Goldberg Variations

Long ago I wrote a paper for a music grad class comparing the two Glenn Gould recordings of the Goldberg Variations, written by J. S Bach. Nowadays I listen to the 1981 release once in a while through a sleep app on my phone. But it wasn’t until last night that I noticed the similarities between the Variations and my fiction writing exercise where I wrote the same scene with the same characters, the […]

Antihero: The Ambiguous Protagonist?

I’ve long been confused by the definition of “antihero”. My daughter uses the term to describe characters in movies but I’m never quite sure what she means. Wikipedia says: An antihero, or antiheroine, is a protagonist in a story who lacks conventional heroic qualities and attributes such as idealism, courage, and morality. Although antiheroes may sometimes do the right thing, it is not always for the right reasons, often acting […]

Writing Review: The Host, by Stephenie Meyer, and thoughts on dialog and action tags

I’ve only read a few chapters into The Host by Stephenie Meyer but I think I’m done. The opening chapters of SF can be a challenge because the reader needs to be acclimated to the world, but an operating room with excited students that seem irrelevant to the rest of the story isn’t the best choice. Following that with a memory from the host whose past the narrator is experiencing […]

The Writing Process

I thought it might be worthwhile to summarize my writing process. This is based on the two most recent stories but the process has been similar for many years. Envision a setting, situation, or character. Write a sentence. Write a second sentence Read what I’ve written Change a phrase Write a third sentence, extending the flow and increasing the breadth. Read. Correct a typo. Fix a shift in tense. Get […]

Reading Across Genres

I like to read across genres. Some years back I discovered Google’s list of best books of 2012 and I read them without paying attention to what the title might hint, reserving judgement as long as I could. The 2013 list wasn’t as good and that was the last I saw. Since then I haven’t found a reliable way of finding material across genres worth looking at. Recently I realized […]

Talking Heads

I just critiqued a short piece where some friends are driving home from a party, gossiping about others they just left. There is some description of the drive, but the piece was almost entirely talking heads. Worse than that, since we get no description of the speakers, they’re disembodied talking heads, without the fake smile and coifs of a newscaster to look at. Granted, the dialogue is what this story […]

Double Duty

I’ve been working and thinking a lot about various things related to writing. One is layering. By layering I mean multiple levels of meaning or connection so that there is more than one thread connecting every phrase to the plot, the setting, the personalities, or the themes. In other words, why describe the light as “clear and bright” when you can say “cutting through the darkness like a knife” if […]

Word frequency counter; an add-in for Word

I have to give a shout-out to this word frequency counter add-in for Word: http://gregmaxey.mvps.org/word_tip_pages/word_usage_and_frequency_report.html Word frequency is something I review when self-editing. Get a count of each word, decide which ones I’m overusing, do a search-and-replace-with-highlight in Word and it’s easy to read and consider options. Word will count words, but not give you a frequency. There are web sites that will do this, but you have to upload […]

Painting with Words

It’s been pointed out to me (and I’ve been subconsciously aware) that my writing over the past year or two has become more convoluted and laced with more (sometimes) challenging grammatical errors. A few factors: more complicated situations and characters desire to push my prose poetic licence But I’m beginning to think the biggest factor is that I’m writing and editing like an improvising painter. I decide that a situation […]

On Anecdotes

Here’s an anecdote: Late one rainy Saturday morning I caught the X9 bus going downtown. The front was full so I sat near the middle, on one of the long bench seats where your back is to the window and you face the opposite seat. I heard a woman’s voice from the rear. She was Filipino and I couldn’t tell if she was speaking English, but I did understand that […]