Posts Tagged ‘writing’

What is it Good For? (Part II)

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

My colleague Jay Ridler has the second installment of his blog at Fearzone about the influence of war on horror fiction.  This segment focuses on WWII. Jay has a thorough knowledge of both horror and war, so it’s definitely worth a read.

New Web Space

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Space and Time magazine, which will be publishing my story “Ebb” later this year, has a spiffy new website that looks really cool. The publishers are really going all out to make the magazine look great, and I’m happy that my fiction will be a small part of it.

Also, the Odyssey Writing Workshop, which I attended four years ago, just recently started an Odyssey LiveJournal blog. It has updates on graduates’ sales and publications, links to new episodes of the Odyssey Workshop Podcasts that I edit, interviews with famous novelst grads like Carrie Vaughn, and lots more.

What Is It Good For? Horror.

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

My colleague Jay Ridler, with the ink drying on his PhD in War Studies, has started writing a non-fiction column at about horror outside the traditional definitions of that subgenre.  Jay knows a ton about horror, both in the genre and out, so this column should be great.

He also knows a ton about war. His innaugural column, the first of a two-parter, is about the influence that the horrors of 20th-century warfare in the two World Wars had on fiction. If you’re an armchair military historian like me, and you love gritty fiction about characters in horrible circumstances, definitely check it out.

Dialog at the Heart

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

In the January episode of the Odyssey Writing Workshop podcasts (I’m the Odyssey alum who who edits those podcasts from tapes of workshop lectures), award-winning author Nancy Kress, who’s written three brilliant how-to books on writing fiction, has a neat comment about dialog. She says that her stories did not sell until she started making dialog the heart of all her scenes–at least the scenes where characters were together and interacting.

Which is a really neat idea. Dialog is how real people interact, often with all sorts of layered subtext masking their true emotions. Dialog type and style also show a lot about characters’ backgrounds and attitudes. As Kress points out, dialog was the original element in all written fiction because all fiction used to be drama, stage plays, which are almost all dialog.

On New Year’s Eve, I went to see a regional production of Twelfth Night. I’ve read the play twice and have seen it produced many times over the years, but halfway through, I started thinking about Kress’s idea. The minor character of Fabian lounged silently through his entire first scene, seemingly unnecessary as Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek riposted back and forth. But Fabian had an important role in the next act helping Sir Toby develop his plan to embarrass Malvolio, through dialog.

The dialog let them settle on the details of their scheme, while also explaining it clearly to the audience. If it had been a prose narrative, all that information could’ve been communicated through internal monologue, but it wouldn’t have been near as interesting–or as dramatic. Fabian may have been window-dressing earlier, and several other characters were too at other points in the play, but he was indispensible there as a dialog foil.

So I got to thinking about Kress’s idea all over again. My stories come the most alive when there are multiple characters interacting, which I usually do through dialog. But other long stretches feature my protagonists alone. Perhaps I need to add more secondary characters, more Fabians, around them to get dramatization through dialog at the heart of my scenes.