Writing and Shit – part 30 – The horror! The horror!

Let’s spend a moment examining what story-time means for one particular genre: horror. (Some generalisations follow. Not all horror novels may conform, I realise.) The story-time of a horror novel depends upon a specific form of suspense, namely dread. Horror novels are dread-ful. But we can subdivide them in terms of microgenres, in terms of […]

Writing and Shit – part 28 – Non-stories, the Eiffel Tower and North Korea

Here is a non-story. A waiter works in the café at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Every smoking break, he goes and looks at the view. Afterwards, he goes back inside the café and continues serving customers. Here is a story. An old Korean woman who lives in North Korea has a […]

Writing and Shit – part 27 – Come on, that’s just not realistic

BUT THAT JUST WOULDN’T HAPPEN – IT’S NOT AT ALL REALISTIC Oh dear. It’s like Mr But has taken over the section titles. He’s making a bid for total power. Mr But has more to say. I’m going to let him speak for as long as he wants: You’re taking examples from Hollywood movies – […]

Writing and Shit – part 25 – Hip-speak and and stuttering

Pushing further away from expositional dialogue, we come to what I call ‘hip’ dialogue. Hip-speech is a version of slang, similar to criminal slang – it is a way of communicating without fear of being overheard and understood. The jazz musician Lester Young came up with or popularized a lot of hip language – language […]

Writing and Shit – part 24 – What the hell is exposition?

Writers are usually much better at spotting, and mocking, exposition in the work of other writers. In their own work, sections of disguised address to the reader (a.k.a. info-dump) are simply jobs that have to be done, one way or the other. It is a truth of writing that sometimes the ugly way is the […]

Writing and Shit – part 18 – Breaking your statues into two pieces

ALL BY YOURSELF One of the biggest faults in stories by less experienced writers is that they are about extremely isolated people – people who start off by being isolated and don’t end up making much contact with others. This is not, in itself, a bad idea. There have been many wonderful stories about people […]