Writing Advice – Bernard Cornwell

Standard

Bernard Cornwell is one of the foremost writers of historical fiction. His fictional travels have taken me from the Anglo-Saxon period through to the Revolutionary War. He has a brilliant way of describing the battles and creates the vision in your mind so you feel as though you were there.

For a long time, I resisted reading his Winter King trilogy that focused on King Arthur. I have had my own image of Arthur’s world of Camelot and Excalibur since my five page high school paper on Thomas Malory’s L’Morte D’Arthur that went on for over fifteen pages. My teacher was not thrilled. In addition to that being ingrained in my head and heart, I also had the John Boorman Excalibur movie with Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren, and Nicol Williamson that I was attached to. When I eventually gave in to my friend’s persistent recommendation, I could not put The Winter King down and it is now my headcanon. The next two books were equally enthralling and I highly recommend them and every other one of Cornwell’s books.

I’ve read his only historical (non-fiction) book, Waterloo is also brilliant.

Here is some of his writing advice for you to enjoy and incorporate.

Writing Advice – Wil Wheaton

Standard

Wil Wheaton is one of my favorite writers, nay people. I don’t agree with everything he espouses, I don’t think anyone can agree with everything anyone espouses, but we’re on the same wavelength more often than not.

He is a writer’s writer. When he finds something that works, he doesn’t hoard or hide it; he shares it with the masses and he believes you can be a good writer too.

In this blog post, he shares the three books that have made him a better writer. I have read Stephen King’s On Writing, and have highly recommended it. I now have the two other books on my to-read list because Wil’s advice is usually spot on.

And while you’re taking his writing advice, read his work as well!

Writing Advice – Stephen King

Standard

Stephen King is one of the most prolific writers in the world. I’m embarrassed to admit that I have never read any of his fiction. Not one. I’ve also never seen the movies except part of Stand by Me. His genre of horror has never been something in my wheelhouse, but I did admire him as a writer and a person. I follow him on Twitter and he wrote a magnificent essay on JK Rowling for Time magazine.

The one book I did manage to acquire and read was his memoir/advice for writers book, On Writing. I found it engaging, brilliantly written and so beautifully in his voice. Writing this reminds me that I should re-read it just because.

Here are a few of his quotes that I feel drawn to: 

  • The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.
  • Let me say it again: You must not come lightly to the blank page.
  • You go where the story leads you
  • If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.

  • I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.

Stephen King’s Writing Toolbox is a strategy after my own heart. I love the idea of tools and toolboxes to get us through everyday life – that specialized item that is exactly what we need right at that moment in time.
Two Interviews with Stephen King

with The Independent (from 2017)

with The Atlantic (from 2013)

Everything is Fodder for Writing

Standard

Including arguing about whether the writiing is relevant to the non-writing and whether the argument about whether the writing is relevant to the non-writing is relevant fodder for a third party’s writing. Or none of those things.. 

This, posted at 6:17pm EST on the 15th of February, 2019 was the tweet heard ’round the world. At least the world of food blogs everywhere. Before historian Kevin M. Kruse tweeted this, innocence had hung over the Twitter world, that global place for the polite exchange of ideas, but after… after, the cacophony that some wanted to laugh at while others were weeping shook even the most innocent of bystanders.

I don’t know who I’m making fun of, although I include myself in that. Never have I felt the both sides of an issue as I did with this tweet and the responses that followed.

Having “enjoyed” Twitter since 2009, I laughed at the original tweet. Not a haha good one laugh, but a what have you done FTLOG laugh. I could see what was next a mile away and it didn’t take long for my foreknowledge to be realized.

I’m paraphrasing here, but the gist of it was mostly how fucking dare you?!?!

I saw this storm form quickly as the clouds darkened and the winds gathered. As I said, I can see both sides because I am both sides.

I’m a writer. I want people to read my writing and with most writing, every word has its place, its function. I want it all read.

I also blog about food, share recipes, and post food pics here and on Instagram. It’s one of my, let’s call it niches. 

I also search for recipes online.

There are days, like last week. In the middle of cooking dinner, our oven broke. I needed to finish baking the cornbread. I searched online and when I found a microwave recipe, I skipped over everything to get to the very end of the directions for how long to microwave it. It took a little longer than stated because our microwave is older and smaller than the average microwave available today.

Other times I read the narrative to get clues as to taste and texture; what needs to be followed perfectly; what can be tweaked.

And there are times when I post a recipe that I post a narrative alongside it. Some kind of how I discovered this or my daughter came up with this or some other family story or anecdote that I find relevant.

For Christmas, in fact, I wrote a ten recipe cookbook for my church’s food pantry/Christmas basket program. One of the most often compliments that I’ve received about the booklets was about the accompanying narrative that I included for some of the recipes. These included origins, where some were adapted from, links. Next time, I’ll add photos, but the narrative was received just as well as the recipe itself. In fact, one of the gentlemen who I’ve always thought of as dour, smiled, thanked me, and informed me that he sent copies to his two daughters. This was high praise indeed.

So while it would have been easy to be pulled into a Twitter fight between (favorite) historian and a band of incensed food bloggers, I stayed far away, but still checking in to see how both sides held up and where the argument would end. I mean, it is Twitter after all. I did leave one tweet, and I’m sure that I didn’t help anyone on either side.