Bicycles and storytelling

I’m back from my cycling trip! It was great, thanks for asking. I managed to soak up some of the serene countryside of Germany and Denmark, catch some great stand-up shows at a comedy festival in Copenhagen, and bust my knees from pedalling too much. Remind me to pack lighter next time.

Now, to readjust to stationary editorial life, I’m re-reading parts of Robert Silverberg’s Science Fiction 101, which I 100% recommend if you want a refresher on narrative technique along with amazing writing insights AND some epic short stories by many of the greats (Damon Knight, Alfred Bester, James Blish, Brian W. Aldiss, Philip K. Dick, Frederick Pohl, to name a few). It’s a book I always keep close by and read regularly.

Here is a passage I loved and highlighted on my first read-through.

Technique is merely a means to an end, and in this case the end is to convey understanding in the guise of entertainment. The storytelling art evolved as a way of interpreting the world – as a way of creating order out of the chaos that the cruel or merely absent-minded gods handed us long ago. To perform that task effectively, the writer must peer into the heart of the chaos; the writer must know something about the world. … The process of becoming a writer involves discovering how to use the accumulated wisdom of our guild, all those tricks of the storytelling trade that have evolved around the campfire over the past five or ten or fifty thousand years. Others can show you what those tricks are. But only you can make a writer out of yourself, by reading, by studying what you have read, and above all by writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *