Young Creator

This is a creation from my 4 year old son, Cuinn. Everest of Paw Patrol is flying a spaceship constructed from a stormtrooper Mr. Potatohead. Note the arm in front: that's a laser cannon. Looks like a propulsion unit in the back with the stormtrooper mask. And the ship has eyes. Why? So it can... Continue Reading →

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Starting Late And Dying Young

So, General Organa -- Carrie Fisher -- is dead. At sixty. She left behind a hell of a body of work and a trail of lives and souls touched through the characters she portrayed, the stories she worked on, and in person eye to eye. She's hardly the only one to die relatively young. It... Continue Reading →

Little Observations…

...are a big part of being a science fiction writer. Of being a writer in general, really. Some nonfiction writers might be exceptions -- a writer of specialized technical texts, maybe, for example -- but even most nonfiction writers are doing the same thing that fiction writers and poets are doing: writing things that are... Continue Reading →

THE CRAYFISH — Microfiction!

  Here's a little bit of microfiction for you to enjoy. As happens often in fiction, it's based on a real place and a real experience. I'll leave you to decide which parts are fiction and which are not. The Crayfish Copyright 2015 S.A. Barton      The eighteen-wheelers roar by above; the bridge over... Continue Reading →

Too Much Information: Why Writers Should Conceal Their Research

This is great advice for the writer who is serious about his or her research or expertise — I’m reminded of Heinlein describing buying a roll of butcher paper and covering it with equations to figure out how to describe a ship’s orbit for “Starship Troopers”, and then merely describing the scene. No mention of math, no explanation of ballistics appears in the text. He just wanted to know how the scene should look, then described the scene to his readers.

I see oversharing extend beyond technical matters as well. I’ve seen writers spend a whole page describing what a character is wearing in detail, jarringly out-of-place sentences informing us of the exact height and weight of (usually beefy combatant male or slinky sex-kitten female trope stereotype) characters, loving in-detail descriptions of weaponry, vehicles, and other gear.

While writing, it is easy to imagine the reader hanging on every word, admiring the clever stacked adjectives, enjoying the artful turn of phrase of the image as it is built.

Well, that’s not what’s happening. 99% of the readers are slapping palm to forehead and moaning, “who gives a shit what the thread count of the protagonist’s pocket square is, and how it’s folded? WHERE IS THE STORY I PAID FOR?”

Readers have imaginations. They want brief, evocative descriptions that help them build the scene in their own imaginations. They don’t want your grubby little literary fingers in their brains trying to micromanage their leisure reading.

Drew Chial

"I have to resist the compulsion to reference everyone of these" “I have to resist the compulsion to reference everyone of these”

A few years ago, someone approached me about adapting a thriller into a screenplay. Reading through the first few chapters, I wasn’t sure where the script should begin. The first scene involved an autopsy where the pathologist missed the symptoms of a biological agent. The author took us through each stage of the autopsy including each instrument the pathologist used, where he made his incisions, and the weight of every organ.

It was clear the author knew what he was talking about, but he wasn’t telling a story, he was teaching a lesson.

The scene had no conflict until the author told us about the crucial detail the pathologist missed. The prologue read like it was supposed to function as the opening stinger of a crime drama. This might have worked if the pathologist had struggled to find a cause…

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Aliens Are A Playground

I love building aliens.  I love what writer types call 'world building' in general.  Building strange creatures and settings is an exercise in raw imagination.  To me, making stuff like this up, as the title suggests, is play.   The catch, of course, to making up good aliens is that your reader needs to be... Continue Reading →

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