Straight Talk on Writing: 20 Conversations with Authors about the Craft

By Scott Francis | Go to book overview

Orson Scott Card

“What are you doing here
listening to me when you
could be off somewhere
writing your own stories?”

Orson Scott Card is an award-winning science fiction novelist whose credits include the Hugo Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. His novels include Ender’s Game, Shadow of Hegemon, and Speaker for the Dead among others. He is also the author of the writing instruction titles Elements of Fiction Writing: Characters & Viewpoint and How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy.

In the following interview, Card discusses writing trends, the book industry, writing pitfalls to avoid, and more.

—SF


Trends in writing come and
go. What, in your opinion,
should writers keep in mind
regarding literary trends?

If you’ve been making a living by following “literary trends,” then by all means keep doing whatever has been working for you. However, when the trend is over, so are the stories and books you wrote to satisfy them.

The good and great writers, the ones whose works still have value even when the copyright date is from an earlier decade (or century), are the ones who wrote what they believed in and cared about, with little regard for trends.

Yes, this custom of ending sentences with periods—that’s a trend that seems to have staying power, you can follow that one. On trivial matters, play whatever games you want.

But if someone has told you that a certain kind of book always has to have a certain kind of scene in it, you don’t have to pay the slightest attention to their advice. Such counsel is only useful for desperate writers who do not trust their talent. And sometimes such desperation is justified—the writer doesn’t have the skill yet, or isn’t picking the stories they’re actually good at.

(And speaking of trends, let no one complain about my using plural “they’re” with the singular “writer” as the antecedent—not if you use “you” to address a single individual. “You” is also a grammatical plural frequently used for the singular.)

You only write at your best, and you only invent your best stories, when you believe in and care about the people, relationships, motives, and events in the story. Anything you plug in to satisfy a trend or to follow someone else’s idea of what you have to have merely guarantees that your work will be that much less honest and that much less heartfelt.

It’s like sending your child off to school with another kid beside him as his designated test-taker. “It’s not that I don’t believe in you, darling,” you tell your baffled child. “But I hear that this lad is very, very good at test-taking, and

-13-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Straight Talk on Writing: 20 Conversations with Authors about the Craft
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgments i
  • Table of Contents ii
  • Introduction 1
  • Laurie Alberts 2
  • Barbara Baig 6
  • William Cane 9
  • Orson Scott Card 13
  • Sage Cohen 21
  • Sarah Dornet 25
  • Jeff Gerke 29
  • April Hamilton 32
  • Becky Levine 37
  • Donald Maass 41
  • Dinty W. Moore 43
  • Jessica Page Morrell 46
  • Steven Harper Piziks 49
  • Peter Seigin 53
  • George Singleton 57
  • James Alexander Thom 60
  • Fred White 62
  • Karen S. Wiesner 64
  • You’Ve Read the Interviews… Now Read the Books! 68
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 73

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.