Tell Me a Story – And Keep It Simple, Stupid

“Which writers have influenced your work?”

Wow, that’s a tough question. I can tell you who my favorite writers are, but it seems so pretentious to say they influenced Asperger Sunset. Besides, I write what I can’t find to read. When I realized there was little in the way of fiction featuring characters with Asperger’s Syndrome, I thought it would be fun to write something, so I did.

That said, I had to learn the craft somewhere. I’ve always been a reader, willing to pick up a story in any genre. As a writer, I am aware of style and technique as I read, but I can’t just point and say “Stephen King is one of my greatest influences.” Or can I?

A writer didn’t inspire my first story, though, it was a filmmaker. When I was 13 years old, the summer event movie had just been born. In recent years, we’d had Jaws, Star Wars, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. In the summer of 1980 we headed to the theater, eager to see The Empire Strikes Back. It was amazing! Fantastic! Even better than Star Wars! And then – it ended! Before it was done telling the story! The rebels had retreated, one of the heroes was on ice (well, carbonite), the bad guy was still in control, and we had to wait THREE MORE YEARS to find out how the story ended.

Three years? I couldn’t wait three years. That was forever! So what did I do? I went home and wrote the ending. I even typed it, single-spaced, on little half-sheets of paper so it looked like a book. Oh, it was awful fan-fiction, but playing in that universe, commanding those characters, creating situations for them, telling their stories – that was intoxicating! I was hooked.

As I continued to write, I discovered the style I wanted to develop had to be clean. In the mid-80s, I discovered Stephen King and was a fan of novels like Misery and The Dark Half. His prose was easy to read. No excessive description, no long dissertations on the meaning of life, just a set of characters in a twisted situation trying to find their way out.

Elmore Leonard, who died recently, has been famously quoted as saying “I try to leave out the parts readers tend to skip.” His readers didn’t want excessive description, they wanted to know what was going to happen next.

When I write, I try to tell the story through the words and actions of my characters, and apply KISS (keep it simple, stupid) whenever possible. And, unlike The Empire Strikes Back, I promise to wrap up all the major storylines. A few minor ones, however, may be left undone… and if someone, somewhere, wants to take a shot at finishing them, they could discover the gateway to an amazing hobby!

Asperger Sunset is available in paperback or Kindle at

2 thoughts on “Tell Me a Story – And Keep It Simple, Stupid

  1. Not sure how your Empire sequel was, but I’m sure you could rewrite the prequels and leave fans much more satisfied. Any chance of that?

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