Fiction by Paolo Bacigalupi

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Posted on Jan 2, 2008 in Blog, Writing | 6 comments

How to make a novel really amazing

This is embarrassing to admit, but I’ve discovered that the quality of my novel varies in direct proportion to how much caffeine and trashy rock I’m listening to when I read it. I just went through the last third of the book with coffee and Nickelback… and it ROCKED! (insert headbanging here; spilled coffee cup).

Tomorrow, I’ll realize how much it sucks again. But now I know the magic secret to making it better.


  1. Just imagine how good it would be if you listened to some real metal. Nickelback? Pfft. I could turn you on to some good shit. Check out Protest the Hero:

    Also, be sure to check out their video “Heretics and Killers” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JA8K1PDM5M). In it, the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz are in the present day, and are out of work because the witch is dead. They’re trying to make it in the modern world, waiting tables, etc., but they just don’t fit in. It’s a bit weird, to say the least, but pretty cool.

  2. You think I’m not embarrassed about this? I am. Believe me. My friends scorn me. And worse yet, it makes me doubt my sanity: If Nickelback makes my book good… how good can the book be?

    I’ll check out the links. Though I should warn you, others have tried to improve my musical taste in the past.

    All have failed.

  3. Well, I figured that if it was an effect of the headbanging that made your book better (because your brain got jogged around inside your skull, giving you a mild concussion, and thus fogging your thinking), that listening to some harder stuff would improve the book even more. :)

    I know PTH’s vocals aren’t for everyone, but tell me that guitar in Sequoia Throne isn’t bad ass.

  4. Interestingly, this also works with the Four Seasons. With enough caffeine, “Beggin'” becomes absolutely sublime.

    They should market books with little packets of caffeine pills… or maybe cross-market with that disturbing caffeine chewing gum…

  5. I, too, was about to scourge you for listening to Nickelback. But then I look through my own Writing Music playlist on iTunes and I find such gems as Gary Glitter, Judas Priest, Gary Numan and other stuff not worth revealing to the public.

    I think there is something about caffeine and hard rock for writing, at least in Horror, SF and the like. Stephen King listens to alot of hard stuff from The Ramones on up to Queens of The Stone Age. When I really need to get it done, it seems to be headphones with Scorn, Venetian Snares, Killing Joke and the like blaring plus lots of deeply steeped tea.

  6. Weirdly (and embarassingly) enough, when I was in college, and I had serious (non-fiction) writing to get done, I found that nothing powered me through it like REM’s “Automatic For The People.” And caffeine. Lots of caffeine.