Tag Archives: creativity

Necessary Excess

Stephen King recommended that after writing the first draft of your story, you should then cut out at least 10% during the initial editing process. This is to deal with the word bloat issues that most writers have. Usually, folks have a tendency to write way more than is necessary; too much dialog, too much description, just too many words.

Luckily for me, I don’t have this problem. No matter what my problems are as a writer, you’ll never hear someone say my stories are too long. Instead, everything I write reads like its been stricken with anemia. If I describe a character to you, you’ll know his or her gender and that’s about it. Want to know if he’s tall or ugly or robust or misshapen and horrible? Too bad! Use your imagination and fill in the blanks yourself, I’m busy moving onto the next thing.

Interested in the backstory behind that shadowy mysterious figure? Suck it. Backstory is for pansies. We’ve got frontstory to deal with and I don’t have time for explaining the whys and hows of things. The story needs to get told and it needs to get told in under 3,000 words. Anything else and I’m asleep.

Unfortunately, not everyone shares my beliefs with regard to how a story should be told (as quickly as humanly possible). I need to learn how to embellish and elaborate on my tales of horror and do so without just vomiting up superlative, excessive, redundant and purple prose.

This is long enough.

Dylan Charles


Filed under Writing: Novels, Stories, Blogs and Comics


I work over at a machine shop that allows people to use the machines for the price of a monthly membership. I’ve worked there off and on since last October, but I’ve not had much interest in actually using the shop, though employees can use it for free.

While I consider myself a creative person, I don’t need the shop to create anything I’m interested in. While there are a lot of truly awesome things going on there, my immediate response is not, “Ooo, I want to do that too” but “Ooo, that’s awesome” and then going back to doing whatever it is I’m doing.

The things I make require only a limited set of tools: something to write, something to record. Bam, done.

While I have occasional notions, actual constructs instead of just words, the design process doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t think well spatially. If I’m reading the description of a room or spaceship or building in a book, I end up skipping it. If someone gives me directions, I end up spacing out. For whatever reason, my brain does not lock onto that kind of thing well.

And the idea of measuring and calculating and plotting is even less appealing. Having the finished product would be nice, but it’s not enough of a draw to get me through the whole process. I’m not someone who likes details, precision or extensive planning while being creative. I just want to go and worry about the little details later. So metal working is right out.

But…the wood shop on the other hand. That’s a part of the shop that’s always appealed to me. It’s more flexible, less precise and looks, well, more fun.

So yesterday I decided to take a class on how to use the wood lathe. The thing I ended up liking the most about it was how little it depended on being exact. It was about feeling out the wood, seeing what was right, seeing what FELT right. Testing the angle of the tool and seeing what was working. It was very visceral. While the metal shop requires a lot of hands-off work (set the distance, place the metal, press the button and make sure nothing goes wrong during the process), most of the tools in the woodshop demands that you stay in contact. There’s less distance.

While I doubt I’ll ever become a woodworker, I definitely plan to make use of the lathe. I like doing something that requires working in the world, a welcome change from sitting in front of the computer for hours at a time.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Thinking and Pondering: Science, History, Analysis and Over-Think

Portrait of a Writer’s Block

It is not without trepidition that I start this post. Not because I’m concerned that I’ll reveal some deep dark secret, one that will shock the world and cause my friends to abandon me in droves. Nor am I concerned that I’ll dissolve in a misty, murky jumble of emotionally driven platitudes and cliches, vomiting out angst onto the screen for everyone to see.

Both would actually be preferable to the reality: which is that I am devoid of idea, absent of thought and bereft of creative jots.

At the most, my brain holds an iota (but no more) of concept, lurking somewhere in the back; a thing, frail Phantom, waiting in the wings to deliver The Idea. I can hear him, just a murmur, a whisper of notion.

But so far, he’s not saying anything that I can hear.

So I keep writing, in the hopes that he’ll speak up before I hit the end. But it’s becoming more and more unlikely that he’ll make an appearance. Deus ex machinas are so rare in real life. No shadowy figures standing in doorways who step into the light to reveal it’s the hero that everyone thought was dead. No cavalry, who conveniently remained hidden behind a hill until they were most needed, and then burst onto the scene to the joy of the buxom woman and the desperate gunslinger, their backs to canyon wall while fearsome injuns prepare to pepper them with arrows.

I’m getting closer to the end now and still nothing. I fear my Phantom idea has exited, in hopes of finding greener passages in which to burgeon. Which leaves me to dig deeper, trying to find the words to end this entry, releasing both you AND me from this shapeless purgatory.

In cases such as these, it’s always best to just go with the cliche. That’s why they exist after all, to provide refuge for those who cannot find the words to describe something.

So let’s cap this off with two little words and you can be on your way. Leaving me here, still looking, still hoping, that I’ll come up with something to write about.


Dylan Charles

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Filed under Writing: Novels, Stories, Blogs and Comics