Tag Archives: The Art of Writing

‘Jules Verne vs. Stephen King’ (2013)

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I know some of you don’t like Jules Verne, but I do. His 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea captivated me as a little boy and continues to be one of my all-time favorite novels.

I thought Stephen King was great, too, back in the 1970s. But I find it a trial to read him now. What’s the difference between these two authors?

https://leeduigon.com/2013/09/07/jules-verne-vs-stephen-king/

I do get awful tired of Stephen King’s “the college guy is the real man–not those blue-collar oafs” schtick. Whatever made him put that into every book he ever wrote, like, dude–I don’t care.


‘How One of My Characters Grew: Old Uduqu’

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Two years after I wrote this post, Uduqu’s still here, still pursuing his dream to be the first Abnak to write a book (or read one, for that matter).

https://leeduigon.com/2016/03/27/how-one-of-my-characters-grew-old-uduqu/

I can only speak for myself, but this is one of the most fun things about writing fiction: the way characters walk into the story for just a page or two, and the next thing you know, they stay! You should see what Redegger the vice boss gets up to in His Mercy Endureth Forever. And I knew no better than Lord Chutt what Zeriah was going to do after she was elected Judge of Obann.

I think the unexpected is a sign that you’ve made your characters real.


Finished!

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Two cold hands and two cigars later, I have finished writing His Mercy Endureth Forever. Now all I have to do is type up three whole legal pads’ worth of manuscript and send them to Susan, my editor. But I don’t need nice weather for that.

Now that I’ve actually written it, I can look back on the climax of this story and say, “Whoa!” It’ll knock your socks off. Usually the Lord gives me these in a single dazzling flash; but this time He had me grind it out, line by line. So it sort of snuck up on me.  But the end result will prove well worth the trouble–and may it be fruitful in His service.

Today is also Patty’s birthday, she feels much better than she felt yesterday, and please, everybody, keep those prayers coming.

Oh–and I phoned Linda’s daughter, Lyn, to tell her about the book. I know Linda would have been pleased by its completion. Maybe they’ll have it up in Heaven.


One More Day…

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It’s not raining. The church across the street has finished running its gigantic sidewalk vacuum cleaner–which makes enough noise to cause this apartment building to shake–up and down the sidewalk. It’s cold, though. Cold enough so that the ink is shy and slow, coming out of the pen.

Avanti! On goes the sweater, the hat, the winter coat and hood, and out the door I go, to try and write the last chapter of His Mercy Endureth Forever. 

Yeah, yeah, it’s sort of an eccentricity, to insist on writing all my fiction outdoors. But I can’t help it–I need my sky. I need my birds, my trees… and my cigar. All of those things help me concentrate.

The sun’s out, but the forecast is for yet more rain tomorrow.

Please, Lord, help me to finish this job; and may my work be fruitful in your service.


I Got My Start with a Vampire Story

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This was my first published novel, Lifeblood, vintage 1988. Heidi asked how I made the jump from horror to Christian novels.

Well, first off, it took 20 years. There was a horror boom in the 1980s, and I was part of it. When it turned into a horror bust in the 1990s, I was part of that, too. I wrote a lot of books after that, but none ever got published. It really wasn’t looking like I would ever be published again.

I had four horror novels published. I wrote them in hopes of becoming rich and famous, for my own aggrandizement. Serving God never crossed my mind.

In a radio interview a few years ago, Kevin Swanson asked me, “So what woke you up?” And I answered, “Believe it or not, Bill Clinton! Suddenly we had a president doing sex with an intern in the Oval Office, going all Charlie High school smart guy on us by saying ‘It depends on what is is,’ and getting away with it–and all these people saying ‘Oh, it’s only sex, and lying about sex, and everybody does it, no big deal.'”  It became obvious that our culture had slipped a few big notches downward while I wasn’t looking. Did I want to live in a country where it really was okay for the president to be doing interns in the Oval Office? I could hardly recognize it as the America that was supposed to be my home.

Fear sent me running back to the Bible, back to prayer. I started writing quasi-journalistic pieces for several Christian, pro-family organizations and eventually caught on with the Chalcedon Foundation (and I’m happy to say I’m still there!).

Chalcedon publishes books on theology; but a few years ago, someone wondered if it might not be a good idea if we published a novel or two. And my editor, Susan, said, “But we already have a novelist!” Meaning me.

And it just so happened that I had only recently had a dream featuring a high mountain with the sound of a bell somewhere in the air. It was a very haunting image, and it became the seed of Bell Mountain.

God keeps giving me these novels to write in His service–twelve of them, so far. As long as He keeps giving them, I’ll keep writing them. This is the work I love best, and may it be fruitful to Christ’s Kingdom.


How I Fell in Love with Fantasy

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Someone around here was enthused enough to prefer my books to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Well, what can I say?

I first read The Lord of the Rings in high school, and it overwhelmed me. My imagination was already on fire, thanks to Edgar Rice Burroughs–first his Pellucidar novels, and then his tales of adventure on Mars. But Tolkien–!

I was astonished that such a book could ever have been written. Burroughs’ books are short; Tolkien’s was a monumental trilogy. You wind up spending a lot of time in it. The marvelous thing about The Lord of the Rings was that it positively came alive for me: it made me believe in the story that it told. Perhaps it was the mass of detail: Tolkien’s imaginary world is vast. To this day, after many re-readings, I’m sure I could find my way around the Shire, and I’m sure I’d like it there. And I’d know which places to avoid–Mordor, Mirkwood, and the Mines of Moria.

I’ve never seen any illustrations of LOTR which satisfied me. That’s because Tolkien’s art made his people and places real to me, as if I’d actually been there, seen them; and any illustration is, of course, someone else’s imagination, and can never show me anything exactly how I’d already imagined it myself.

It gave me a burning desire to write fantasy. I can’t even guess how many pages I turned out in notebooks, and on my old manual typewriter, trying to imitate Tolkien, trying to match him. But I can say it took several decades for me to realize that the world didn’t need another Tolkien: any fantasies I wrote would have to be my fantasies, and no one else’s. And that took another couple of decades to accomplish.

It’s important to remember that when LOTR came out, there was nothing else remotely like it. Since then, the fantasy genre has been suffocated with Tolkien wannabes, shamelessly ripping off his once-upon-a-time unique creation. I still love Tolkien’s Elves and Dwarves and warriors, etc., but find everybody else’s cheap imitations intolerable. I suspect that if my first reading had been now instead of then, it wouldn’t have had the impact that it did.

Burroughs and Tolkien inspired me, and I doubt my own books would ever have been written if I hadn’t read theirs first. I still stand up and salute The Chessmen of Mars, and in my imagination, search for the road to the forest of Lothlorien.


Climax! Hooray!

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It hasn’t started raining yet, so I went outside and cranked out eight more pages of manuscript–and wrote the climax of His Mercy Endureth Forever. And anybody who saw this climax coming, my hat is off to you, big-time, because I didn’t see it until yesterday.

One more chapter, and that’s that. And then I have three whole legal pads’ worth of manuscript to type up and send to Susan, my editor.

Due to an awful lot of nasty weather, it was a real struggle for me to get this work done. But Lord Orth was right: God gave me what I needed to finish the job. To God be the glory, and may my work be fruitful in His service.

Still waiting for Kirk DouPonce’s cover art for Bell Mountain No. 11, The Temptation.

P.S.–Another hat-tip to the Ice Age cave hyena, pictured above, which plays a notable part in this story.


I See My Way Clear!

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Well, Lord Orth was right. As of today, I see my way clear to the last page of His Mercy Endureth Forever. All I need is a few more decent, sunny days in which to write it. But of course rain is forecast for the weekend.

Usually the Lord gives me the climax of a book in a dazzling flash; but if you’ve been following these updates, you know He didn’t do that, this time. I had to keep chipping away at the big block of marble until, almost without my perceiving it, the statue emerged.

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for artist Kirk DouPonce’s sketch for the cover of Bell Mountain No. 11, The Temptation. When I get it, I’ll try to post it here as a kind of sneak preview–if I can manage the technology.

Well, heck, I just successfully installed the new toilet flapper, didn’t I?

 


Well, I’ve Got the Last Page, at Least!

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Well, I now know the last page of His Mercy Endureth Forever, the last stop on the journey. Usually the Lord gives it to me in a burst, but this time He slowly pulled me into it. Like, I had the idea before I realized it was the idea I’d been looking for. I can’t honestly say when that realization came to me. It came quietly. I think it must have been yesterday sometime–that, or during my last night’s sleep.

Now I’ve got to get there, to that last stop on the journey. There are still a few points in the story that demand to be settled. I think I need to do it in about 20-25 more pages. I hope to accomplish it next week.

And yes, I will leave plot threads that will permit me to connect to a new book next spring. God willing.


With My Last Ounce of Oomph…

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Actually, I think I lost that ounce this afternoon.

But it’s come down to this: I’m pretty sure I’d better finish writing His Mercy Endureth Forever by the end of next week, or it’ll just be too cold outside to write anything. And indoors it’s nuisance phone calls all day and other distractions.

I’ve pushed myself hard this week: and again the weird sensation of being pulled along by the story. Like when you hook into a really big fish at night and it starts towing your rowboat away like the anchor wasn’t there at all. The last time we had that experience, the fish’s head finally came up out of the water and it proved to be a large shark.

I still don’t know what I’m going to see when this book’s climax comes up out of the dark water. I just pray it happens sometime in the next twenty or thirty pages of manuscript.


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