Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category


Several of our authors have web sites. Here are the ones that immediately come to mind:

Over the next few days I’ll contact the other authors who seem like they might have either a site or blog, and will add any that come up. So, if you’re interested, please check back shortly and you’ll probably find additional author sites and blogs.

Note: Tim Boomer, who wrote The Bassist’s Bible, is also a computer pro who wrote the very nice looking Bassist’s Bible web site. He’s currently rewriting the See Sharp Press site, which badly needs the update. I wrote it in html 3 over 15 years ago, and it looks it. It’s not quite in Save Walter White territory, but not that far beyond it. The spiffy looking redesigned site will be up later this summer.

Finally, in non-book-related news, Mick Berry, co-author of The Drummer’s Bible, has a web site up for his one-man show, Keith Moon: The Real Me, which is playing in San Jose through June 24th.

 


“Books should be about the people you know, that you love and hate, not about the people you study . . .”

Ernest Hemingway’s 9 Best Tips on Writing


Philip Roth

“Beginning a book is unpleasant. I’m entirely uncertain about the character and the predicament, and a character in his predicament is what I have to begin with. Worse than not knowing your subject is not knowing how to treat it, because that’s finally everything. I type out beginnings and they’re awful . . . I need something driving down the center of a book, a magnet to draw everything to it—that’s what I look for during the first months of writing something new. . . . What matters most isn’t there at all. I don’t mean the solutions to problems, I mean the problems themselves. You’re looking, as you begin, for what’s going to resist you. You’re looking for trouble.”

–“Philip Roth, The Art of Fiction No. 84


Ursula Le Guin

“There’s always room for another story. There’s always room for another tune, right? Nobody can write too many tunes. So if you have stories to tell and can tell them competently, then somebody will want to hear it if you tell it well at all. To believe that there is somebody who wants to hear that story is the kind of confidence a writer has to have when they’re in the period of learning their craft and not selling stuff and not really knowing what they’re doing.”

Ursula Le Guin interview with Choire Sicha


I just read a self-indulgent, useless piece by an editor at another small press regarding a recently deceased prominent sci-fi author (Ursula Le Guin). The editor had nothing interesting to say — whatever; it’s what I expected — but what really irritated me was her use of the term “passed away” in place of “dead” or “deceased.”

If you’re trying to convey useful information, euphemisms — even the most commonly understood — are a lousy, inefficient way to do it. Let’s take this euphemism: “passed away” is a  term with two words, a dipthong, and three syllables. The slightly more polite but still accurate “deceased” is a single word with two syllables. “Dead” consists of a single word and a single syllable.

Over the last three-and-a-half years, nearly of 20 my friends have died (all younger than me). They’re dead; they didn’t “pass”; they didn’t “pass away”; they didn’t “go to a better place.” They’re dead. And I miss them.

There’s no way to sugar coat it, and trying to do so is obnoxious, condescending — taking the reader as a delicate flower who can’t handle the truth.

As Lemme put it, my friends are “stone dead, forever.”

Using euphemisms wastes time and makes honest discourse more cumbersome.

Stop it. Please stop it.


John Grant

A couple of days ago I asked two-time Hugo Award winner John Grant what advice he’d have for aspiring writers. His newest book is Corrupted Science: Fraud, Ideology, and Politics in Science (revised & expanded). Here’s John’s advice:


Of all such pieces of advice, my favorite comes from Nora Roberts. As accurately as I can remember, it read simply: “Apply ass to chair. Write.”

Corrupted ScienceDecades ago, I got a similar message from Alec Waugh. He said essentially that the way to become a writer was to buy a ream of paper and a typewriter (told you this was decades ago!), then stick the first sheet of paper into the machine. By the time you got to the end of the ream you’d be a writer. If that failed, buy another ream and if necessary a fresh typewriter ribbon.

My late and still much mourned pal Iain Banks apparently wrote about six unpublished novels before the Waugh trick worked for him. The fact that he used the thinnest available paper and single-spaced his typing, forswearing such bourgeois desirables as margins (why waste good paper?), may also have had something to do with the delay in his being recognized as the extraordinary talent he was.

The best advice I ever got was from Colin Wilson, although he never exactly expressed it in words to me. One of my earliest books was a co-authorship with him. While working on it I noticed that (duh!) his bits were, y’know, better than mine. It eventually dawned on me that this was because Colin’s writing had all the immediacy of a conversation: he was essentially speaking onto the paper.

Although since then I’ve explored lots of other modes of writing, that remains my default style. One difficulty is that editors, especially for some reason American editors, sometimes crack down on what they perceive as my “sloppiness” — changing “won’t” into “will not,” sorta thing, or sticking in Oxford commas — but essentially that’s still the way I write: I hear what I want to write, then write the spoken words down.

So that’s the single piece of advice I’d pass along to you: don’t write, just speak onto the paper. You can always cut out the swearing and scatology later.


Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

“Develop the habit of ruthless self-criticism. Your first (or tenth) draft is not your precious child. Murder it. Savage it. It is nothing more than inert clay: a thing to be scrutinized, questioned, kneaded, chopped up, pounded, rearranged, and, if necessary, thrown away. Seek out those whose opinions you respect and ask them to give you objective criticism. . . . Another piece of advice is to write the kind of story you yourself would like to read.”

–“So you want to become a published writer