James Aach’s ‘Rad Decision’

James Aach, whose nov­el Rad Decision has been pub­lished elec­tron­ic­ally on the author’s web­site, con­tac­ted me today with the news that he’s writ­ten an essay about the dif­fi­culties of pub­lish­ing his book.

I don’t know Mr Aach all that well, but he sounds pretty on-the-ball, con­sid­er­ing the com­ments he makes:

Dialogue is hard. It’s a real art form – and a real chance for any writer to look very, very bad.

Amen to that. The dia­logue I write these days — and I’ve writ­ten a fair­ish amount, get­ting on for one mil­lion words of fic­tion — is vastly dif­fer­ent from the stuff I used to write. Hopefully bet­ter. But it’s hard work, and the quick­er I real­ised that the soon­er I star­ted writ­ing decent stuff.

Fiction is about char­ac­ters – usu­ally human beings. There’s just no way around that. (I looked.) A work of fic­tion can have use­ful sci­ence thrown in, but if the read­er doesn’t care about the char­ac­ters in some way, you’ll lose them quickly. (Yes, you can have a robot or a lab mouse as a cent­ral char­ac­ter – as long as it has feel­ings.)

Absolutely. If a writer doesn’t care about his char­ac­ters, it’s time to stop writ­ing and change the char­ac­ters. One good thing is that if the writer does genu­inely care about his cre­ations, and can write in sen­tences, the read­er is likely to care about them too. A sur­pris­ing num­ber of the books I’ve read over the past few months have been examples of poor char­ac­ter­isa­tion.

I’ve read a snip­pet or two of Mr Aach’s book, and I think you could do worse than tak­ing a look.

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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