My first blog, These Islands, was five years old last month. Though it’s not exactly my first blog — I had a couple of false starts which are best not mentioned here. In any case, this anniversary seems a good time to consider why I still blog.
I wrote a post about Arnold Bennett’s book, How To Become an Author, a few months ago, As I said then, Bennett, though little read nowadays, was one of the most commercially successful authors of his time.
Blake Crouch’s 2016 novel Dark Matter is a page-turner, no doubt about it. It’s the first novel I’ve read that uses the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics as a plot device. This is a tricky matter to handle in fiction.
I haven’t read a ton of writing manuals (it shows, Ed.), but I have a small shelf’s worth at home, and I’m always on the look-out for something that doesn’t go over the same old ground of adverbs (bad), showing not telling (good), and inciting incidents (necessary).
Anyone who admires Patricia Highsmith’s fiction will forgive her this fondness for the ‘almost incredible’ and will find these coincidences perfectly believable in the settings and atmospheres she conjures. Coincidences are stitched into the fabric of life and we have all experienced them, though perhaps not as frequently and significantly as the inhabitants of fictional worlds.
A couple of novels I read recently got me thinking about character descriptions. From my own reading, admittedly a small sample size, I have the impression that fiction writers are making their character descriptions much more frugal than used to be the case.