Category: Writing & Reading

Bully

(How does a bully see the world?) “Judy,” my little sister calls to me from across the basement.  “Momma wants to know.  Do you want a sandwich?” I jump back from the basement window, which I’d been watching the backyard.  “Clara, don’t sneak up on me.”  I soften my tone and bite off the end…

Distance. Insight into Show, Don’t Tell

John Gardner in The Art of Fiction described a very useful addition to the discussion about point of view (POV). He called it distance. Distance is a measure of emotional nearness presented to the reader. Understanding distance gives more insight into the constraint that all writers know: “Show. Don’t tell.” Gardner focused on distance with…

Essay or Story

As a person interested in issues, sometimes I get a passion for a developing idea yet am unsure whether to express it as an essay or a story. Sometimes I write a critical essay, other times a short story. Why would I ever want to write a piece of fiction to lay out an idea…

Thomas Wolfe’s House

After Biltmore on Saturday, Kris and I went to downtown on Sunday. Thomas Wolfe’s childhood house in Asheville. He populated Look Homeward Angel with characters drawn from the boarding house his mother ran and the town he lived in. After it was published, he didn’t return for years, fearing the reaction the town had to…

Innocence

Irene, dark-haired and intelligent Mind pure, uncluttered by uncertainty Summer begun for her Passing Cylburn’s greenhouses God wouldn’t allow evil in her world Only the pure would dare approach her. Carl’s long strides along the path Relieved his stress No cutting father, no meek mother Past the rows of warm azaleas A world of beauty…

Deep in His Own Well

George Clark listed this stat of the day in his FB feed: a visitor views a picture for a median of 17 seconds in the NYC Met Museum of Art is 17 secs. I wouldn’t dispute that, but let me add this flash piece representing a long tail end. Originally published in the Mensa Bulletin…

Phil Never Loses

The other day, talking to Mark Gorkin who specializes in burn-out recovery and teamwork, I realized I too have a few stories that deal with work. Here’s one with a boss’s trait worth knowing about.   My boss, Phil, use to brag, “I’ve never lost an argument at work.  Whether it’s about which teams get…

Conspiracy Theorists and Excuse Mavens

Conspiracy theorists and excuse mavens come from the same folly, using low probability events to make up stories and draw their conclusions. Shakespeare caught it perfectly. He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument. All Hillary’s actions are subjected to the low probability interpretations to cast umbrage upon…

Dialog in Fiction

Dialog in Fiction I stumbled across a lode for creating realistic dialog in a surprising book. Before I get to that, let me just highlight some key elements that dialog in fiction must perform. Convey plot information Display the speaker’s attitude, background, and social strata Sound like people speak Create tension between the speaker’s goal…