Behind the Story: “Queen and Country”

Lesson one on writing a spider story: Never write a spider story. Don’t do it. It’s been done. Since mythological times. Spider women. Tangled webs we weave. Innate fears and phobias. The built-in burdens alone will wrap poor writer you in literary silk. See what happens with spider stories? The metaphors have started already. Lesson […]

Music Speaks, No Mistake

In Twelfth Night Shakespeare dubbed music the food of love. Beethoven considered it a higher revelation than wisdom or philosophy. Nietzsche said without music, life would be a mistake. To him, and he wasn’t the sunniest of guys, music exalted the soul. Little wonder few topics get writers going–or even squabbling–like how music fits into […]

I Have No Idea if There Were Communist Go-Go Parties (or, Balancing Research with Creative License)

I have written Communist go-go dancers. Not in a comedy, either. Technically, they were recruits among honors-level university students, but they broke into go-go dancing as the Party’s party night deepened and the drinks mounted. The setting was early ’70s Budapest, and the Happiest Barracks in the Iron Curtain reveled in its post-crackdown decay. Our […]

Sentence First, Verdict Afterwards

‘Let the jury consider their verdict,’ the King said, for about the twentieth time that day. ‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first – verdict afterwards.’ ‘Stuff and nonsense!’ said Alice loudly. ‘The idea of having the sentence first!’ ‘Hold your tongue!’ said the Queen, turning purple. ‘I won’t!’ said Alice. ‘Off with her head!’ […]

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