My novel, The Wistful and the Good, begins serializing on Substack tomorrow, November 27. You will be able to read the first chapter at https://gmbaker.substack.com/p/wag1 and you can subscribe to receive a new chapter by email each week. Besides the novel, I am also serializing a series of backgrounder posts discussing the historical background and literary issued behind the novel. (But feel free just to read the novel!) There is an index of both the novel and the background posts here.
Category: Writing Page 1 of 2
Posts on writing.
Sunday, May 7, 2018, Amarillo to Las Vegas, New Mexico
Today’s theme ranges from the tackiness of a deliberate art installation to the truly enchanting highway overpasses of New Mexico. In New Mexico, it seems, it matters what things look like. In Texas, not so much.
One of the trickier things about historical fiction is trying to make the language, particularly the dialogue, sound like it belongs to its period while still being easy enough to read for a modern reader. For fairly recent times, this is not much of a problem. The biggest difficulty in writing a story set in the 20th century is probably dealing with words that were perfectly ordinary then and are considered slurs or otherwise offensive now. But go further back and the problem becomes more complex. Go back to the Anglo-Saxons, as I do, and it becomes quite a head scratcher.
Which point of view produces the greatest intimacy between the reader and the character? Watching this debate between two writing friends led me to ask what they meant by intimacy. I propose (invoking the liberty of blogging) that there are at least three modes of intimacy between reader and character: avatar, friend, and shrink. There may be more, but these will do for now.
Really pleased to say that my first novel has been accepted for publication by Chrism Press and will see the light of day toward the end of 2021.
The publication contract with Chrism Press has been cancelled. There is many a slip twixt cup and lip. The Rules of Trade will find its way into the world by another route.
The Rules of Trade (The Peaceweaver, Book One), is an historical novel set in eighth-century Northumbria, just weeks after the great Viking raid on the rich monastery of Lindisfarne, which was the 9-11 of the Anglo Saxon world.
Writers sometimes worry about overthinking their writing. They should be more worried about under-imagining it.
One should always prefer the active voice over the passive, they tell us. Baloney. Active and passive are technical grammatical terms that have nothing to do with how active or passive your writing is. The distinction between the two forms actually has to do with whether the focus of your statement is the actor or the recipient of the action, the doer or the done-to. Sometimes the doer is more important than the done-to. Sometimes it is the other way round.
I am puzzled by how imprecise writers sometimes are when they talk about their craft. If any craft should be precise and lucid in the description of what it does, it should be writing. But it’s not. A case in point: the distinction between “present tense” and “past tense” narratives.
The name of this blog, Stories All the Way Down, comes from a presentation I gave back in my days in corporate and technical communication. There is a tendency in those fields to debate if storytelling is a relevant or useful tool for business and technical communication. My contention was, and is, that all communication is stories, and that it is stories all the way down. Stories are made up of stories and references to stories. Language itself is made up of stories and references to stories.
The formulation “stories all the way down” is a reference to that well known story whose punchline is “It’s turtles all the way down.” — as in the world stands on the back of a turtle, which stands on the back of another turtle, and so on all the way down.