Heinlein’s Writing Rules

Philip HarrisMeaty Mondays, Writing AdviceLeave a Comment

This is the third in a series of Meaty Monday posts – longer posts where I ramble on about writing related topics. You can find the first Meaty Monday post here. This time I’m talking about Robert A. Heinlein’s five writing rules. I first heard Robert A. Heinlein’s writing rules quoted by Neil Gaiman when he was in Vancouver promoting Anansi Boys and they’ve stuck with me ever since. They were originally published in Heinlein’s 1947 essay On the Writing of Speculative Fiction (republished in Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, among other places). The bulk of the essay is about the types of science fiction stories (human interest or gadget-centric) and the three plots that human interest stories can have – “boy meets girl”, “the Little Tailor” (the little guy who becomes a big shot or vice versa) and “the man who learned better”. It’s Heinlein’s five rules or “business habits” as he calls them that have gained the most attention though. 1. You must write This one is obvious really, let’s face it, but all around the world there are people that would like to be writers but aren’t actually doing any writing. 2. You must finish what you start More good, solid advice. This is one I follow … Read More

On Caitlin R Kiernan

Philip HarrisAuthors, BooksLeave a Comment

Caitlin R Kiernan is one of a handful of authors whose books I always buy but never give away (Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Clive Barker, China Mieville, Haruki Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto being some of the others). She’s one of an even smaller number of authors whose books immediately jump to the top of my reading pile whenever they’re published. She’s also an author who makes me want to give up writing – I know I’ll never get close to her imagination or the sheer beauty of her writing so why bother? I’ve been reading Caitlin’s books for a long time. I can’t remember when I discovered her first novel, Silk (published in 1998), but I think it was through her association with Poppy Z Brite – another author whose work I love – and I’ve been hooked ever since. She’s written some fantastic books, Murder of Angels (the sequel to Silk) and Daughter of Hounds are probably my favourites, and so far I’ve not been able to find many other weird fiction authors that are so consistently good. Her novels and stories tend to be dark, particularly her short fiction, so if you’re the type of person who likes nice, neat Hollywood endings tied up with a … Read More

It’s Not Hard to Hang Around with Saints

Philip HarrisEventsLeave a Comment

Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer are the Sonny and Cher of our generation. But one’s a writer. Okay, maybe not Sonny and Cher. Bonnie and Clyde perhaps? Traveling the country robbing people’s hearts? No, given their sometimes morbid artistic sensibilities, dying in a hail of bullets might be an appropriate end to their careers but that would be a terrible waste. Sid and Nancy? Closer, but no. Mulder and Scully? No…William and Kate? No, definitely not. Brad and Ang…okay, this isn’t working. I’ll start again… I first discovered Neil Gaiman in the pages of the Sandman comics (thanks to my comic shop owning friend). From then on I was hooked and American Gods is still one of my favourite novels. Neil’s one of my literary heroes and I eagerly devour every book and every blog he writes. I was fortunate enough to see him when he visited Vancouver on his Anansi Boys tour. He was funny and entertaining and after I’d waited for two hours to get my books signed I couldn’t think of anything to say to him. I first discovered Amanda Palmer as one half of The Dresden Dolls (thanks to Caitlin R Kiernan’s blog). From then on I was hooked … Read More