Setting the Scene

The Golden Skull: Rick Brant # 10 by Blaine, John: Very Good - Hard Cover  (1954) First Edition. | John Thompson

My allergies are annihilating me today. Maybe if I sit outside with a cigar and read The Golden Skull, I’ll find some relief–or at least the illusion thereof.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read this book since I was a boy. I started re-reading it yesterday–and the author’s ability to set the scene just blew me away! He wants you to imagine you’re in the Philippines, and so he puts you there. Effortlessly! Without slowing down the story, without any sense of padding, he smoothly introduces one detail after another… and next thing you know… you’re there.

This is technique of a very high order. Few storytellers can match it.

“John Blaine” was a pseudonym for Hal Goodwin, whose “Rick Brant science adventure” stories helped light up my childhood. And I still admire them today.

If you want to write novels, you can learn a lot from these books. I stand in awe of Goodwin’s ability to seamlessly insert details of the scene into the plot. His book is like a smoothly-running conveyor belt.

I keep on studying these. I learn from my favorite authors. That’s where the learning is.

8 comments on “Setting the Scene

  1. This is a true talent. I’ve read authors that could paint mental pictures effectively, and many others that cannot. I know that I can see the scenes in your novels.

    1. I’ve loved “The Golden Skull” for most of my life, and only now am coming to appreciate how skillfully it’s written.

  2. The Rick Brant Science-Adventure Series, is one author and books I have not read. But sound like books I should read. I am sure I could learn a lot about writing from them.

    Yeah, I imagine I’m in the Philippines, I can almost hear the roosters crowing 24/7…wait, I am in the Philippines, and yes, those are real roosters I hear all day and all night. Don’t be fooled, they do not just crow in the morning. And most families have a few. I am literally surrounded by those who own a few. If I had to guess, I would say, within a stone’s throw, there must be at least 50, probably more. Barbequed rooster sounds better and better as the days go by. I better start today, or I will never get them all.

    1. Goodwin set two of his Rick Brant novels in the Philippines. I think he was very fond of the country (“The Pirates of Shan” is set on Mindanao).

  3. That’s where I live. Real gold treasure from WWII has been found here, not far from where I live. Also, not far from us, in the Agusan Marsh, lived the largest saltwater crocodile ever captured “Lo Long.” There are stories that even bigger ones make their home in the marsh. I believe it was National Geographic, that did a story of his capture. I watched it here. We went to visit the beast when it was still alive.

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