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Showing posts from February, 2012

Alcohol and Writing

What do Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, James Joyce, Dorothy Parker, Edgar Allen Poe, Silvia Plath, F Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, Raymond Chandler, O Henry, and John Cheever have in common? If you said they were all great writers then you would be correct. But they also share another commonality; they were all alcoholics.
Apparently there is a pattern between heavy drinking and heavy writing. None of the above mentioned, unfortunately, came to a happy ending. Hemingway and Plath took the easy way out while the rest died the painful wracking death of the abusive drinker with their yellow livers and minds of mush.
Still, one could conclude and equate libations with literary genius. I imagine to Joyce and his fellow Irishmen, a snort before a prepositional phrase was a necessity, but for the others perhaps it was just an innocent way to get the brain started and on its way to magnificent prose. Their problem was they didn't know when to stop.
To be honest, I sometimes have a…

For God's sake, don't write realistic dialogue

What's that you say oh negative Nelly? I said, don't write realistic dialogue, meaning have you ever listened to yourself talk? You "umm" and "uh" and "you know" and spout cliche after cliche. Write interesting and believable and memorable dialogue, otherwise the reader will tune you out faster than Michael Moore changes radio stations when Rush is on.
A good way to assure you'll never be published is to have lousy dialogue in your fiction. Believe me, I'm an expert at writing lousy dialogue. It's hard to write believable, memorable conversations though many successful authors manage to muddle through, ala Tom Clancy and his 700 page epics, 680 of which are filled with narrative. And then, on the opposite end of the spectrum, you have Elmore Leonard and Robert Parker who live and die by their dialogue quite well, thank you. Still, most new author's dialogue sucks.
Recently I attended a writers conference where Davis Bunn, a bestsel…