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Poirot is back

Was back. For a very short run of two new episodes on PBS’s Masterpiece Mysteries, last Sunday and the Sunday before. The episodes were based on Agatha Christie’s novels “Cat Among the Pigeons” and “Mrs. McGinty’s Dead,” and both were filmed and acted as stylishly as the episodes of the previous eight Poirot series that [...]

We get mail

In Friday’s post – last week – reader James O’Keefe said, “Don’t be too hard on stupid titles. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND is such a classic nobody cares what a stupid title it is.” About which I asked, “Incidentally, what are/were the first and second kinds of close encounters?” That ginned up the [...]

We get mail

Not much because this blog is so new and it has, what, 9 readers. Maybe 10. James O’Keefe is one of this modest number. He replied to my series of posts on odd and bad titles with this: “Don’t be too hard on stupid titles. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND is such a classic [...]

A scene in need of a character

This isn’t exactly rewriting, yet it is. I’m writing what in Japan is called a thumb novel – it’s designed to be read on a cellphone screen – and, by golly, the book is shaping up to be a thriller. Over three chapters, a hired killer chases our hero through the state capitol. It’s after [...]

Part 2: Are you an outliner?

I’ve been in a writers group long enough that I no longer tell new writers whether they should outline or write out of inspiration. And they all ask. Didn’t you when you started out? Be honest. Of course, you did. The truth is you and I had to find what works for us. Here’s what [...]

Are you an outliner?

If you are, you’re in good company. Of course, if you don’t outline your novels, you’re also in good company. Here are three who do: Michael Black, author of Windy City Knights and a half-dozen other crime novels including two he’s written with partners: “Oh, yeah, I outline. I have to know where my story [...]

Writing with a partner

Most of us don’t. It’s too hard for us to comprise, and writing partners have to do a lot of that or one ends up murdering the other, either for real or mentally. Stan Trollip and Michael Sears make writing together work. They brought out their second bestseller in June, The Second Death of Goodluck [...]

Part 5: How short can you write?

Bruce Holland Rogers is the master of the short short short story. And he’s prolific. Turns out three a month that he sells to 700-plus subscribers in far-flung corners of the world. Want to check him out? Here’s a link. The 69-word story is one form of short short short that Bruce particularly likes. Our [...]

Part 4: How short can you write?

American writer/performer Barry Yourgrau has experience writing cellphone fiction – short stories – for young Japanese readers. His collection has gotten 100,000 hits, although the book that came later was a sales bust. Yourgrau wrote about thumb novels, as cellphone fiction is called in Japan, and what he learned from his experience of trying to [...]

Part 3: How short can you write?

Dana Goodyear last year wrote about the cellphone phenomenon in Japan. The story appeared in the December 22 issue of The New Yorker. Here’s an excerpt: “For young Japanese, and especially for girls, cell phones – sophisticated, cheap, and, for the past decade, capable of connecting to the Internet – have filled the gap. A [...]