I must warn you, my mind is a dangerous place. My friends have been hearing that since we were teenagers but it wasn’t until I started writing novels that they began to realize it was just a joke.
As a writer/author one question gets asked countless times. I has many different wordings, but it is the same question. “What lead you to write this story?” “What was going through your mind as you wrote this story?” “How did you come up with the idea for this story?” The wording doesn’t matter, it is the same question no matter how it is phrased. What they are really asking, even if they won’t admit it is “How can I (or my readers) write a story like this?”
Most author interviews I’ve read seems to indicate they become calloused from this question and toss out the same response no matter how it is phrased, like a politician with talking points. In the past I have been innocent and tried to actually answer the way it was phrased in a politically correct manner. Nobody wants to hear the honest answer. The honest answer is “You can’t because I certainly didn’t.”
Shocked? It’s true. I didn’t get a writing degree, create an outline, or follow any rules other than grammar and spelling. The character chose to tell its story. I wrote it down as best I could then fixed a few things. Quite honestly, if you wish to become a writer you just need to be adequate with spelling and grammar, able to hire professional editing and, most importantly, listen to the character.
If you are not a writer and reading this I fully understand if you are shaking your head. It defies what most people are told when they are young, but it is the truth. If you want to know how to be the kind of author who gets some good/great reviews on their work the honest answer is “you cannot be told.” There is no response or set of rules one can provide you with. There is no formula to creating something nobody has ever thought of before. There is no college course you can take or degree you can get which will make you an author who gets good/great reviews no matter what admissions tells you when you are handing over your money.
You can learn all you need to know by reading two short stories in a single book. The book is Skeleton Crew. The first short story to read out of it is Ballad of the Flexible Bullet. This simple tale explains in detail what the mind of a writer is really like and where stories really come from. If you don’t believe that after reading it then either switch to non-fiction writing or choose a new line of work.
The second story you need to read (and in this order) is Word Processor of the Gods. This one story tells you everything you need to know about every story you will ever write. Your mind and story are both free to travel as far as they wish if and only if they keep a tether to that subset of things which define humanity.
Fornit Some Fornus
“John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars” is one big interview. It is a transcript of a dialogue between “John Smith” (who, as the title of the book implies is the last known survivor of the Microsoft wars) and the interviewer for a prominent news organization.
Genre – Dystopian Fiction
Rating – PG
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