Dangerous Writing

I was driving this morning around doing some last-minute holiday preparation and heard a radio story on NPR.  It was a show called How I Built This and featured Jim Koch, one of the founders of Sam Adams brewery. I didn’t catch the whole show, but I had to share the small bit that I heard.

In reference to his choosing his career in brewing, he said, “There are choices that seem safe but are dangerous and choices that seem dangerous but are safe.”

Do you want to retire and look back on a life half-lived? Jim Koch didn’t. I know that my previous career was one of those choices that seemed safe but was very, very dangerous to my essential nature.

Writing seems dangerous me. That doesn’t mean it’s safe, but I feel more in tune with my spirit than I ever have before.

Have you made choices that seem safe?  Are you living in one now or do you feel dangerously satisfied?


SF World Building – Internal Method

This is a continuation from last week’s post.  We talked about external world building with a speculative fiction example.  Today we’ll dig into the internal method.

Internal world building springs from character and story. The world is determined after the writer establishes their primary characters and main conflicts.  This is not how I usually work.  Even though I primarily write character driven stories, I find it easier to have worlds with ready-made conflicts to hang interesting characters from. It will be an experiment.

Because I’m a visual person, when I get a character stuck in my head, it’s usually because I’ve seen someone or something and can’t help but imagine the backstory.  Recently, I found a bent Saint Christopher medal buried in the dirt at the base of a sheer rock-face.  It’s one of those items I just can’t get out of my mind. Let’s see what we can make of it. Continue reading “SF World Building – Internal Method”


SF World Building – External Method

You, are a world builder.

“But, Mike. I write modern day literary fiction.”

All writers do some form of world building even if their work is set in modern day Wisconsin.  The choices of what to show and what to hide are just as important to the setting of the story.  Many writers will do just as much work to learn about an existing place as I do research to fill out a world created from whole cloth.  I would argue that writing about an non-imaginary place is harder.  If I make it plausible, a reader might accept my creations of flora and fauna (because I SAY jackalope ride yeti on Seti Alpha V) but they can find out if the crocus start to bloom in northern Wisconsin in March. Continue reading “SF World Building – External Method”