Tag Archives: The Art of Writing

Stressful Dreams

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Did you ever have one of those dreams in which you’ve committed a murder and everybody’s chasing you? Note: the murder was already committed when the dream started, it’s a fait accompli and you’re just plain stuck with it.

I had one of those last night, with the unusual twist that I did not, in fact, commit the murder, I was innocent–but I was running around with the victim’s blood-stained clothing in my hands (highly incriminating!) and unsuccessfully trying to get rid of it. I was running through the woods and swamps, trying to find a hiding place, but I kept winding up in people’s  back yards in my old neighborhood.

File it away for use in a future book.

I think I need to be getting back to novel-writing soon. Like as soon as I get the idea for the next book. But if you’re gonna have vividly alarming dreams, you might as well try to get some use of them.

‘My Favorite Authors’ (2011)

Anytime you make a list, you always discover later that you should’ve added this or that, etc.

I try to learn more about the art of storytelling from every author that I read. My list really should have included Walter R. Brooks, Ross MacDonald, Ring Lardner, Sir Thomas Malory–and there I go again. Maybe I should just leave lists alone.

(Mark Twain, H.R.F. Keating, Eiji Yoshikawa [not showing off: I really do like him], Dorothy L. Sayres—now cut that out!)


‘Does It Matter if Christian Fiction is Badly Written?’ (2015)

There isn’t all that much “Christian fantasy” out there, so each badly-written book hurts the market that much more.

BTW, this wasn’t the first time I suggested turning Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son into a novel. Come to think of it, you could do that with any number of His parables. Only Jesus Our Lord, though, could pack so much meaning into so little space.


‘A Silly Name Can Ruin Your Fantasy Novel’ (2015)

I have to go to the nursing home today, and I’m running late–not that anyone will notice–but first this. It may provoke a chuckle or two. I mean, really, I can’t believe what this guy did when it was time to name the villains in his story…


‘How to Write a Really Rotten Novel’ (2015)

It’s true that some people have a natural gift for creating intolerably bad fiction. A few have made a fortune at it.

Anyway, there are all sorts of books and articles to tell you how to write good fiction, but next to no advice on how to write truly awful fiction. So maybe this will help.


‘My Search for a Not That Awful Fantasy’ (2012)

As soon who actually produces fantasy fiction for young readers, I’m always interested in what other writers are doing in this field–interested, and sometimes appalled. This is one of those times.


‘How to Write a Politically Correct Fantasy’ (2015)

Disregard, if you can, the fact that all leftism is fantasy, and imagine the soul-destroying tedium of trying to adapt it to fiction…


Shunning Movies Made by Immoral People

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People who know me know I love the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and they’re always surprised to find out I’ve never seen the Lord of the Rings movies. Well, I don’t want to give any of my time or any of my money to Ian MacKellan, an unrepentant homosexual who brags about defacing Bibles. He plays Gandalf. That’s something I like to forget when I read the books.

So I can appreciate what some of you are saying when you say you don’t want to watch movies made by immoral people. We all have a suspicion, though, that that would rule out most movies. If you’re looking for virtue, Hollywood is probably not the place to start.

I do try to avoid movies that I know have been made by really sleazy people. But it’s not always so simple. In fact, God sometimes uses really sleazy people to do His will on earth. Can good things be done by bad people? I think we must admit they can.

Here at Chez Leester, we have a Thanksgiving tradition of watching two movies in particular: on Friday, Godzilla vs. Megalon, and on Saturday, Miracle on 34th Street. The one movie completely takes my mind off the dreary and disturbing news that I’ve been covering all year. The second never fails to remind me that there are truths that don’t–ahem!–lend themselves to factual analysis.

I watch lots of movies, including ones in which grossly immoral people may have had a hand in making. My calling in this life is to tell stories. To do it well, I must consume stories–lots and lots of stories. There are readers who say that reading one of my books is like watching a movie. Well, you can’t even guess at the number of hours I’ve put into achieving that effect. And I couldn’t do it if I didn’t watch as many movies as I can.

Don’t get me wrong. There is sleaze that I will walk a mile to avoid. And I’ll walk at least half a mile to dodge chick flicks, Serious Mainstream Dramas About Sophisticated People With Painful Personal Problems That They Can’t Solve Because They’re Pinheads, crime movies in which every character is rotten to the core, and several other kinds.

Anyway, I think we can all be thankful that God doesn’t require us to be absolutely perfect before He can make use of us. Serving Him in any way we can is both a glory and a privilege, and even sinners get a crack at it. Who knows? It might be habit-forming.

‘How Not to Write Dialogue’ (2014)

Boy, there’s nothing that gut-shoots a novel like bad dialogue! I am sorry to say you find more of it in fantasy than in any other genre. For every “What’s it to ya?” tossed up by detective stories, fantasy can counter with a double dose of “I prithee, sweet prince, hast thou a big deal goin’ down?”


‘The Silver Trumpet’: Almost Ready

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If you’re wondering where I’ve been all afternoon, I’ve been right here at this computer, doing my part of the final edit of The Silver Trumpet. Our boss, Mark Rushdoony, hopes to publish it in January.

No one has ever published an error-free book, but at Chalcedon we come about as close to it as humanly possible. This will be my third time proofreading the book, and I’m only one of several proofreaders. Actually, it’s quite shocking when I discover–after the book is published!–a typo on a page.

Susan, my editor, had a rather complicated reaction to The Temptation. She’s worried about some of the characters’ welfare. Some of them are very definitely sailing into harm’s way. I pray that in the spring I’ll be ready to start writing the next installment of the story.

But first we’ve gotta get The Silver Trumpet into print!

At least the editing job takes my mind off WordPress.

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