The Reason The Great Escape Is My All-Time Favorite Movie

My all-time favorite movie is the classic World War II film The Great Escape (1963), with Steve McQueen, James Garner, and Richard Attenborough. How come? When you think about it, it’s really a strange war movie: hardly any violence, little action to speak of, and few references to the war itself. Yet every time I watch it, […]

What Do People Think of You When Reading Your Book?

What Do People Think of You When Reading Your Book?

In her wonderful book 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jane Smiley, commented that “readers don’t care what the author thinks.” She meant, of course, that readers don’t want the author to intrude himself and his own beliefs upon the story. Indeed, isn’t one of the cardinal rules of fiction that the author […]

Subtext: The Art of Iceberging

Sometimes the most powerful writing isn’t so much about what’s said as what isn’t said. If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as […]

the all-important link between theme and character progression

The All-Important Link Between Theme and Character Progression

Theme is a slippery concept. The prevailing wisdom among writers is that if you apply any deliberate force to your theme, you’ll end up with a heavy-handed Aesop’s fable. On the other hand, a story without a theme is shallow escapism at best and an unrealistic flop at worst. Theme is arguably the single most […]