How (un)Smart Should a Writer Be?

How unSmart 2

If you’ve been reading my deep travel tales, you’ll know how un-smart I am. Count the times I’ve been run down on the road less traveled! I was barely home from my travels in Africa and Asia when the gods pulled a U-turn and made roadkill of me yet again. I was filming in the […]

Who in their Right Mind Would Be a Writer?

a-m-boyle Struggling Writer

A writer buddy of mine phones up and tells me to meet him on the first tee in 45 minutes. Say no more. I love hanging out with writers. I love their lack of common sense, their desperation, their vulnerability, their implausibility. Their impossibility! Who in their right mind would be a writer? I especially […]

The Sense of an Ending


House of Cards, for example—the title says it all.  The collapse of the protagonist’s empire is not a matter of if but when.  Ambition is tragedy’s ally.  Desire is a set-up.  The world is a trap laid by (Satan, God, the fiction writer, you name it/her/him). Fiction can’t help but reveal secrets of the human […]

How to Make Your Story Come True

Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

When a drama rings true I want to cry.  I do, it’s true, I confess, I’m hopeless, when the story rings true I just can’t help it.  But in my defense let me put a finer point on this “ringing” business—I’m starting to say that the story has come true.  The protagonist has come true.  […]

What to Say to a Dying Man

Hemingway & Gellhorn

Hemingway and Gellhorn are American war correspondents dodging bullets in the Spanish Civil War.  Ernest Hemingway rushes to tend a fallen soldier, to speak to him as he dies.  We can’t hear what he is saying but whatever it is, it’s urgent. The scene is shot from Martha Gellhorn’s point of view.  Seeing how passionately […]

How Does Your Fiction Smell?


We were driving to our favourite deserted beach to decompress in the transcendental silence of seals intercepting salmon returning to their spawning grounds, when I asked my wife if she had ever read a novel in which the protagonist was following a scent, but unconsciously, not unlike those salmon.  In detective novels, of course, the […]

Misdirection: the wrong way is the right way

Henry Shukman, author

After 25 years you’d expect a writer to know what he’s doing.  How fiction works—got it.  Story mechanics—check.  Structure—wrote a book about it. And yet I cannot swear that I know what I’m doing.  A story’s purpose, for instance—I suspect that a story’s meaning lies beyond mechanics.  There’s something more sophisticated going on, I can […]

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