East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai



They say you can’t run a blog about your writing – or, indeed, about someone else’s writing – without a post about the ubiquitous dogma, the One to Rule Them All… Show Don’t Tell.
And who am I to snub traditions?

toolbox-set-for-carShow Don’t Tell is probably the most basic, simple tool in a writer’s toolbox.
I talk about tools and toolbox, and not about rules, because of this story, which many take as an undisputed truth, about rules being unbreakeable.
Now I don’t know how it is out there where you are sitting right now, but here where I am, there is a growing cult of this sho’dontell thing*.
Like most cults, this is based on an oversimplified and partial understanding of its central tenets.
And because this post is being written first and foremost for me, as a pro-memoria and as a way to set my thoughts straight, I am non interested here in finding the cult-leader, or laying the blame on this or that blogger, critic or writing guru.
What I would like to write, here, is the tool’s handbook, the pocket cheat sheet for the Show Don’t Tell utility. Continue reading


Learning to Fly (or to write about it)

I’m a sucker for teach-yourself manuals.

9780340966143Now, in 1938, a British gentleman by the name of Nigel Tangye published with Hodder & Stoughton a small handbook called Teach Yourself to Fly.
The volume was reissued in 1941, as a quick-and-dirty crash course for RAF newbies.

Now, c’mon, this is the 21st century – we are leery, and pretty skeptical, of one-package crash courses and Idiot’s/Dummies books about using Twitter or Mexican cooking.
And here’s a 75-years-old, 170-pages booklet, claiming to be the one-stop beginner’s course for fighter pilots?
In war situations?
One has to scratch one’s head, and wonder how gullible were they back in those days. Continue reading