Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

The Power Of Story

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STATUS: Heading to Seattle today.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? PERRY’S PLACE by Richard Underhill

When I was in St. Louis two weeks ago visiting family, my mom asked me if I wanted to go and catch a matinee movie. If you know my mom, you’ll know that she loves shoot ‘em up action films, mysteries, and thrillers. The more blood and guts, the better.

In general, not my cup of tea. But the point was to hang with Mom so I said, sure, and let her pick the film. For a matinee price, I can live with just about anything.

So off we went but she had gotten the movie start time wrong so as we sat down, the movie had already begun by a few minutes.

About 10 minutes later, I had a rather puzzled expression on my face and Mom asked what was up. The theater was almost empty so I leaned over and whispered, “I recognize this. This movie is based off of a short story.”

She shrugged as she didn’t know.

But I was right. It WAS based off of a short story—and one I hadn’t read in probably over 20 years.

The movie was The Adjustment Bureau starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt–based on the short story by Philip K. Dick.

And that, folks, is the power of story. That after 20+ years, I still recognized it even though I hadn’t thought about it in years.

That’s what you want to achieve with your own writing. And speaking of Philip K. Dick, my author Sara Creasy has been nominated for the Philip K Dick Award for her debut SF novel SONG OF SCARABAEUS.

Why not check out the list and if you haven’t picked up one of these titles to read, why not? Editors are reluctant to acquire new SF authors because the sales numbers can’t compare to fantasy, so selling a debut SF writer is a tough biz (but I’m happy to report I just sold another debut SF author 3 months ago and gasp, a guy to boot!).

So if you love SF, do your part. Pick up one of these nominees.

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16 Responses

  1. Petrea Burchard said:

    This brings to mind a Hitchcock quote which I’ll have to paraphrase: he said film is most like the short story because these are the only two forms of story we expect the audience to consume in one sitting.

    Both forms compress ideas into tight images and require skilled writing.

    Congratulations to Sara Creasy, and to you!

  2. Joseph L. Selby said:

    If you know my mom, you’ll know that she loves shoot ‘em up action films, mysteries, and thrillers. The more blood and guts, the better.

    *Adds new line to query: This is a novel I think your mother would love.*

    That’s just gotta work!

  3. Matthew MacNish said:

    If you like Thai food, make sure you try Racha at Lower Queen Anne, near Seattle Center.

    Man, now I miss Seattle.

    Congrats to Sara, that’s a very cool title.

  4. Neurotic Workaholic said:

    There are certain scenes and characters that I vividly remember years after reading them, just because of how they struck a chord with me. But I can’t seem to remember all the details and footnotes from the scholarly nonfiction books that I have to read for my graduate research; those books are informative, but they just don’t tell stories in the same way. (If only they could/did, then that would make my graduate work so much easier!)

  5. Josin L. McQuein said:

    THAT’s where I recognized the story from! I couldn’t remember where I’d seen it before; I thought maybe it was an old Twilight Zone or Outer Limits.

    The name didn’t stick with me, but the story sure did.

  6. Katie said:

    Oh, I’m so SOS was nominated! That book was one of my favorite sci fi reads this year … actually, make that my favorite. I bought the sequel yesterday and I’ll going to start reading it tonight!

  7. Malin said:

    Wow! I actually found the novel in my favourite Swedish online store. Considered it bought – and my respect for this store has gone up.

    Stories are definitely powerful – I have a few of them I just can’t get out of my head, those that changed my way of looking at life, and those that were just awestriking. That goes for unpublished and published works alike. And great anecdote 🙂

  8. Lisa said:

    Had I known you were in St. Louis and attending that conference I would have been there!

    Was also wondering what part of St. Louis your family is from. (I’m in Ballwin. (Kind of cool to realize you were in my neck of the woods for a short time!)

  9. The Pen and Ink Blog said:

    I had the same puzzled feeling when I saw it. There is nothing like a good story.
    My daughter inn law typed me a copy of The Ugly Mollusk by Frank Sullivan of Algonquin Round Table fame. It’s only available in well stocked public libraries that contain Saturday Evening Post’s Treasuries of Humor. The story was published in April 1938

  10. Mark said:

    Congrats to Sara!

    I just want to say that I wasn’t suprised when I read that the movie that Kristin saw was The Adjustment Bureau. There have been several great science fiction and fantasy authors that have had a profound influence on my work, but no one as much as Philip K. Dick. My favorite of his is either The Man in the High Castle or Galactic Pot Healer.

  11. Penelope Wright said:

    You wouldn’t happen to be attending a conference or anything here in Seattle that I could drop in on?? My weekend is free! 🙂

    And I second the Racha recommendation. Yum!!

  12. Holly Vance said:

    My mother and I have similar tastes as your mother: we are 16 year-old boys when it comes to films.

    But speaking of the power of a story, think of how Arthurian Legend keeps popping up in entertainment. HBO’s new series?

  13. Caitlin said:

    Philip K. Dick stories and novellas make much better movies than they ever did in print. Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report etc – all much better as movies than the original. He had great ideas but the final versions never quite seemed finished to me.

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