Most of the stuff that happened to me before I turned 30 is completely irrelevant to what you really want to know, which is whether or not I’m a gibbering idiot. I can set your mind at ease on that. I only gibber on very rare occasions.
The David Copperfield stuff: I grew up as an Army brat and had an unhappy childhood, which is almost a requirement for writing good fiction. (If you had a happy childhood, then I’m sorry to hear it, but you might still be able to write decent fiction if you can finagle an unhappy adulthood. Go to it.)
When I was a kid, reading fiction was the one safe place in my world. You either get that or you don’t.
I excelled in school. I got an A in practically everything. English. History. Math. Science. When I discovered high school physics, my fate as a geek was sealed. Quarks and gluons are cool.
In college I majored in math and physics and then went on to grad school at the University of California at Berkeley. I wound up getting my Ph.D. in theoretical physics. I did two years as a postdoc at The Ohio State University working on superstring theory. Up to this point, everything in my life makes sense.
Then something odd happened. I have no rational explanation for it, but it happened.
I had always wanted to write a novel. I had always liked thrillers and historical fiction. I decided to try my hand at writing a historical suspense novel.
Any idiot could have told me I was doomed to failure. Working scientists are no good at writing fiction. It goes against all common sense to allow them to even try. If they insist on writing a novel, then they’re only allowed to write science fiction, which will limit the harm to a few geeks.
Everybody on the planet knew these rules. Except me. Naively, I started typing my novel, which was not even close to science fiction. Doggone if it wasn’t the most horrible drivel you can imagine.
It took me a year or two to detect this minor defect. I immediately began studying books on the craft of fiction writing, because I just knew that I was at least as talented as that Tom Clancy guy.
As it turned out, I did have some talent that my physics education hadn’t knocked out of me. Before long, I upped my game from writing horrible drivel to writing real, honest-to-God, mediocre crap, just like every other beginning novelist on the planet. This was progress.
I’m a persistent cuss, and before long, I upped my game again. And again. And again.
It only took about ten years before I started getting it right. My big break came at a writing conference where I had made an appointment with yet another editor. He almost mistook me for a gibbering idiot —until he saw a sample of my writing. He read five pages and asked me to send him a proposal.
That editor took a chance on me and pushed my novel through to publication at his publishing house. That novel won an award (all my novels have won some sort of award). I started to get some attention.
Tragically, none of my novels have ever burned up the best-seller charts, but then a funny thing happened that makes no sense at all.
I started getting asked to speak at writing conferences. You should understand that I was scared to death to speak in public.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I had panic disorder, and my main panic trigger was public speaking. It took a few years, but I got past that. I beat panic disorder. Completely. Public speaking doesn’t scare me at all anymore.
I discovered that I had something to say. I discovered that people like it when I speak. I discovered that maybe my real calling in life is to teach fiction. I discovered that I love teaching.
Somewhere along the way, I posted an article on my web site about my method for designing a novel before I write it. I thought this was the most obvious idea in the world, and maybe it was, but I had the great good sense to give the idea a cool name — “the Snowflake method.”
The Snowflake has made me famous. An incredible number of people all around the world love this method.
Even people who don’t like the Snowflake have found that I have other things to say worth hearing. A lot of things. On the craft of fiction. On marketing your fiction. On getting your life organized so you can write your fiction and market it effectively and still have time and energy to live.
It makes no sense for a theoretical physicist to be best-known for his teaching on how to write a novel, but there you have it. I bet your life doesn’t make any sense either. I have this theory that once you discover what you’re best at, it makes a lot of sense to pursue your destiny.
My goal is very simple. I want to achieve Total World Domination.
Total World Domination means that every fiction writer on the planet will subscribe to my free Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine. It means that every fiction writer will agree completely with my ideas on what makes great fiction great. It means that (eventually) every fiction writer will gladly throw enormous amounts of cash in my direction solely because they love me.
Total World Domination might also possibly mean that I will finally get some respect from my three evil cats, but I’m not expecting much on that score. I’ve already been fantastically lucky in life; there’s no reason to hope for a miracle.
If you’ve read this far, you know whether or not you like my style.
If you don’t, then go ahead and leave this site now, because it’s just going to be more of the same, forever. It was nice chatting with you. Goodbye.
But if you do like my style, then I invite you to sign up for my free monthly e-mail newsletter, The Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine. There’s a signup box in the upper right corner of this page. Please do it right now, because you’ll get some free goodies designed to help you become a better writer.
Then check out the articles on this site. And take a gander at my blog.
No need to buy any of my teaching products just yet. Not until you know me and you know that I’ll make you a better novelist.
When you’ve learned three things from me that nobody else on the planet has managed to teach you yet, that might be a good time to look at my teaching products and see if there’s one you desperately need.
That’s my goal. To make you a better novelist. To sell you exactly the right teaching product for your needs. And to achieve Total World Domination in the process.
It’ll take the sting out of the scorn heaped on me by my wicked cats.