On Endings

Lately I’ve been trying to wrap up a story—without success—and every time I take another run at it, I think of something I read recently about endings, that good ones “shine a point of light on the writer’s best attempt at truth.”

I love that, because it’s how I envision endings. You direct a shiny, narrow beam of  light, or aim a long, sturdy arrow, at a pinpoint of a target. Summations, surprise twists, sudden epiphanies—these are not arrows or beams of light. Their scopes are too wide.  Continue reading “On Endings”

Whittling Words

A classic bit of advice in the book Elements of Style: Omit needless words.

But what constitutes needless? Ah, there’s the rub.

In Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, five lucky kids find golden tickets in their Wonka Bars, inviting them to tour Willy Wonka’s magical chocolate factory. Here’s a segment from the golden ticket:

Continue reading “Whittling Words”

Slings and Arrows

I’ve been walking at odd angles for the better part of a year. Back pain, the kind that gets worse with each step. So the day before Valentine’s Day, I had surgery to (hopefully) repair the issue.

We like to curse our problems: Why is this happening? I need this like a hole in the head! 

It’s fine to complain and kvetch, as long as you’re also trying to slant positive.

And there’s always an upside if you’re a writer (or anything else in the creative arts). Your problems give you good material. We don’t really want to hear about your sublime vacation where you ate seafood right out of the sea under a wondrous sunset of pink and purple. Truth is, we’d rather hear about your stomach bug or lost wallet or the person you thought was shadowing you with kidnap in mind. Continue reading “Slings and Arrows”