Writing Advice from Graeme Simsion

Writer of screenplays, short stories, novels and a couple of short plays, an occasional producer of films and formerly an IT specialist (data modeling), also founder of a business and IT consultancy, Graeme Simsion, the author of The Rosie Project, seems to be skilled in all the fields he is trying. He is therefore the right man to give us some writing tips. Continue reading Writing Advice from Graeme Simsion

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Kurt Vonnegut’s Eight Rules for Writing a Short Story

Kurt Vonnegut, one of the most influential writers of this century, passed down a simple list of rules for writing a short story, though I think they can be applied to longer narratives as well.

He did say that Flannery O’Connor broke all his rules except the first and that great writers tend to do that, but I believe his famous eight rules can provide a skeleton to writing fiction.

And I think that this is what’s really important in art. A foundation. Simply by reading or following rules, or by taking creative writing courses, but it’s also crucial for the artist to make his own decisions. The moment rules start feeling like a cage, you should escape. It’s like strolling through a garden and picking the flowers you like. If you absorb too much or if you simply follow rules (someone else is choosing what flowers you should pick), you’ll never develop a style of your own.

In a world of fixed rules, there’s no room for improvement. Or improvisation. Or evolution.

In today’s post, I’m going to analyze Vonnegut’s famous rules, most of which are common sense anyway. So let’s get started. Continue reading Kurt Vonnegut’s Eight Rules for Writing a Short Story

The Writer: Episode #4

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” J.D. Salinger

The Writer remembers the first time he read Dune by Frank Herbert. How he wanted to write something just as good. He spent a lot of time wishing he had written that novel, that he had come up with those ideas, that the universe invented by Herbert had belong to him instead.

He then proceeded to read other novels, other stories that made him wish he had written them into existence instead of their authors.

The stories he read had been written by people who had known him. Or so it seemed. People who had been through the same experiences, and used words so eloquently to express what resided in his soul.

But isn’t that what stories are all about? Isn’t that why we invented words?

So we can understand that there are others who feel the same way we do? That we are not alone? That our sorrows and joys have been experienced by someone else?

8 Bad Habits that Kill Your Creativity

“The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts the moment you get up and doesn’t stop until you get into the office.” – Robert Frost

We tend to put a lot of emphasis on intelligence. I.Q. tests are supposed to tell us what type of person we are, what jobs we’ll have, how successful we’ll be, or how much money we’ll make.

The truth is that when it comes to being highly successful, anything over an I.Q. of 120 is pretty much all the same. In some cases, having a genius level intelligence can even work against you.

That means that even if you’re no smarter than most people, you still have the potential to wield amazing creative powers.

So why are so few people highly creative?

Because there are certain bad habits that kill your creativity. And like all bad habits, they can be broken if you are willing to work at it.

Here are eight of the very worst bad habits that could be holding you back every day: Continue reading 8 Bad Habits that Kill Your Creativity

The Most Beautiful Book Covers Ever

When browsing for books in a bookstore (if you’re old school like me) or on the web, the cover is the first thing you see, and a beautifully designed cover can convince you to give it a chance.

Here are some the most beautiful book covers ever designed. Continue reading The Most Beautiful Book Covers Ever

The Strange Writing Habits of Famous Authors

People often believe that writing is all about inspiration, which is a sort of esoteric mambo jumbo. Some writers went as far as to develop strange habits, rituals almost, as if to persuade the muse.

Continue reading The Strange Writing Habits of Famous Authors

How to Be a Good Artist

“To be an artist you have to give up everything, including the desire to be a good artist.” – Jasper Johns

When I was seventeen years old, I kind of figured that I was better at writing than those around me. Had won a few competitions, and all my teachers were impressed by what I could write.

I wanted to be good. I wanted to be the best. I had the type of goals that one cannot utter out loud for fear of being locked away in a mental institution.

I liked to impress people, and then I would also impress myself.

I’d write short stories the day before a deadline. Soon, I became complacent. I thought that I was so good that I just had to stroll my fingers across a keyboard and magic would appear on my computer screen. Continue reading How to Be a Good Artist