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December, 2010:

How to Tips for exciting stories or novels – The Pianoplayers, Anthony Burgess

The Pianoplayers 1986
Anthony Burgess

Burgess The Pianoplayers

Burgess The Pianoplayers


What he wanted in a film:
Plenty of variety
Which means:

  • A railway train
  • A house on fire
  • A scene by the lake for lovers
  • Galloping horses
  • A fist fight that did not go on too long
  • A ball scene with the Blue Danube waltz for preference
  • Soldiers marching down the street coming home from war
  • No battle scenes
  • (machine guns OK, big guns, not OK)

‘He’ is the narrator’s Dad, who is a piano player at a cinema in the time of silent movies… which explains this list.

This is a very readable novel, it is more like a memoir than a conventional novel. Which is what it is supposed to be, an old lady reminisces about her life, mainly her early life with her father, an itinerant and drunken piano player.

How to write a story or book – try some of these in a short story and see how it goes – if your imagination is stuck, use some of these as modifiers. For instance, add Galloping horses – this will always liven up a scene. Perhaps use them as a metaphor if you do not want actual horses charging about in your existential office drama.

Science Fiction – SF – Sci Fi – glamor space gnomes – how to write

“Science fiction is a genre that makes use of the political, the historic and the social to garb space gnomes in a cloak of glamor that they are unlikely to have achieved in actuality.

The standard-issue content is a result of its barely-examined acceptance of progress in technological, ideological, economic religious and social life.”

Alfred Bork: ‘Deep Vanishing’ in Jeff Lint’s Science Fiction. Jeff Lint is a great and underrated writer.

There is also the tragedy of the person who wants to be an artist but has the mind of an inspector, perhaps they end up writing science fiction, which has the most literally described fantasies. Star Trek is full of this invented technical gobbledygook.

Gnome sf sci-fi use of weapons iain m banks

Gnome sf sci-fi use of weapons iain m banks

Jeff Lint is very interested in the philosophy of ‘tentacled beauties‘ – which covers nearly all alien types (all of which are invented, despite their looming preponderance in the modern world) – just think how much better Darth Vader would be with tentacles instead of (as well as?) the Force.

Just watched movie Skyline – lots of tentacled beauties in there. War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise, Independence Day… all those tentacles.

Michael Crichton [RIP] added a giant squid scene to Pirate Latitudes – although this had the feel of a book that had not been given the final gloss, so that scene might have been cut if he had been working on it.

How to Write task: add a tentacled beauty to a new story, whatever the genre. Try adding a tentacled beauty to a dinner party scene.