Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Great book for fiction writers

I just finished a wonderful book on the art of writing: The Lie That Tells the Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction by John Dufresne. This book is very thorough and covers all aspects of writing novels and short stories. I particularly enjoyed his chapter on crafting dialogue. Dufresne is a very talented writer with a number of novels and story collections under his belt. This book uses examples of quality writing to illustrate the techniques he is describing. It is easy to understand and an enjoyable read. I feel that it is worth reading this book for the many quotes from writers and other artists liberally sprinkled through its  pages. The Lie That Tells the Truth   is a valuable book for writers in all genres. I look forward to reading Dufresne's book on writing the novel.

Keep writing! Thanks for reading.

Jim Busch

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Isaac Asimov's Thoughts on What Makes a Good Writer

Isaac Asimov was one of the young Carl Sagan's idols. He admired Asimov's great mind, his boundless curiosity and his way with words. Once Asimov got to know the young physicist and would be author, the feeling between these two men of science became mutual. A recently published book of Asimov's letters contained his thoughts on what made Carl Sagan a great writer. Here is what he wrote to him upon reading Sagan's work:

"I have just finished The Cosmic Connection and loved every minute of it. You are my idea of a good writer because you have an unmannered style, and when I read what you write, I hear you talking."

Both of these men had extraordinary vocabularies and a great facility with words, yet they both were able to communicate complicated subjects using simple words. This is great advice for anyone who aspires to be a writer.

Here is another bit of good advice for anyone who wants to write, or who would like to improve their writing...Join the Ligonier Valley Writers. The LVW offers writers opportunities to have their work published. We also offers a number of seminars throughout the year on a wide range of subject of interest to writers. To learn more about go to

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Forget the facts, tell me your story!

The world of science and the world of the arts seldom overlap but here is a great quote from cognitive scientist Roger C. Shank that connects the two:

"Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic; they are ideally set up to understand stories."

I spent many, many years as a professional persuader, also known as a salesman. During my career I saw some of my colleagues talk themselves blue in the face going over the facts and details of their products to no avail. Those who could tell a good story describing how the items they happened to be selling would help the prospective clients almost always got the sale. Everybody has to tell stories to get through this world, we writers are just a little more honest about what we do than the average individual.

If you need help telling your stories, be sure to keep checking the Ligonier Valley Writer's website ( ) for upcoming events and classes.

Thanks for reading.

Jim Busch 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Creating an Empathy Machine

I was listening to a radio interview with John Landgraf, the CEO of the cable network FX. He was talking about the importance of story in building an audience for his company. The show's host asked him how he defined what constitutes a "good" story. I really like he answer and believe that it not only applies to TV scripts but to any good writing. Here is what he said,

" A story is an empathy machine that allows us to see the world through the eyes and minds of others."

I think this succinct statement is as good a definition of a good story as any I have read. We writers are the mechanics who build "empathy machines" to help others see the world from a different perspective.

Thanks for reading.

Jim Busch for the Ligonier Valley writers.