Brilliance from an intro: Le Guin on words

I’m rereading Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and unsurprisingly, finding it 100% (or more) relevant to the world we live in right now. (If you somehow haven’t read this book, you should fix that, really. It should be required reading for being a human.) I could pretty much quote the whole chapter of observations on the androgyny of the Gethenians and its implications upon their society, but what I’m interested in dropping here is actually something from Le Guin’s introduction. It’s beautiful and absolutely true of being a reader and a writer.

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the voices in my head are not all fictional

but the vast majority are. I don’t even know who they all are at this point, but I suppose I’ll meet them someday. That’s fine. In theory, the longer they rattle around in there, the better I’ll know them when it’s time to tell their stories. Until then, however, they sometimes amount to clutter. The impenetrable crowd (mosh pit, perhaps) at a loud rock show, when I need to find my friend — the short one, wearing all black.

Character building and development are among the most important things in a story for me. When I’m reading or even watching a movie or TV show, if the characters don’t seem like real, layered people, it takes me out of the story, and I usually don’t return. I don’t have to like them; in fact, the characters I gravitate toward are often detestable and hating them is part of the appeal. Most of the best characters, be they “good” or “bad” are people I would loathe and avoid in real life. Continue reading