20-Minute Discussion on Writing and Craft

Couple of weeks back I had this conversation with Brion and Dave of the Roundtable Writers Podcast. We covered a lot of ground (see minutes below) and really got into some interesting stuff. I hope you'll enjoy it and maybe even get something out of the listen. Let me know what you think when you're through. Comments here are much appreciated.

Click here to download/listen to Showcase Episode: 20 Minutes with Seth Harwood

In case you're interested, see the episode's full breakdown after the break.

 

Episode Breakdown 

00:50 – Seth’s Awesomeness

 

03:20 – How do you classify your writing? Noire? Pulp? Thriller?

  • 03:30 – See myself as a Crime Fiction author
  • 03:50 – Crime is the umbrella, under it is hard-boiled, noire, and pulp
  • 04:00 – Podcasting is the new technology pulp

 

04:20 – How do you capture the gritty black and white feel of “noire” in print?

  • 04:45 – You can argue it forever and I wonder if you CAN get that stuff on print
  • 05:10 – We have to make it new more than try to capture those things
  • 05:20 – I picture my stuff in color so it’s hard to get those noire tones
  • 05:25 – Look at Pulp Fiction or The Wire, it has the same vibe without the visual
  • 05:45 – We want to bring in some of that world of the underbelly of society

 

06:05 – You draw attention to specific details in a scene… what is your strategy with that?

  • 06:30 – The writer can do too much describing or not enough
  • 07:05 – I endeavor to create a visual movie for my readers
  • 07:15 – Through training and workshops, I feel like I’ve developed a sense of the sweet spot
  • between the work of the writer and the reader
  • 07:35 – It’s important for a writer to think about allowing the reader to do some of the creation
  • 07:50 – Leave some space for the readers to do some of the creation
  • 08:10 – It takes a while to find
  • 08:25 – Show a lot of your work to other people

 

08:30 – Do you use beta readers?

  • 08:35 – Back when I was doing workshops
  • 08:40 – Now I have a better sense of that sweet spot

 

08:50 – How do you make the choice of tense and POV?

  • 09:30 – Bigger issue for writers is to choose the right narrative strategy.
  • 09:50 – Coming from a short story background I really liked present tense
  • 10:00 – Learned a lot about how people read and experience novels
  • 10:15 – Present tense feels like it moves faster (a lot of “s” sounds)
  • 10:30 – Past tense has a lot more “d” sounds
  • 10:40 – I think about my stuff verbally and audibly (even before started podcasting)
  • 11:00 – The sound of present tense really worked for the Jack Palms series
  • 11:10 – In “Young Junius” I used past tense
  • 11:20 – Surprised at how strongly people reacted to the use of present tense
  • 11:50 – The artifice of this being a “true story” is gone

 

12:25 – PROMO: Dead Robots’ Society Podcast

 

  • 14:10 – Trust comes in with hitting the right level of description and inspiring the movie image
  • in the reader’s mind
  • 14:30 – Let the readers fillin images from their own lives
  • 14:45 – It makes it much more rich and emotional for the reader

 

15:00 – What are you bringing to the Crime Fiction genre and how do you foster that in your work?

  • 15:20 – All writers are influenced by the previous creations in their genres
  • 16:30 – I get excited about these serialized long-form television series
  • 16:55 – That helps me lead into the podcasting of my fiction
  • 17:05 – I try to blend the influences from my reading, viewing, and gaming into my work
  • 18:15 – Every writer has core material that becomes hard wired as an influence

 

18:50 – Do you make a conscious choice to make your protagonists “broken”?

  • 19:25 – Very much a conscious choice
  • 19:35 – The aftermath is where a lot of the real emotion and humanity comes in
  • 20:00 – When you’re in a bad place, you realize what it is you need to do
  • 20:25 – The really interesting place in life is when you come out of that
  • 20:40 – That’s where the decisions become much more difficult

 

21:55 – What are you working on now in your craft?

  • 22:20 – I’ve been working on a novel that’s pushing the boundaries of what I know
  • 22:40 – Also trying out a new form, converting a novel into a teleplay
  • 23:05 – It’s a whole alternate way of writing

 

Comments

a great Q From Eli

Hey Seth,
Was listening to your interview on 20 minute discussion today and you spoke  
about your short story background. You have spoke of this a lot of the years  
- question: with all your experience and everything that you've read, who do  
you rate in the short writing world? What titles should I be looking for? Who  
are the masters of the craft?
Congrats on all the success and keep at it, I'll always be listening.
E


Great question. Thanks for writing.
For my part, I'd put Raymond Carver at number 1. Definitely read his work. Especially Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? and Cathedral.
Also up there: Richard Ford, Flannery O'Connor, Chekhov (R. Ford edited translations), Tobias Wolff, Denis Johnson (Jesus' Son), and Junot Diaz (Drown).

That's a good start. Thanks for the awesome Q!

SH

Great 20 minute discussion!

This is a great discussion! So many pertinent things are covered.
I am currently tackling the problem of to much too little description…
Are you teaching any classes this year? 

All Seth Harwood fans should listen!
Thanks Seth!
OG Palms Momma Lily 

Upcoming fall class on beginnings

Lily,

Thanks for your response! Glad you liked the interview. I'm teaching a creative writing course on beginnings at Stanford (on campus) this fall from Sept 27 to Nov 1. More information about the class is here: https://continuingstudies.stanford.edu/courses/course.php?cid=20121_EGL+149

I'm teaching a literary journal class at CCSF, but no creative writing there this fall. Hit me on email if you're interested!

Your boy,

Seth