The craft of writing – my top picks

I’m on vacation in Spain. Near Cartagena, to be precise. The weather is fine, and the sea pleasantly refreshing. A couple of hours ago I finished lunch. I had gazpacho, fried cheese, bread, salad, and lomo. I concluded my meal with a couple of ripe and tasty plums. And washed everything with genereous amounts of sangria. Then I wrote a short story. It is more or less 900 words long. And I think I’m going to post it sometime during the next week. You know, I need to let it rest a bit, to clean it adequately. Instead, today I’m…

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Creativity and AI created art —will computers write the next generation of masterpieces?

While I believe that creativity will be perfectly explained one day. I also believe it will be far from being easy to be replicated artificially. I’m basing such a sweeping proclaim on a simple observation. That of AI and the way it has been implemented in chess programs up to now. In fact, although nowadays the best chess programs are so strong they can often beat even the strongest Grand Masters in the world—it all started with Deep Blue and Garry Kasparov’s match in 1997—these programs play in a way that is quite different from the style of any human…

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Story ideas, where do you get them?

In a way, it seems the problem of the origins tickles our consciousness as a species on countless levels. And, given how fascinating it is such a subject, understandably so. Usually, writers aren’t asked to tackle cosmic questions. Rather, they are asked over and over other kinds of ‘cosmic’ questions. Questions pertaining to the genesis of new ideas and stories. Where do you get your ideas from? How does an idea bloom into your mind? To such questions writers often come up with a lot of different answers. Some more articulated than others. Some more serious and thorough than others.…

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The most intriguing characteristics of a novel

Last week I wrote a post about the secret recipe for a bestseller. A recipe which, for a series of reasons, I don’t believe it can be found. Instead, in this post I’m going to list the features a book must possess to intrigue me. It’s not a secret recipe, far from it. It’s just me babbling about my likes and dislikes. A sort of case study on my reading habits. Unwilling heroes with a North Star Unwilling or reluctant heroes. You can call them like you wish. But for me this is how heroes should be to have a…

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Why I cannot live without books

Books make up an important part of my life. This is not just because I write. In fact, well before I ever tried to write anything, I was an avid reader. One of those people capable of staying at home on New Year’s Eve to finish a book they have just started reading. Because it seems promising. And the thrill of knowing how it all ends is as irresistible as Ulysses’ sirens’ song. In particular, I remember a New Year’s Eve of almost thirty years ago. The book I had just started was Red Dragon by Tomas Harris. And–you know…

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Why do writers write. Or rather, why do I write?

Money. We all know it can’t buy happiness. But, as Groucho Marx said, “it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.” And that’s something. Or not? In any case, on one thing we can all agree. If someone wants to become filthy rich and do that real fast, writing is not the way to go. Indeed, this should be immediately apparent if we stop a second and think about the time and effort even a single book requires. Besides, according to the Nielsen Book research for 2015 only a very small number of books (500) sold on average more…

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How do you get creative writing ideas?

Write a new post or perish trying. Today I feel like perishing. I want to write interesting things about creative writing and the creative process, but all I can think of are boxes full of sand. Boxes full of sand? And what are they for? That’s a good question. And the answer is I don’t know for sure. But I have the strong feeling they are like ideas. I mean on those rare occasions they are delivered, so to speak, right to my door. Perfectly formed new ideas. They look like a gift from heaven. But are they really such…

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Micro-tension – the secret ingredient of great fiction

There are many books devoted to creative writing. So many that if an aspiring author decided to read them all before ever putting pen to paper, he would die and be reborn a disturbingly high number of times before he could actually write a single word. Maybe–just maybe–if you firmly believe in reincarnation this is not necessarily a big deal. But for all other aspiring writers it undoubtedly is. Luckily, though creative writing is a complex and extremely nuanced subject, it also offers a notable perk. That’s to say you can try any technique, any style, any suggestion without having…

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Famous writers’ quotes about writing

Quotes are interesting. Quotes are fashionable. Famous writers’ quotes about writing are even cooler. But quotes are also prone to misinterpretation. Especially because they are often used without appropriate context. This may look like a minor detail. But it’s not. In fact, for example, if you know about writing techniques and what it means to tell the truth in creative writing, you can have decidedly different takes on the following Mark Twain’s quote than you would if you hadn’t any special interest about writing. If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything–Mark Twain In one case you…

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