing class, trying to remember which great man had originally proposed it. In fact, half the great writers in history have said the same thing in one way or another.)

Lose a few chapters, gain Read more

Get rich quick: Plan A

Jack Shackaway here. I’m worried about Collin. Take a look at this e-mail:

Yo, Jack.

One of the UK publishers I most respect has just declined my 180,000-word science fiction novel, saying how much they like the writing and world-building, and how they understand and admire the structure, but for some indefinable reason they haven’t “fallen in love” with it. So we turn to other ways of generating an income from writing.

I’m thinking I’ll run this classified ad in

Read more

Dark Night of My Quick Guns XVII, by Allie Ambit: A brief review

Jack Shackaway presents a review of a recent Mickey’s Muse product:

explosion hollywoodTHIS BOOK never fails to satisfy basic reader expectations, but I was disappointed that, in key ways, it never exceeds them.

Take the lead scene, for example. Mr. Ambit presents everything that Hollywood wants—a startling instance of random structural violence, with much smoke and flame and opportunity for the action hero to squint in the general direction of the shitstorm and wince in a way that suggests strong … Read more

How I quit smoking: And what climate-change deniers can learn from this

 quit smoking

My fix

I’m lucky to be alive. For one thing, I began smoking cigarettes at the age of nine. By the age of 12, I was smoking at least half a pack a day and, by the time I left home at the age of 15, I had a 40-50 a day habit. By the time I was 16 going on 17, I’d smoke another pack if I spent an evening in a tavern. I eventually stopped after 28 years … Read more

Bingeing on bingeing

Bingeing writers and binge writing. Traditionally, writers have been notorious bingers. And, aside from any occupational enthusiasm for booze and suchlike, we get binge writing, where instead of turning caffeine into books, as some would have it, writers instead turn whiskey into piss and engage in binge writing in the intervals between their alchemical endeavors. (I first encountered the expression “binge writing” listening to a Letterman interview with Hunter S. Thompson. See “What is writing?”)

hangovers joy of

hunter s thompson guardianBinge Read more

Losing the plots

This is the longest I’ve neglected my blog since I started it about three years ago.

And right now I should be working on a novel, rather than poking at this post. Except I’ve lost the plot. The structure of my narrative escapes me just now.

Call it writer’s block, or simple lack of sleep. Or maybe this book is really a classic hobologoistic project that should be presented to the jury now, with a view to burning the ms. … Read more

Starbucks is a jungle

I’m sitting here like a prat in a coffee shop renowned throughout the modern world as the natural habitat of prats with laptops who, in their whole attitude and disposition, claim to be writers. I’m struggling to make sense of a world of my own design and construction. In fact, I grapple with an idea so arcane that previous science-fiction writers who entertained it had to be institutionalized.

I look up from my MacPro to gaze at the ceiling … Read more

What’s lurking beneath *your* garden?

 

Rude revision to one’s life plans: Florida man disappears with bedroom into sinkhole.

The news these days is enough to have us all hiding under our beds. Not that this strategem is foolproof, it seems.

 

Other network-newsworthy causes for alarm:

Near miss: asteroid.

Near miss: meteorite shower over Russia (largely spares pop. centers).

Near miss: fiscal cliff; sequester still plunging through atmosphere inspiring panic in many quarters.

Etc.

How many other near misses go unnoticed and unremarked? There’s … Read more

Safe and cosy

Posted from under my bed: Totalitarianism rools, OK! Don’t see any way around it, given the politics of fear combined with the ever-more extensive collection and storage of data subject to interpretation by ever-more sophisticated programs.

Alternatively, doesn’t it give you a cosy feeling to know that the Powers That Be are doing such a good job of protecting us from all that bad stuff out there? Especially when we know these Powers are so enlightened and so consistently benign. … Read more

They’re everywhere! More on neural parasites

Soon there’ll be nowhere left in the world to run to, no place to hide.

In response to something I posted on neural parasites some time ago —  “Fable with parasites I: Bravery lies in the brain of the beholder” — Steve Hyde said this: “Reminds me of those tourists that have been taken over by their backpacks … [Like the chickens in your post], they’re … known to fearlessly approach dangerous beasts.” I believe he was referring to … Read more