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Write Fiction Like Ayn Rand Project This week or next, I will be putting the finishing touches on a blog I am setting up about fiction writing and launch it. There will be several lines of topics running such as, story hacking (the neuroscience of story), different approaches to fiction writing and the teaching of fiction writing, the story trance, the usual suspects like plot, character, description, world building, theme, style, metaphors, book marketing, and so on. Here is the link to my blog for those interested: [To be added after launch] Incidentally, the world of that blog and the world of OL are completely different. Over there I will not discuss politics, philosophy, etc. Only writing. It's a blog for writers. It's about writing. A community of writers will emerge there. Also, I will sell things there like writing books, courses, writing software, and so on. If you want heated discussions about philosophy, politics or even writing, OL is your place. Over there the emphasis will be on learning, sharing information and experiences, buying stuff, etc. The Project One of the planned blog topics ties into OL very nicely. I have been interested for some time in Ayn Rand's fiction writing techniques. I noticed that most people who attempt to write Romantic Realism fail to write stories that resonate with the public at large (not to mention most of the stuff outright sucks ). Why? I've asked myself this over and over. I have my own aspirations and I, also, have had lots of trouble using Rand's teaching advice. But I kept plowing, reading, studying, experimenting, and I've come to some conclusions. One reason for such low fiction writing achievements in our subcommunity (with a few exceptions) is because Rand herself was not a very good writing teacher, especially for beginners. To be fair, she has her gems and golden nuggets, but, at least for people like me and many others whose efforts I have read in our subcommunity, she stifles creativity and doesn't teach people how to tell a basic interesting story. For example, her main purpose of writing fiction is to present a perfect man, but that is not what storytelling is about as a characteristic of the human species. That's not what runs Hollywood and that's not what runs watercooler gossip, yet everybody wanders through life saturated in story like fish swim in water. To overextend the metaphor, beginners need to learn how to find clean water before they swim to where they want to go. Swimming through mud doesn't get them far. And Rand wasn't good at cleaning this particular mud. In other words, one can use a good story to present a perfect man, but presenting a perfect man in words doesn't necessarily result in a good story, or even a minimally competent one. And when a beginner who doesn't know how to tell a basic story tries it, the result is often so awful, so stilted, so robotic, so boring, it's funny. There are other reasons, but I don't want to go into them in this post. I will mention some in this thread as I go along, and there will be more in depth writing on it over at the other site. But my purpose is not to bash Rand as a writing teacher. It is to supplement the understanding of her writing techniques and, in some or many cases (let's see what happens), provide step-by-step instructions and exercises to develop specific skills where people will be able to write good Romantic Realism. I want to stress that Ayn Rand is a far better fiction writer than the intelligentsia give her credit for being. She is far, far better than many of the writers they admire. After I finish my work on this project, it will be easy to see why. So, why this thread on OL? Well, sometimes I run across a juicy tidbit about her writing skills and I would like to leave it in a place I can return to later other than private notes. And I don't want to clutter the blog up with unformed tidbits. Also, sometimes an OL member might think of something I have not and that, to me, is quite valuable. Think of this thread as a feeder thread for the Write Fiction Like Ayn Rand Project on my fiction writing blog. That project will eventually turn into a book and/or course. First Tidbit So, to get this thread started, I do have a tidbit. I have a surprising quote from Stirling Silliphant. If you don't know who Silliphant is, he was an extremely popular screenwriter for movies and TV. His movies include In the Heat of the Night, The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure. His TV series include Naked City and Route 66. In the late 1970's, Rand had approved of him as the screenwriter to adapt Atlas Shrugged into a 10 hour TV series for NBC (some have said eight hours) and he managed to do a 1,240 page treatment. Then Fred Silverman took over the NBC management and ditched the project. Siliphant said something quite interesting about Rand. It is quoted in his bio Stirling Silliphant: The Fingers of God by Nat Segaloff, p. 187 under "Unrealized Projects." The following is Segaloff quoting Silliphant. btw - I added the paragraphs and spaces. This passage was run-on in the book, but that is hard to read on an electronic screen. Note - Normally in the bio, Segaloff is meticulous about his sourcing, but he left out the source for this quote. Since he was a personal friend of Silliphant and had access to all his papers, and also interviewed Silliphant extensively during his life, I am confident the quote is accurate, or as reasonably accurate as interview transcriptions allows (if interview it was). I am pretty sure it was a personal interview instead of a magazine, book or God knows what. Why? In that quote, Silliphant changed verb tenses often with "say" and "said." Some people do that when they talk spontaneously. Now back to Rand and fiction writing. Note this sentence in the quote: She said, "On top of that, her dialogue is written in iambic pentameter and when you add I think, aside from destroying the character I've created, you are destroying the rhythm of the sentence." Question. Ayn Rand wrote dialogue, or at least Dagny's dialogue, in iambic pentameter? Iambic pentameter? Rand? Dayaamm! This is the first I've ever heard of it. I haven't yet looked at Dagny's dialogue with this in mind, but this bears checking. Apropos, it is not as inconceivable as it sounds. Modern playwright and screenplay writer David Mamet writes in iambic pentameter. I bet a lot of others do, too. If iambic pentameter for Dagny's dialogue doesn't bear out and is merely an exaggeration for effect by Silliphant, I'm cool with it. After all, the man wrote for Hollywood and that's what they do over there. But if Rand did write in iambic pentameter right under everyone's noses, even if only dialogue, and nobody noticed or said anything all these years, I would be all the more cooler with it. Tangent Here's a side comment as a note to myself. Rand could have used many other screenwriters for this gig, but there is something Silliphant had that others available (probably through Jaffe) at the time most likely didn't. He was a TV writing pioneer and looked up to as a god at the time Rand chose him. From a marketing perspective, this was not just good business, it was great business. Rand admirers don't like to think about this side of Rand, and some even outright deny it, but I see no denigration in her wedding business decisions like the reputation of a co-creator with her artistic creation itself. Without funding, collaborative art doesn't happen. Rand's image notwithstanding, she, of all people, knew this and made good use of it at times. Just look at her career and read some of her Letters. Michael