Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
Dispatches tagged as:
writing (67)

Herewith aftermatter from my new book Black Squadron....   (read more)

I couldn't say enough great things about the band we were privileged to see last night, Starset. They're ridiculously smart and creative, wonderfully theatrical live, and frequently hard and heavy enough to support both my running and writing - in fact, they have been indispensable in the creation of more than a few of my books. I love them. You should love them, too....   (read more)

So, on the occasion of launching of ARISEN : Last Stand, to answer questions about the writing thereof and the series in general - and, mainly, get to hang out with the lovely and amazing readers and fans of the series - I did another online video Q&A session (on the eve of my birthday), live from my desk....   (read more)

So, having finally provided a tidbit of news on social media (about R.C. Bray being in the studio to record the Odyssey audiobook), I realised I had been badly out of touch in general, and should really update everyone on what's up. So - here's what's up!...   (read more)

"Without stakes, action quickly devolves into spectacle, which enthralls an audience for roughly one and a half seconds." - Christopher McQuarrie...   (read more)

"The haunting Demon never leaves you, the knowledge of your own terrible limitations, your hopeless inadequacy, the impossibility of ever getting it right."...   (read more)

Brain Pickings's Maria Popova has recently published an anthology of virtually everything she's ever written and collected on writing ("Timeless Advice on Writing: The Collected Wisdom of Great Writers"), all 116 entries, and I couldn't make myself not spend a little time on it; plus copy out the most priceless bits....   (read more)

Check out ME on the OMG Books Podcast with the very lovely William Oday. Some rather deeper (and more personal) stuff about me and the writing process, including from the grim early days of my writing odyssey. Also, actually, this was my very first podcast interview....   (read more)

So, to celebrate the launch of ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege, answer questions about the writing thereof and the series in general - and, mainly, get to hang out with the lovely and amazing readers and fans of the series - I did a 90-minute online video Q&A session, live from a rooftop balcony in my favourite windy southern Spanish town. It was really good fun. Here it is in case you missed it....   (read more)

"I seen a million writers with talent. It means nothing. It's work, you gotta work, do the f*&^ing work."...   (read more)

It is done. Yes, after six months of intensive story-design work - really, after six years, 14 books, and 1.5 million words building up to this - I sat down and wrote nearly 1/3 of a million words, in about 100 days. (Because I am a moron, and a masochist. But I guess we knew that.) The climax and conclusion of the entire ARISEN epic....   (read more)

Here we go again. Honestly, the last thing I need is to convince myself that the work I'm doing right now is any harder than it actually already feels (which believe me is like death), but this just seems to keep coming up......   (read more)

And but then... here comes the DAVID F*&^ING MAMET Masterclass. Oh, my God, what a hilarious and fun and brilliantly instructive ride....   (read more)

"It's no fun to write. I don't know where people get this notion. I mean, if you're a serious writer, you've got to put a gun to your head to get in the chair. Writing is just, simply, not fun. "...   (read more)

Lately I've found myself having the same conversation with people over and over about what's actually involved in writing. Unrelentingly, people bring up "inspiration", and "the Muse", and "writer's block" - all of which are myths. Total myths. None of them exist....   (read more)

"I'd love to hear about how you tackle story design, something you talk a lot about..."...   (read more)

"If there is a single more powerful piece of wisdom for any writer, artist, or entrepreneur, I don’t know what it is. Theme. Theme is everything."...   (read more)

For the last seven years, Steven Pressfield has published a weekly column called "Writing Wednesdays." If you are a writer, artist, entrepreneur, or anyone trying to do something hard and creative in the world, Pressfield should be your patron saint....   (read more)

Author (and high school janitor, and Iowa Writer's Workshop graduate and teacher) Thom Jones has died. He was the best writer of short fiction in the entire history of the world. You have never heard of him....   (read more)

Last week I was privileged to do an online video/audio reader Q&A with the fabulous Book Club with Booze. If you'd like to get a deep dive into the background and themes of the ARISEN series, my personal pick of weapons for the ZA, the special operations community, literary theory, the writing life, and deep storycraft - all enhanced by HEAVY DRINKING - with a bunch of great and super-smart people (many of them active-duty military), you can now do it right here! Any time! Yee-hah....   (read more)

As you will know, there’s almost no ARISEN without the soundtrack. For the first time, I did the entire playlist I wrote these books to as a Spotify playlist, so you can actually listen along as you read....   (read more)

So, as on previous occasions, once again here is a glimpse into the complete story design for the latest cycle of ARISEN material, Books Eleven and Twelve....   (read more)

We were doing so great. Our project was in high gear, we were almost finished (maybe we actually were finished). Then inevitably... Everything crashes. ...   (read more)

"Story talent is primary, literary talent secondary but essential... Only by using everything and anything you know about the craft of storytelling can you make your talent forge story." - Robert McKee...   (read more)

So, as last time, here for grins and posterity is a glimpse into the complete story design for my latest, ARISEN Books Nine and Ten....   (read more)

In my quest for 90-second breaks, and to provide mini-updates on the progress of the work, I seem also to have created a decent little window into the process, or at least the mental contortions, of novel-writing....   (read more)

At this point, having done this 20 plus years, I kind of know what I'm doing. I don't feel like that at all. I feel like I know less now about how to do it than I did when I started....   (read more)

Ultimately, as awful as all that sounds, I've sort of made peace with it because it's good for the work. It just is....   (read more)

What if it sucks? I'll take my lumps and learn my lessons. I'll look to the next book and the one after that. But nothing will stop me from giving this book my all. I will NEVER back off. I will NEVER give the work anything less than 100%. If I go down in flames, so be it. I’ll be back....   (read more)

I did (rather unprecedentedly) tweet occasionally, while writing the new book. Taken together, I think perhaps these present a decent little window into the process, or at least the mental contortions, of novel-writing....   (read more)

So I've gotten really, really interested in story design. I may actually have gone a bit too far down the rabbit hole at this point. In any case, herewith is a glimpse into my complete story design for the latest book....   (read more)

And, incidentally, how I learned to write (SOF) military fiction....   (read more)

This month and next, as I execute a novel I've been planning for years, and which certainly feels like the most high-stakes book I've written in a long time, I am endeavouring mightily to keep at the absolute forefront of my mind at every waking second... the core dramatic principles. Nobody does those like him, so thus to David Mamet....   (read more)

So - having gotten back into the thicket of my notes, and the story design I attempted to do previously, I can now officially report: I have absolutely no idea how I'm going to write this next book....   (read more)

There's a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don't, and the secret is this: It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write. ...   (read more)

It is done. I finished writing on Thursday. This is the point that I've come to think of "the end of principal photography." Quite a lot of editing and post-production remains. But I no longer have to suffer the terror of coming in every morning to face the blank page. (Yeah - it never goes away.) And I no longer have to rent my entire head out as a full-time story engine/narrative designer/idea generator/character developer/plot problem fixer/dialogue polisher. I can actually just take a run and enjoy it - thinking about whatever I damn well please. The freedom is delicious....   (read more)

The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work....   (read more)

The ability to operate effectively under conditions of adversity might actually be the secret to life. And where I personally got (belatedly) instructed in this was from the military world's special operators - for whom RESOLVE and RESILIENCE are everything....   (read more)

So it turns out that immortal, affecting stories tend to work for surprisingly universal and archetypal reasons. Understanding these archetypes and principles, and how to employ them, gives the storyteller seemingly magical powers. I feel like I have just gotten my first glimpse or two behind that veil; and am now at the very beginning of being able to do these things myself - just, and fumblingly....   (read more)

You find certain writers who when they write, it makes your own brain voice like a tuning fork, and you just resonate with them. And when that happens, reading those writers becomes a source of unbelievable joy. And I sometimes have a hard time understanding how people who don't have that in their lives make it through the day....   (read more)

Set in a completely entrancing and fully realized early-forties New York, just before America's entry into WWII, it tells the story of Joltin' Joe Dimaggio's historic hitting streak for the Yankees - as a background to two love stories, a family drama, and (most of all) a coming-of-age tale. It encompasses pacifism, spectacle, duty, hero worship, ways of seeing, death - particularly the early death of parents and the abiding ache their absence leaves behind, sex (and its enchantments and terrors) before 1963, and the power of mystical thinking - and maybe even of real magic....   (read more)

I've used this famous quote, about how nobody in Hollywood has any idea what is going to work at the box office, many times - most often, to reapply it to the publishing industry. Here's the fuller version from Hollywood screenwriting legend, and novelist, William Goldman....   (read more)

Since two days ago I meme-slapped a first-time novelist who (scandal!) doesn't run a blog, I'm pleased to post her responses here. You should check out her new book. Compulsion Reads describe it as a "highly passionate and cerebral character study of a woman on a mission to make the world a better place" which paints characters in "vivid colors and spins truly sharp and erudite dialogue."...   (read more)

I've just been meme-slapped by novelist/psychologist Ian Hocking with a Ten-Questions-About-Your-Book thingy that's going around. So come with me now for a candid, behind-the-scenes, insider tour of the making of ARISEN : GENESIS....   (read more)

Having dashed out, all atremble, to see the Avengers movie, I'm now able to offer a clear judgement and recommendation: You're much better off watching this (two-and-a-half minute) trailer. It had better writers....   (read more)

So I got such a good reaction to my experiment of publishing the actual browsing history of a writer of high-tech, special forces, nuclear terror action thrillers, that I've done it again. Also, here are the very last two short stories that I amused myself by doodling covers for....   (read more)

Well, it's done. After eight months of bashing full-time... and two years of doing story and structure work... and coming out of probably six years of reading and research... I've finished the new novel. It's by like a factor of four the most ambitious thing I've ever attempted. But I think I may have just pulled it off....   (read more)

One or two of you have kindly inquired why the dispatching has all gone silent. After a feverish pace through 2010 and the first not-quite-half of 2011, I've withdrawn from the field to try and get my new book written....   (read more)

There's a word for a writer who never gives up... published....   (read more)

More evidence for my solidifying theory that anything you see being read on public transport, more than about once, is rubbish....   (read more)

D.T. Max has a totally stunning piece in The New Yorker: The Unfinished - David Foster Wallace's struggle to surpass Infinite Jest....   (read more)

This month sees the paperback release of Pandora's Sisters in the US - theoretically (though probably not actually, unless you ask them to order it) available in bookshops but definitely from Amazon.com. Makes a dandy Christmas gift....   (read more)

Yesterday I went on a bit of a Suck.com nostalgia trip. Since I'm the very modest and unassuming fellow that I am, I declined to make any mention of the fact that I myself was published in Suck once or twice back in the day....   (read more)

I'm a Martin Amis fan. There, I said it. Ordinarily, when people ask me who my favourite contemporary novelists are, I usually slip Amis in - but almost always add that "he's a guilty pleasure" or some such similar wiggly qualification....   (read more)

The following excerpted piece appears in full in Shots, The Crime and Thriller E-Zine. - When I wrote my first novel, I knew I wanted to include an awful lot of gunplay...   (read more)

An amateur novelist doesn't think he's done until his book is under a cover and piled on display tables across the land. Why do these people think this is likely to happen? Moreover, why do they imagine that it will be a rapturous, fulfilling, life-changing event if it does?...   (read more)

No, I don't mean the Saturday that's Ian McEwan's novel, though it's really rather good and you should probably read that, though not at the expense of reading Atonement, which is just amazingly good....   (read more)

From David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest - "You burn to have your photograph in a tennis magazine." "I'm afraid so." "Why again exactly, now?"...   (read more)

Emily Bronte (lived at home her whole life), Virginia Woolf (threw herself in the Thames), Dostoyevski (epileptic), Hemingway (shotgun blast to the head), Salinger (complete withdrawal from public life), John Fowles (self-imposed exile in rural Devon), Pynchon (whereabouts unknown, only a couple of photographs exist), Camus (died in car crash - accidental?), Mark Twain (lifelong depressive), F. Scott Fitzgerald (died of alcoholism)...   (read more)

Q: Just how much Graham Greene do you intend to read, anyway? A: Every word he wrote....   (read more)

So, I've had a heck of a 12 hours. First I fell out of bed - it was inevitable, my bed is 8 feet off the ground, in a little loft....   (read more)

Anyone moderately familiar with the rigours of composition will not need to be told the story in detail: how he wrote and it seemed good; read and it seemed vile; corrected and tore up; cut out; put in; was in ecstasy; in despair...   (read more)

close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Fickisms
ARISEN : Odyssey
ARISEN : Last Stand
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 1 - The Collapse
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 2 - Tribes
Black Squadron
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 3 - Dead Men Walking
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 4 - Duty
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 5 - The Last Raid
ARISEN : Fickisms ][ – This Time, It's Personal
ARISEN : Operators, Volume I - The Fall of the Third Temple
from email:

to email(s) (separate w/commas):
By subscribing to Dispatch from the Razor’s Edge, you will receive occasional alerts about new dispatches. Your address is totally safe with us. You can unsubscribe at any time. All the cool kids are doing it.