The late Elmore Leonard suggested writers should leave out the parts that readers tend to skip. You could do worse than trying to model yourself after Leonard, who knew a few things about writing. My initial response to this advice, however, was to bristle and say, “Well, I don’t ever skip anything.” You see, I’ve […]Read more "The Parts Readers Skip: Too Much Description"
Nothing reveals character as much as dialogue. This applies in real-life as much as it does in fiction. I can hear your objection to this. Talk is cheap, you say? Actions speak louder than words. I understand your position on this. If a person’s actions are inconsistent with the words they speak, that still reveals […]Read more "I Like The Way You Talk (How Tarantino, Sorkin & Kevin Smith Won Me Over with Dialogue)"
This post has nothing at all to do with issue #600 of Action Comics, which was published in 1988 and celebrated 50 years of Superman history. Three additional decades have passed since then. Side note: there’s no traditional 80th anniversary gift, unless it’s a headstone or cremation urn. It’s not that this comic book wouldn’t […]Read more "Issue #600: All New! 80-page Giant Golden Anniversary Issue (or maybe I just put up my 600th post)"
This quote has often been misattributed to Hemingway, just as it is here. There’s no evidence that this piece of advice ever originated with Ernest Hemingway at all. According to Quote Investigator, the most likely source of the original quote was a novel by humorist Peter De Vries, Reuben, Reuben, written in 1964, three years […]Read more "Write Drunk, Edit Sober (good bad advice on how to tap your creativity like a keg)"
This post, at its heart, is an essay about developing ideas for writing projects. I’m no stranger to having ideas. Ideas are cheap. The implication that a good idea is all you need to write any work of fiction, from a short story to a multi-volumed series of books, is somewhat insulting. Especially to […]Read more "Idea Building (creative writing tips from Pencil Sketches, Modeling Clay and Fred Saberhagen)"
Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash When I was a young man, I was confused about what was meant by a “writer’s voice.” I was committing words to paper, not recording an outgoing message on an answering machine. How does “voice” figure into that? Over the years, I’ve come to recognize the authorial voice. You […]Read more "Finding Your Writer’s Voice"
Okay. Maybe the word “essential” is overused. But, this is a more efficient title than “Firewater’s Personal Recommendations of Books for Writers, Limited to 10 of His Nonfictional Favorites.” As with any list of things, your personal mileage may vary. Although I haven’t read every book about writing or every reference book ever published, I […]Read more "10-List: Essential Books for Writers"
I have no fewer than twelve posts that I’ve been planning to write (not counting all of the Star Trek: TOS episodes I’ve already watched and not written about yet), so I can’t blame lack of ideas for my sudden writer’s block. Or lack of time, really. I have as much time as I ever […]Read more "Hitting a Wall (finding excuses to not write)"
In speculative fiction, I’m usually drawn to time travel stories. Such stories spark my imagination, whether in movies, books, comics or television. Who hasn’t wished, at least idly, that they could go back and do something differently, or, alternately, go forward to see what lies ahead? I recently watched the Star Trek: TNG two-parter “Time’s […]Read more "Time Travel Stories (a couple of quibbles)"
The subtitle of this post came from one of Ellison’s many quotes: “I usually say I write for the smartest, cleverest, wittiest audience I know, and that’s me.” A lot of things could be said about Harlan Ellison, and I said a few of them in an earlier post. But, whether he’s hated or revered, […]Read more "Harlan Ellison (1934-2018): The Smartest, Cleverest, Wittiest Audience He Knew"