Writing advice: believability, and the Darwinism of writing

I’ve been a bit lax on posting up useful bits of fiction writing advice – largely due to being busy as all hell trying to scrape up some paid work writing non-fiction, as it happens – but a couple of doozies were sat in the feed reader that I thought were worth sharing.

First off, Luc Reid (who certainly seems to know his writerly onions) has a post on writing believeable fiction:

“Of course, if the reader just wants a good story and isn’t in a critical mood, you can get a lot more by that reader with less work. Unfortunately, this is in the individual reader’s hands rather than the writer’s, so it’s best to write for the skeptical and unwilling reader, since the willing reader won’t be overly bothered by the detail.

However, there is one element of willingness over which you have control, which is how compelling your story is. If you introduce your pond scum creature in the midst of a tense scene in which it immediately becomes clear that the pond scum creature may be able to give your main character the name of his birth mother, the reader may care so much about the story that they will accept whatever they need to in order to continue seeing it unfold.”

That advice has to be useful to anyone writing any sort of genre fiction.

Elsewhere, the Slushmaster approaches a thorny issue in a humourous way, by making a metaphor between the writing life and Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest*’:

“Let’s use cavemen to illustrate some points, because cavemen are funny.  “Man next door has fire.  Me no need fire.  Me know what me doing.”  Translation: “I don’t need to read the submission guidelines.  I know what I’m doing.”  These are the writers who fail to put their stories in the proper fonts, fail to enclose their SAE, or stamps, or IRCs, send fantasy stories to science fiction markets, send poetry to markets that publish strictly fiction, etc.  If there are better methods of hunting/gathering you can easily learn, use them.”


[* Yeah, I know, ‘Darwinism’ and ‘survival of the fittest’ aren’t really the same thing … but we both got the point he was making, right?]

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