Monthly Archives: April 2012

Burning Buildings

These images speak to the need for looking at the usual in an unusual way. With writing, it’s finding a word, a phrase that upends the norm. That keeps you looking–or thinking. From The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht, for example: “He had a thin voice, and a doughy face that looked like it had been forcibly stuffed up into his hat…” Keeps us reading. And in the case of this post I’ve re-blogged, keeps us looking. These images haunt and howl.

Red Nails and Teacups

I hated Chemistry at school. Seeing things fizz (peanut in a bunsen burner, a chunk of liver in hydrochloric acid) was the only thing that piqued my interest long enough for me to raise my head from it’s horizontal station on top of my textbooks – even then, the theory and equations either side what ever our hapless teacher was combusting made me twitchy with frustration – and with the exception of clipping safety tongs to the Head of Science’s lab coat, I spent most of my science department hours paralysed with boredom. Still, some of those demonstrations at the front of the class must have remained buried in my head, because Australian artist Jennifer Mehigan‘s work, reminded me , amongst other things, of the multicoloured flashes you get if you through pure sodium in a flame (a point: I have both tried this over my gas stove unintentionally…

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I’m re-posting an article from today’s NYT. It’s always nice to get a little verb refresher lest we get sloppy or lazy in our delivery.

Make-or-Break Verbs by Constance Hale

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Noir Characterization

Although David Brooks is targeting his advice to young do-gooders in his column linked below, he does an excellent job of analyzing “noir literature heroes”  in the second half. Definitely worth a read.

Sam Spade at Starbucks

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Four of Everything!

I love the idea of four! Four elements in nature, the four humors of old, four score and seven years ago, my doggie has four legs.When developing a piece of writing, a writer might consider four aspects that come into play, at the onset or eventually.

  • AudienceWho is the audience for the material?
  • ConceptWhat is the vision of the piece, its message?
  • FormHow is the message of the piece presented? As a poem, in novel form? Furthermore, within the larger categories of form, what specific genre and styles are used?
  • FormatIf published or presented, what is the packaging? Hard-cover printed book, e-book, online post, etc.


A writer may decide the first aspect to which she relates is concept, asking herself what is the truth she’s seeking and message she’s delivering in creating a piece. For an editor, or from a publisher’s standpoint, the paramount question is, practically, about audience. Who’s going to buy the thing so we can all get paid? Continue reading


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Sentence Alert!

I love it when a sentence takes you down unexpected paths past unexpected places:

“…I let myself sink into poverty, in a manner that was deliberate, rigorous and not altogether devoid of elegance.” from Monsieur Pain by Roberto Bolano, translated by Chris Andrews

Why is this sentence effective? When I think of characters falling into poverty, it usually isn’t self-inflicted (at least not with purposeful intent), and it usually isn’t done with rigor or elegance. There’s so much here that’s out of the norm, it makes the character intensely interesting. I want to know more.

Very effective. Now, back to our regularly scheduled program…



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