An Eight-Year-Old Chinese Student, Pokemon,, and the Narrative Nature of the Human Soul

I teach English to kids in China every morning and every evening. Sometimes progress can be tough, but at other times it's great. I've been teaching Parker twice a week for the last 16 months. Parker is eight-years-old and loves Pokemon. I've tried to use that before in our lessons, but it's been more distracting than anything. Now, though, we're really on to something.

We had tried to read, or rather have Parker read, some Pokemon stories online, but we ran into some trouble. One, Parker really has a hard time focusing once we start reading about Pokemon, or looking at them, or talking about them, or if one is mentioned a single time. We've been working on that for awhile; easing our way into it.
The second problem is worse. There are tons of Pokemon stories available online. There are many sites online where anyone can write and post a story, Wattpad is very popular. "The Martian" was originally published on Wattpad. The problem is that most of the …

The Write Process

There are thirteen writers' processes that I want to explore today. I've studied more, but I find these thirteen to be revealing and interesting. One thing that I've noticed as I've been doing this studying, and you may too, is that there are no rules in writing other than two.

The first rule in writing is don't bore the reader. The second rule in writing is don't confuse the reader. Other than that, do whatever you want. This has some bearing on the process of writing too. You will probably be surprised at the wide variety of processes that are employed, I was.

I traditionally thought of writing as something akin to reading. Writing is needed for reading, but they are somewhat less related than they at first appear. When you read, especially a work of fiction, you start at the beginning and read forward one sentence at a time with the unknown slowly being revealed to you until you're at the end, or until the writer bores or confuses you, at which point you…

More Ideas

I fell into a pure consummatory phase, and yet my mind churns with ideas. Without execution our inspiration finds itself more than transient, more and more limited by temporal bounds, until at last it has only been a whim. Perhaps it was a fancy whim, but a whim nevertheless. And so it must pass, from our immediate awareness to the past, and without the consolation of having been written. So write, I must.

I have about nineteen things I want to talk about. We shall see how it actually comes out. First, Mithra.

It would be amazing for someone to construct the epic tales of Mithra, an ancient Roman god. We have the pictures, but we don't have the words. An epic the likes of the Illiad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid, or Paradise Lost seems like it would be appropriate. How much better would it be if it could actually be sung? Also, you could make a book that tells the tale in verse, and prose, and a type of hieroglyphics. Now that would be an epic. You could have various editions for var…

Writer's Block is a Life Problem; or An Experiential Inquiry into the Nature of Writer's Block

I haven't been able to write. I want to, I've tried, I've even started a few articles, but it just won't come. And, I know why.

"Why am I writing?" I asked myself that question around 6 months ago and said, "Because I want to, if feels good, and I like it." That answer was enough to carry me these past months. For some reason I asked myself that question again a few weeks ago. I answered in the same way, but the answer fell flat this time. I've had some really good feedback, my views keep increasing, but something's off. At first I thought it had to do with writing. But, that's not it. My skill has been increasing, and I have a never ending supply of ideas. So, what's been wrong?

Well... the short answer is - life. My writing is just a microcosm of a more general set of dilemmas. I've entered a few contests. I haven't won, but that's to be expected. Judging contests are purely subjective, even rejection rates from publish…

Interesting Ideas My Brain Had Recently

My mind has been spinning webs of ideas for fiction. I want to lay out eight of these ideas in writing so that I can start clarifying my thoughts around them.


I like the framing that I did with my science fiction short story "The City of Peace." I opened and closed it like a father telling his son a bedtime story. The story was kept in the family, it was about the child's grandfather. Also, only a small piece of a larger story was told, so it naturally lends itself to being serial. This has had me thinking, I could write each chapter as a short story with the same frame of being a bedtime story and grow that into a novel. If I could write a story that children would like, then it would be a story that could be read as a bedtime story. One chapter could be intended to be read each night. String together a series of 28 or 30 short stories in this fashion and you could have one of the greatest bedtime stories of all time. It is an idea that my mind keeps going back to,…

The Making of a Great First Line in Fiction

When I was young I would read entire novels before deciding they were bad. That slowly reduced to half, then a few chapters, then one chapter, then a few pages, then a few paragraphs, then a few sentences. It is not rare for me to decide against reading a book on the first line now. There are 130 million book titles in the world, with millions more being created each year, I have no need to read something that isn't good (except I do study things for writing now so that's not completely true). The first line sets the pace for the entire reading experience. I am going to dissect the first line experience today.

My favorite first line of all time belongs to my favorite novel of all time, Replay by Ken Grimwood.
Jeff Winston was on the phone with his wife when he died.

This is a completely normal sentence until the very last word. Jeff Winston was on the phone with his wife when he sneezed. That is a boring sentence. Jeff Winston was on the phone with his wife when he died. That…

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