Hi folks, welcome to the blog. A friend of mine and I were talking about what makes good books. We both agreed research, plotting, character study, revision -- so many things -- help in writing, but we also agree there is some alchemy going on in writing good books too. Proof positive, there are really poorly written books out there that grab the whole planet, and there some so wonderfully written books out that don't. Why is no one reading that wonderful writing, and why are they reading that poorly written story? What gives? A secret: writing is one thing, storytelling is another. As a reader, I'm all about the telling and herein is the alchemy.
This month I'm going to talk about the alchemy of some of the writers are my soul inspiration to become a writer. These writers are the ones that hooked me early, and I've never let go. First up is Robert Heinlein. Robert was a flawed writer. He got on his soapbox at times. He left entire plot threads untied. Sometimes he didn't exactly make sense. Some of his stories wrapped up entirely too quickly at times with no climax to speak of. You get it; he wasn't a perfect writer. So what enticed me to read most of his books multiple times.
Robert had ideas to tell -- big ideas about the future of humanity, our place in the universe, and what we might achieve if we are given half a chance. He also understood what it's like to be humdrum person who has been dealt a serious bad hand in life and yet is full of impossible longing and dreams. He understood passion and how that has the chance to improve our lives or utterly destroy us. He had a serious handle on what war is about and how it shapes us collectively and as individuals. He knew what meant to be a stranger in a strange land. He understood all these things and put them on a page. As a young reader, I was so hungry to know things. I had limited experience, raised up in a blue collar life. Many similar readers want to know things, but they struggle with the tone of academic books. High falutin' isn't the blue collar strong suit. Robert wrote to the plain folk. Yay!
Let me wrap up. One part of the alchemy is message. Do you have something important to say? If you can wrap that up in the vast landscape of a story that spans the galaxy, you might have something there. I hope that you think about the writers who have grabbed you. The alchemy they put on the page has profoundly affected you, and you would do yourself a favor to take note. Then think about this: What lights your world? What do you know that might benefit humanity? What injustice do really have something to say about? Put that in your books.
Come back next week for more soul inspiration. Meanwhile, let us conjure up incredible books of our own.
No doodles this week. The interweb is being persnickety.
You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once. Robert Heinlein.