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About Graham Greene...

There are writers I love to read, regardless of what they've written. It doesn't matter what genre it's in, what length, how it's published, I just want to experience their work.

Graham Greene is one of those writers. I was introduced to him through the movies that he wrote, principally The Third Man, directed by Carol Reed and starring Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles. Coincidentally, I wrote about that movie on StarWars.com here. After that, I read his book Dr. Fischer of Geneva or The Bomb Party, based on a friends recommendation and it blasted me right between the eyes. It was reading this book that showed me how I could wrap my head around writing a novel.

Then, over the years, I set out to devour everything he'd done. He'd written entertainments, thrillers, human drama, and many, many short stories.  His book, The End of the Affair, was a direct inspiration on The Aeronaut.  I wanted to bring some of his literary sense to a genre arena and bring a different audience to that sort of writing.

Everything of his I read taught me something different.

I found my favorite short story of Greene's online, and I wanted to direct people to it, hoping they could find something in it.

It's called The Blue Film and you can read it in its entirety here. It's only 1500 words, which is part of why I love it. It's such a quick, sharp read. There is nothing extra here and he's clearly a master of brevity and tone and character. Go read it and come back.

Got it?

Good.

It's breathtaking, to me, what he is capable of conveying in such a limited space. It's something to aspire to.

Every time I read it, I'm just awed. For me, it's up there with Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron and Long Walk to Forever, and Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants. 

Please, tell me what your favorite short stories are, the ones where the craft is just flawless and it robs you of your breath every time you read it. And go into the comments and see what others have to say. Especially read those you think you might not enjoy otherwise, get out of your comfort zone.

As far as my writing, it's been a very productive week. I've turned in pieces for StarWars.Com, Star Wars Insider, City Weekly, and I've been submitted two different novels to publishers. Writing synopses is something I used to do all the time and I've gotten incredibly rusty at it, but putting them together for this project has been a great refresher course.

And then the waiting game starts, which is always my favorite.

The latest in my Cinema Behind Star Wars column came out today as well, and it focuses on The Wizard of Oz.  You can go read that here. 

As a reminder: The Aeronaut and Escape Vector are still out and still need your purchases and reviews. If nothing else, they can use you telling people about them. If you want signed copies, visit the shop here on this page.

Also! here's the full list of "rules and guidelines" I've been collecting over my years of studying writing advice and process

As far as my work outside of all this: There's a lot of great stuff on Big Shiny Robot! and Full of Sith for you. 

And please, please, please don't forget to check out any of my books, drop reviews of them on Amazon or Goodreads, and follow me on twitter and Facebook!
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Anatomy of an Opening: The End of the Affair

Instead of breaking down a scene from a movie, this time we'll break down the opening of a book. (Previously, I've done scenes from City Lights, Citizen Kane, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  I've also broken down the opening to Starship Troopers.

Graham Greene's The End of the Affair is absolutely one of my favorite books. The writing is lyrical and story heart-wrenching and beautiful. Greene's style of writing is such that he always has me gripped, whether it's the beginning of the book or the end. And he shows you so much about the character in his opening lines.

So, here are the first two paragraphs from the book:
A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which, to look ahead. I say 'one chooses' with the inaccurate pride of a professional writer who - when he has been seriously noted at all - has been praised for his technical ability, but d…

50+ Rules and Tips About Writing I've Collected Over the Years

I have twenty or thirty notebooks and journals filled up with snippets about writing, my plans for stories, bits of dialogue, interesting ideas, plotlines, scraps of short stories, and a dozen other things. I carry one with me at all times and it takes me a couple of months to fill one up.

One of the things I've kept in one of my notebooks was a collection of writing tips and rules that I've collected over the years in my travels. From teachers, from books, from wherever. Most of my career has been spent screenwriting, so a lot of these are most applicable to that, but I wanted to present them so they might be of use to you as well.

I've never stopped collecting these over the years and I never will.

To start the list are Kurt Vonnegut's eight rules of writing. They are the first in my notebook and, I think, the most useful. I'll add a star to those I think are applicable most to screenwriting. Some of these aren't applicable to everyone in every situation, but…

Anatomy of a Scene - City Lights

We're going to break down another scene this week, and it's one of my favorites in cinema history. It comes from the ending of City Lights by Charlie Chaplin, which I think is the greatest romantic comedy ever made. 
It's a touching film from 1931 and I would make it mandatory viewing for anyone who wants to learn to tell a story.
The scene we're going to be breaking down comes from the very end of the film, so if you haven't seen it, I don't want to spoil it for you. Go watch the film. You can rent it for $3.99 in HD on Amazon or for free on Hulu with a free trial or plus subscription. You should just buy the Blu-ray, though. You're going to want to revisit it.
For those of you familiar with the movie, or for those of you who are going to ignore my pleas to watch it and go ahead with this post anyway, I'm going to set this clip up a bit before you watch it.
City Lights tells the story of Chaplin's Tramp and how he falls in love with a blind flower …