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The Difference Between a Camera and a Person

Your main character is not a walking cameraThis post might anger some writers (especially MFA’s) but I’m going to put it up there anyway. I’ll begin by asking a question: “Don’t you hate it when you can’t tell the difference between the main character of a story and a walking videocamera?”

I know I do.

Let me clarify: I was reading a literary short story the other day that had been published in a well-known literary journal and was now being included in a “Best of” short story anthology (Best American Short Stories, you might as well know). I got so frustrated I almost threw the book across the room and then (like my dog, Duke, who is a bastard) pee’d on it.

“But Richard, why would you pee on Best American Short Stories? It represents the finest American short fiction being published today!”

As my British friend likes to say, “Piss on that. Wankers.” (more…)

How to Be Happy

Happy Fun TimeDon’t pull out your credit cards.

This isn’t going to be some sappy, self-help manifesto at the end of which you’ll have an opportunity to buy my book (you ALWAYS have the opportunity to buy my book…ha ha ha…)

No.

What this post will do is tell you the secret to being happy. Of course, different people have different ideas of what it means to be happy. Just ignore them for now and listen to me. OK?

Do I have your attention?

Let’s get to the point. Here’s the secret to being really, truly, gushingly happy for the rest of your life: (more…)

How to Write Good

As a relatively new blogger/self-publisher of novels, I’ve been reading a lot of articles about how to use the millions of social media platforms out there to promote yourself as an author and your books as…well, books. OK, I’m exaggerating when I say “millions” of social media platforms, but doesn’t it feel that way sometimes?

Social media sites have been such a major part of my life (since I started using Facebook in utero…hey, I’m not that old) that I even came up with an idea for a new social media site called ShoutOut where everyone connects to the same chat room, turns on their microphones, and starts shouting out stuff like “boooored,” “we totally support you Kim Kardashian” and “team edward all the way haterzzzzz.” Millions of people just shouting at each other about their innermost thoughts and perspectives on the world *eyes begin to overflow with tears* …someday.

But until I make a billion dollars from selling ShoutOut to Facebook so they can add even more ways to make insecure teenagers feel small, I will have to do what I can to improve my skills, because that’s what really matters. When I say “improve my skills” I mean writing, of course. That’s what I do. I’m a writer. Did you hear that? Let me shout it into my micro…wait, I haven’t invented ShoutOut yet….damn it.

Until I become a super rich social media player, here are some methods I’m going to use to improve my writing so that I can write books that are more good: (more…)

On Scaring Children

Image courtesy of eHow.com

If you can write stories that scare children, you’ve got it made. Children love to be scared. This applies, of course, to teenagers and adults. But teenagers and adults love to be scared in a different way; we love to read a book or watch a movie that gives us a thrill, makes us feel safe in the real world for at least a little while. As long as we’re not being chased by a burly man with a chainsaw, or haunted by the ghost of the maid that used to work here, or trapped in a basement by a family of neo-Nazi geneticists who are looking to use you in their experiments to breed a master race (I’m serious!) then everything is OK. (more…)

Where do writers get their ideas?

For most creative writers, the most frequent question you’ll hear is: “Where do you get your ideas?” This is especially true of prolific writers who can dash off an article or a blog post, or even a novel, with the rapidity of a Seth Godin or a Stephen King.

People ask this question for two reasons. First, the answer can say a lot of interesting things about the writer being asked. And second, non-writers don’t seem to understand the nature of the writer’s most important tool, and therefore feel compelled to solve the mystery.

(more…)

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