Another Way to Write Badly

I just finished watching season 3 of Boardwalk Empire.  I rather liked the first two seasons.  It’s an era that interests me, I’ve always liked Steve Buscemi, and the writing seemed fairly intelligent.

I don’t know what happened this season.  All of a sudden, you start having an absurd body count.  And not just in the number of bodies, but they keep pulling the trick where character A appears to decide not to kill character B, then suddenly does.  You can only get away with that a couple of times before the viewer starts rolling his eyes and going, “Do the writers expect me to fall for that again?”  And you can only produce so many bodies before you get “The Dark Knight” effect of, “Oh, a fight.  Am I supposed to care what happens?”

Perhaps its Scorsese’s influence, I don’t know.  But, whatever, it was disappointing.  Violence needs to matter.  When there’s too much of it, it stops mattering.  When it stops mattering, it’s worse than morally questionable, it’s boring.


Happy New Year

2012 was a good year for me, hope it was for all of you as well.  May we all have a fun and productive 2013.  I’m staying in tonight and writing.  Why?  Because I like it.  How cool is that?  I try to remind myself, from time to time, how lucky I am to make a living doing what I love, and this is a good time for such reflections.

Okay, done reflecting now.  I’m over a third of way through Hawk, approaching the halfway point.    Back to the word mines.


New Stuff on the Site

Just want to point out that Corwin and Felix have been busy.  There is now a page of free download stuff (only two things on at at the moment), site rules, Quotables are back (want to automatically select and display a random one eventually) and the link to the policy on fanfic is now working.  Thanks, guys.  Also, a reminder that if you have questions or comments about a specific book, you can click on the link (under “Books”) and ask there.

I’ll say something obnoxious or inflammatory when I think of it.


What Christmas Means to Me

Sometimes, around Christmas, I recall a Slan Shack I lived in in the mid 80’s called Finagle’s Freehold, where, around this time of the year, we would bring the motorcycle in the living room, decorate it with tinsel and lights, and sing carols to it.  I’ve posted these before, so if this is old news to you, just skip it.  The rest of you, enjoy.


Jingle bike, jingle bike, sliding to a spill
Oh what fun it is to ride on a Triumph Bonneville,
Jingle bike, jingle bike, sliding to a spill.
Oh what fun it is to ride on a Triumph Bonneville!

..  Through the house we go, laughing at our ease
..  Bouncing down the stairs, with 750 CCs.
.. Lights on signals blink, making Christmas zoom
.. Oh what fun is wiping out, in the living room!

Jingle bike…


Oh Christmas bike, oh, Christmas bike, you’re leaking so much oil.
Oh Christmas bike, oh Christmas bike, my hardwood floors are spoiled.
From gleaming pipes, to handle bars
You’re here cuz there’s no room for cars.
Oh Christmas bike, oh, Christmas bike, you’re leaking so much oil.


Silent bike, holy bike, kickstand holding it upright.
Round yon Triumph with no room to ride.
House filling up with carbon monoxide.
Sleep in heavenly fu-umes,   Sleep in heavenly fumes.


Turn off the TV and computer, fa la la la la, la la la la!
See our happy Christmas scooter, fa la la la la, la la la la!
Lights and candles, green and red gear, fa la la la la, la la la la!
Don’t forget protective headgear, fa la la la la, la la la la!


Of Course Fiction is a Drug. Now . . .

In fact, it is many different sorts of drugs, producing many different effects, depending on the chemical one is consuming, and one’s own brain chemistry.  What produces euphoria in one, might produce heartbreak in another,  profound insights in a third, mere boredom in a fourth.

What all of these drugs have in common–or, at least, the subject of today’s sermon–is the time-release nature of the capsule the reader is consuming.  One might say that the reader is consuming words at a given rate; but more important is that the reader is consuming information.  Every sentence, every paragraph, every comma, is designed to control the flow of information to the reader.  And that sometimes means speeding it up, sometimes slowing it down.

Not long ago I had the insight that two of my favorite things to do as a writer are: to tell the reader things, and to not tell the reader things.  Let me expand on that a little.  When I say “tell the reader things” I mean, in particular, conveying information by the expedient of simply saying it.  “His name is Mark; he is a good friend and a jerk.”  When I speak of not telling the reader things, I mean giving the reader the information needed to form his own conclusions: “Adam spoke about Mark in notably uncomplimentary terms.  I couldn’t argue with anything he said, though it made me uncomfortable and a little sad.”

There are times for doing each of those, and one of the main factors to consider is: how fast am I dispensing information?  Am I in danger of making the reader irritated or impatient because he wants to run ahead of me?  Am I asking him to hold too much in his head without giving him time to process it all?”

Before this post gets too loaded with information long, I’ll just make one recommendation.  If you want to want to see the dispensing of information performed perfectly, delightfully, elegantly, go read Isle of the Dead by Roger Zelazny.

And that will do for now.