Fear in Writing

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Friday, February 25, 2011

Today we welcome Frank J. Edwards, author of the new medical thriller, Final Mercy.  First, a brief bio: Edwards was born in Rochester, New York.  He entered the US Army in 1968 and served a tour in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot.  He received a BA with honors in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill then attended medical school at the University of Rochester.  In 1989, he received an MFA in writing from Warren Wilson College in SwannanoaNC.  After practicing medicine for a decade in North Carolina, he returned to the Rochester area in 1990 where he remains in active practice.  This is his first fiction novel, but he has seen his poems, short stories, and two nonfiction books reach the market.  Edwards lives with his family on Lake Ontario, near Rochester, NY.

Here is Frank Edwards...

Similes for the Act of Writing

When trying to describe the process of creating fiction, writers often resort to similes and metaphors to express the act.  This is because writing is still a mysterious thing—the unconsciously motivated, consciously directed stringing together of words to create a flow of thought and images that will resonate in the conscious and subconscious of others.  And there you go: abstract descriptions like this, not only sound like gobbledygook; they don’t convey what it really feels like.  They don’t teach and they don’t inspire.     

Analogies do a better job of illuminating the heart of the matter.  That is why they are one of the writing tricks of the writer’s trade—the making of creative comparisons.  Ring Lardner supposedly said that writing is like sitting down at your typewriter and slitting open a vein.  Rudyard Kipling compared it to knocking ashes off a bed of coals. 

I read one just last week I’d never encountered before from a writer whose name I wish I remembered, saying that writing is like swimming underwater.  I like that.  It doesn’t apply to writing outlines or taking notes, but to when you begin creating the scenes that are the real lifeblood of any story.  That is when you dive down and stroke your way into the moment.  Then you surface and do it again.  The more you practice, the longer you can stay under.  The trick lies in learning when you are just floundering on the surface versus going deep. 

And here’s one of my own invention.  I’ve never heard it used before, but it works for me.  I used to be a military helicopter pilot and I was also a civilian flight instructor while going to college.  When you first start flight training, it seems like an overwhelmingly difficult task because there are so many crucial things to coordinate at once.  It’s far trickier than learning to ride a bicycle.  But, gradually with time and lots of practice the balancing act becomes second nature.  You get to the point where you no longer think; you just point yourself and fly there. 
Writing is very much like this.

Thank you, Frank, for coming by Southern City Mysteries.  I'm sure many of the readers here have placed Final Mercy on their TBR lists.

For more on Mr. Edwards, check out his website or that of his book, MedThriller.com.


  1. Good analogies! And you're so right--it all gets easier with practice.

  2. Nice to meet you Frank. I wrote a post a few weeks ago about the multitasking involved in writing. I agree with you that after a while it becomes so natural we don't even realise we're performing so many functions.


  3. He used to live in North Carolina! How about that.

  4. Michele - Thanks for hosting Frank.

    Frank - Thanks for sharing your views of what it really is to write. I do like your analogies!! I wish you much success.