Tag Archives: The Art of Writing

I’ve Got It, I’ve Got It!

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I’m running late today, but you’ll soon see there’s an excellent reason for it.

I’ve been asking the Lord to give me the seed of the next Bell Mountain book. I don’t want to wind up trying to write it as the weather turns cold.

So after our grocery-shopping, I was sitting outside with my cigar, taking in the spring day, mentally compiling a list of characters in my books (it helps me remember who’s who); and I asked one more time for something, anything, that would get the next book started, ask and ye shall receive–

And I got it. Wham, bam–the opening scene of the book, and a symbol to tie the whole story together, however it shapes up. Completely out of the blue: nothing to do with any of the loose ends I left, purposely, dangling from the closing chapters of His Mercy Endureth Forever. Them I’ll get to, in good time.

Man, I’ll never get used to this, even though it’s happened so many times–like every time I wrote one of these books. God always surprises me.

I even got a working title: The Wind From Heaven.

Rejoice with me. I’ve got a big, big job ahead of me, it’ll stretch me pretty good; but it’s the work I love best, and I have no idea what I’ll encounter on this journey–surprises all the way. But with the Lord guiding me, wherever the story ought to go, I’ll tell it.

Oh–and you can bet I broke out my legal pad and wrote that scene. I’m on my way!


‘Journey to the Hangman’

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Do you enjoy a cracking good detective yarn, full of realistic, vivid characters in an exotic setting–I mean, real exotic?

The late Arthur Upfield’s chronicles of Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte are among the best mystery novels ever written; and the one I’ve just finished reading, Journey to the Hangman, is one of my favorites.

In a very small and close-knit town in the Australian Outback, a town not very far removed at all from its frontier past–we’re in the 1950s here, but the town of Daybreak doesn’t seem to have a single television set–Bony has to solve three murders, with every indication that another murder will be done if he doesn’t catch the killer fast.

Visiting Daybreak is like stepping a hundred years into the past. Indeed, Upfield so excelled at settings that we sometimes forget he was just as masterful at describing characters and bringing them to life.

And of course the centerpiece of all these novels is Bony himself, half-white, half-aborigine–a hunter who has never failed to catch his prey, because he knows that just a single failure would destroy him. When Upfield started writing these books in the 1940s, many white Australians viewed the aborigines as primitive savages: but Upfield delved into the riches of their ancient culture, and wrote of them with respect and admiration. In our own era of supercharged racial politics, Upfield can be read as a voice of sanity. I appreciate that.

Anyway, it’s a real poser of a mystery, and yet we almost don’t care because the place and the people are so fascinating. Upfield knew how to put you there–and only great writers are able to do that… again and again.


Where Wytt Came From

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See the little monkey on Tarzan’s shoulder? His name is Nkima, and he’s the biggest braggart in the jungle–which is kind of funny, because he’s mortally afraid of… everything.

He is also the inspiration for my character, Wytt–who is afraid of… nothing.

What?

People often ask me where my characters come from, and how they end up in my Bell Mountain novels. And if I had to guess, I’d guess that Wytt is probably my most popular character. A lot of readers have told me so. But where did Wytt come from?

If you know me, you know I’m a Tarzan fan. And Nkima is my favorite character in all the Tarzan books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I mean, he’s so full of it! And it’s all hot air. This amuses me: a trait that would be unbearable in a real human being is a lot of fun in Tarzan’s monkey sidekick.

As the Omah creatures began to take shape in my mind, I asked myself, “What would Nkima be like, if all his bluster and bravado were perfectly genuine?” What if he really were as brave and bold as he makes himself out to be? What would that look like, in a little character no bigger than a monkey or a squirrel?

And then I had him–Wytt, Jack and Ellayne’s self-appointed protector and guide, who takes on enemies many times his own size, and lets them have the rough side of his tongue while doing it–and gets away with it. This little tiny hero armed with a tiny stick chewed to a point, who’s always up for any challenge that confronts him. No job is too big for him.

Yeah, he’s kind of easy to like. If Wytt’s your guardian–baby, you are guarded, but good. And given the numerous perils in which Ellayne and Jack have found themselves, he’s been kept rather busy. He’s even had to save Martis once or twice: and Martis is a professional assassin who ought to be able to take care of himself. But some of the adventures are a bit dangerous even for him.

I’m sure Wytt will be up for the next book, whatever the adventure turns out to be.


‘Literary Crimes: Anachronisms’ (2016)

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Sorta like this King Tut cell phone…

Can a novel set in ancient times–antediluvian times, in fact–be ruined by having its characters frequently spout 21st-century Democrat cliches?

Uh… yeah. Even if it’s only me that thinks so.

https://leeduigon.com/2016/01/13/literary-crimes-anachronisms/

I keep saying “Christian fiction” has to be at least as good as, and preferably better than, ordinary secular fiction. But I read so much “Christian” stuff that isn’t, I’m beginning to think no one believes me.


How to Write My Column?

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I lost the whole morning to the eye doctor today, but I’ve still got to come up with a Newswithviews column for this week. Think, think, think!

I’d rather not write about the politics that everybody else is writing about: who needs me for that? So I go back over my blog posts for the past week or so, looking for a topic–usually looking for two or three topics that I can tie together.

It’s not as easy as it sounds.

How about… how about… a nationwide epidemic of boredom? I ran a post on that last week. And from there I can segue into the ongoing efforts by people who should know better to get the whole country stoned on marijuana. It seems a natural tie-in.

And now it’s quarter to two, and I’d better get busy.


‘Tarzan and the Leopard Men’… What?

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Gorgeous, beautiful, sunny day outside yesterday–and it found me without a book to write. In my defense, it had been raining four days in a row.

One of the things I’ve learned to do as a writer is to do whatever dadburned thing my instincts tell me to do, even if I can see no reason for it. Sometimes that’s how a new book gets started.

Yesterday and today my unerring writer’s instinct has been nagging me to re-read Tarzan and the Leopard Men. Why? Search me. As Tarzan books go, there’s nothing special about it. There is so clearly no reason for reading this, that there must be one, somewhere.

Looks like it’s going to rain soon, so let me fire up a cigar and get out there to start Tarzan and the Leopard Men. It does sound kind of zany, doesn’t it?

I promise to let you know if anything comes of it.


So Listen to the Webinar, Why Dontcha

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My wife has just listened to my 2016 “webinar” with Andrea Schwartz and pronounced it very interesting. She’s never wrong about things like that, so it’ll probably interest you, too, if you give it a chance. I posted it on this blog earlier this morning, so you can easily find it on the home page. If you’re reading this, you’re probably on the home page now. Funny how that works out.

I hope nobody minds if I don’t report on politics this weekend–which I will do, of course, if I think I have to. But only if I have to. I’m feeling just a bit used-up. I think I’d be the better for a nice cigar, followed by a movie. It’s raining, so I’ll need my umbrella.

I do enjoy doing interviews, but no one’s asked me to do one lately.


‘Here’s the Webinar! “Thoughts on Being a Writer”‘ (2016)

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I did this webinar with Andrea Schwartz for Chalcedon, so if you can stand the sound of my voice for 50 minutes, well, here you are!

https://leeduigon.com/2016/10/26/heres-the-webinar-thoughts-on-being-a-writer/

I’ve done a lot of interviews about my books, but this was the first time I’d ever talked with anyone who’d actually read them. That made it more fun.

Anyway, here I am. Enjoy the conversation.


Book Review: ‘Shards of Faith’ by Allison Reid

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I found myself, as I was reading, thinking, “I like this!” I still thought so by the time I’d finished it.

We know author Allison Reid as “Weavingword,” a friend of this blog, and Shards of Faith is a “companion book” to the three books of her Wind Rider Chronicles. Somewhere between a novella and a novel, with a length of some 45,000 words, Shards of Faith takes us back in time to events preceding the main story line. It’s sort of a side trip, focused on Broguean the Bard, who last appeared as a minor character in Book 3, Visions of Light and Shadow.

In Visions Broguean is middle-aged, an entertainer who makes the rounds of taverns, not someone whom most people would take seriously–except it becomes evident that he is hiding behind a carefully constructed facade, and has a secret. In Shards we find out what that secret is.

Broguean has revoked his monk’s vows and left the monastery–run by a corrupt and evil abbot, and a prior who goes on to become the chief villain in the trilogy so far–to become a bard and a heavy drinker. He has abandoned a heritage which seems too high for him: he believes himself to be unworthy of it.

But the leaders of the faithful clergy have not forgotten whom he really is, and wind up recruiting him as a secret agent in their battle against evil men aligned with dark supernatural forces; and the job turns out to be vastly more dangerous than any of them bargained for. In the course of his adventures, Broguean has to come to terms with the conflict between what he is and what he ought to be–and that’s what makes this book special.

Once upon a time an author would have included all this in the main body of the story, via flashbacks, dialogue, etc. That can get messy. The companion book is a way to impart this information without interrupting the flow of the main story. The only problem with it is that if you read it as a stand-alone book, you won’t be reading it in context.

Ms. Reid has come a long way in her mastery of characterization; meanwhile, as usual, her quasi-medieval setting is authentic and convincing. There’s still an awful lot we don’t know about the main story–like, for instance, why the bad guys are calling monsters into the world, what they hope to gain from its destruction–but we hope that will be remedied in the next installment or two.

I like stories in which ordinary, believable people–not superheroes!–are called upon to do extraordinary things: because they have to, there’s no getting out of it, and they make do with the resources that God provides for them, sustained by their faith in His Word. Need I mention that every heroic act in all of human history so far has been performed by a real person, not a superhero?

Even when you’ve got a hero on the scene, even when you’ve got King Arthur, he can’t accomplish much without the help of unnamed, unsung men and women who share his vision, fight for it, work for it, and sacrifice for it. There’s way too much fantasy whose authors don’t get this: but Allison Reid does.

 


My Newswithviews Column, April 18 (‘My New Book is Out’)

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Giant Ice Age hyenas–yeah, we’ve got them, too.

I hope you don’t mind me using this opportunity to talk up my book. Until I get invited to do it as a guest on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, this is about the most I can do in terms of publicity.

My New Book Is Out

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know there are times when writing up the nooze just grinds me down. I mean, really–the names of politicians’ lawyers? I believe in being well-informed, but that’s ridiculous.

If this is the first you’ve heard of any books of mine, or my Bell Mountain series of fantasy/adventure novels, and you want to know more–well, you’re already in the right place. Just click “Books” and find out everything you want to know.


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