Writing and Shit – part 37 – Writing, fast and slow

Cast your mind back to the recent and the twenty year-old books I asked you to pick out and read – it’s very likely that within the first five or ten pages of the recent one more takes place, and what does happens is faster. Scenes in movies have become shorter, scenes in stories have […]

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 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 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 23 – How to Write Really Bad Dialogue

Now that you’ve had a go at the three models of dialogue, you may be thinking I have horribly oversimplified the complexity of how people talk to one another. Good. Now it’s time to think about how to do better. Mr But: And you said you were going to mention other possible models of dialogue. […]

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 […]

Writing and Shit – part 11 – Make it wronger

I am now going to give you a second definition of a story that, I hope, will from now on, forever after, make it easier for you to write stories that don’t just start but that go on through exciting, intensifying middles and reach satisfying, unpredictable ends. The second definition doesn’t undermine or contradict the […]

Intimately Uninvolved: Notes of a Librettist

Vastation When it gets to curtain up, The Librettist is intimately uninvolved in the opera she has co-written. She is aware that, some time in the past, if her fingers had struck a different arrangement of keys, then what is about to happen would be other. That this character is already on stage – that […]