friday diary

The other day I found myself working on the introduction of a new and, I hope, terrifying villain into a story. But the problem was figuring what he was going to say. Villains of this sort come on stage eying the scenery hungrily. I had to get the opening line right for the rest of the scene to follow with props unchewed.

So, as is my wont, I grabbed my notebook and started scribbling possible opening lines—some were threats, some passive aggressive, some hopelessly erudite, some tooth-in-curtains. I’d nearly filled the page before I glanced over what I had written—and then very promptly and firmly wrote ‘OPENING LINES FOR A VILLAIN’ at the top of the page. The whole thing had turned into a weirdly psychotic monologue—not the sort of thing you want to have hanging around in notebooks without clarification.

This might be old news for the whole world, but it’s new to me so I’ll record it here. A certain
D. P. Lyle, MD, hosts The Writer’s Forensics Blog, which doubles as an online resource about the sort of medical, forensic, and (to some extent) procedural data a writer might need. It’s naturally targeted at writers of crime fiction, but there’s probably salient detail for any genre that might involve physical injury. As well as the usual collection of top-tips on writing and editing and time management. And it gives helpful links to Dr Lyle’s book and forensic-focused writer’s advice service. On the whole, well worth a browse if you’ve the stomach for it—it can get a bit macabre.

John Linnell doesn’t know what to eat when his wife leaves town.


If you’re interested in vampires, alchemy, or alchemical vampires—or at least in Sookie Stackhouse—then you want to investigate this new post at Hogwarts Professor. A curious little case study in the clash between what the story structure requires and what the readers want—the writer refers to ‘a huge alchemical backfire’. And now you’ll never forget that image.

Lastly, a turn away from writing and frivolity: this may, again, be old new but it’s tremendously important. Dean Obeidallah, attorney and comedian, writes poignantly and articulately about why Muslims hate terrorism, and why terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. It’s not an article he should have needed to write—it’s stuff everyone should already know—but he did because they don’t, and, like I said, it’s too important not to read.

(H/T Mark Evanier, again.)


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