Guest Post by Chris Johns, author of Four

Today, Chris Johns, author of Four, is here to chat about art and writing. Hello Chris! four banner

Every now and then I like to take a few moments to read or think about how artists approach art.  Not only writers, it can range from an essay by Kandinsky about form to the youthful ranting of Rimbaud (including his famous “imagine a man implanting warts on his face”) to a critical discussion of El Greco’s style in the portraits.  It helps me focus my own thoughts and feelings about art and writing.  A friend of mine, who is a painter, and I will schedule an “art and lit night” to discuss different ways a painter and a writer can look at things.

There are so many different approaches to art.   I suppose every artist, at some point, has a conceptual view of the art he or she is creating and attempting to create, whether in a painting, a poem, a symphony or a novel.  Sometimes, like Kandinsky, they write about it in an essay; sometimes it’s just evident in their work.  The wide range of approaches is inspiring.

The other day, browsing my shelves, I picked up the works of Rimbaud to wander through some of his letters.   One letter particularly caught my attention.  In it Rimbaud praises ancient Greek poetry as having given rhythm to action.  In contrast, he complains that poetry since then had been just a game, and he longs to create a new poetry that is fundamentally Greek poetry again.

What I find appealing in his thought is to have literature that engages life with all its rhythms, that directly engages life and thought and emotion.  It’s not Rimbaud saying we should all start writing like Homer and Psappho; it’s as a call to write using language that is direct: forceful where is should be, tender where it should be, but always direct.

From my own personal experience I know how easy it is to “let the words get in the way” or to focus on “exhausting your cleverness” when writing.  There are times when I re-read a paragraph or a sentence and find myself to have cluttered up what I truly wanted to express.  Even the much-revered Shakespeare was not immune to the occasional clever-but-irrelevant metaphor.  I suppose that is one of the reasons I re-read and re-read chapters, paragraphs and sentences.  Certainly creative new angles and cleverness have their place, but even then I find my goal to be to convey those thoughts and emotions directly and clearly, and not let the words get in the way.


Four By Chris Johns
Genre: Literary Fiction
Release Date: April 30, 2015
Publisher: Three Faced Media, LLC



Tom Bianco is the senior biologist at an environmental research and advocacy group. He has devoted his life to studying ecology and protecting the natural environment. Tom has grown convinced that human civilization is killing nature and itself, and finds his efforts to fight for the environment becoming futile. His neighbor, Joshua Maladif, is a research oncologist whose wife, Susan, died of leukemia fiver years earlier. Josh threw himself into understanding the disease and its causes. Through his research, Josh has learned of levels of electromagnetic field exposure that cause the leukemia at aggressive, incurable levels. Tom learns of Josh’s research and decides he must use it to act, to thwart human population growth before it destroys the planet. Tom meets Rusty Connolly and Damien Wycliffe, learns of their capabilities, and devises a plan to cause the fatal leukemia with electronics. Tom enlists Damien and Rusty in the efforts to spread the leukemia through computer programs. Wycliffe is a mechanical and electrical engineer who is also gravely concerned with environmentalism, and who writes the computer virus program to cause smartphones, tablets and laptops to emit EMF at levels that cause the cancer. Rusty is a young computer programmer who spent time in prison for hacking and became an evangelical Christian convert involved with an apocalyptic religious group promoting the “End Times.” Rusty writes the worm program to launch the EMF virus across the globe. In their actions and discussions, the principal characters confront social, religious, legal, moral and emotional issues with who they are, what they are doing and whether they can or must go through with their plan.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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16 Responses to Guest Post by Chris Johns, author of Four

  1. I found this guest post very interesting – being direct and not letting the words get in the way. That way the ideas and emotions can shine through unimpeded. Chris’ book sounds really interesting too, although it reminds me of another book, the name of which escapes me at the moment.

  2. Sometimes I can’t find the words to express a thought and I have the compulsion to Google it. Then I think, “Wait, this is what I DO. My job is to come up with words to express thoughts!” It isn’t always easy, especially if you’re trying not to repeat yourself.


  3. Chrys Fey says:

    Four is my lucky number. 😉 Okay, that has nothing to do with the post but I had to say that when I saw the title of the book.

    I need to think about how other artists approach art more often. That could be a great lesson. I have created song lyrics and fashion designs to help me figure out exactly what I wanted to say…it helped. 🙂

  4. It is hard. An avid reader, my mother gave me the best advice on it. I wrote a book with as much writer shine as I could. She read it and gave me a thumb’s down. She said, “Stop impressing me with how many words you know and just tell me the damn story.”

  5. Be direct. That I can do. They say less words is always better anyway.
    Congratulations, Chris!

  6. Chris Johns says:

    Thanks for the opportunity to guest post with you. I appreciate having a chance to share thoughts on writing and to hear what others think. The Comments that were posted were great. Thanks to everyone who commented. — Chris

  7. Fascinating guest post. I like the direct approach as well. This sounds an enticing read. ❤ ❤

  8. It is interesting to stop and reflect on our own writing. Sometimes we are trying too hard! Great guest post. 🙂

  9. I like to be direct and simple with my sentences. In my earlier writing days I tried too hard with the symbolism, metaphors, and other things, and my writing was bogged down and slow-moving. I cared more about the story sentence by sentence rather than the whole thing, meaning that I ignored plot. Even if I did have a plot, I’m sure all my artificial sentences ruined that.

  10. The Guat says:

    Dude I can completely relate to what you’re saying…I’ve been there … Rereading and editing duuuuuude you’re just thinking and thinking and you think yourself out of the zone. It’s so funny you post this because I just posted something about writing and characters that totally resonated with me. I was like YES! I got this! 🙂 very cool guest post 🙂

  11. great post from Chris! I always clutter up sentences with purple prose! NO GOOD…simple is best! 🙂

  12. Great post. Writing well is rewriting weller — and re-reading wellest.

  13. The storyline sounds intriguing. I love the editing process much more than the actual creating. I suppose because the story has been given life in my thoughts, so finding the perfect words is what most excites me. Thanks for this informative guest post. Best to your future, Chris.

  14. cleemckenzie says:

    I sort of like to “see” what’s happening, then find the words that I think will make that scene clear to the reader. I take my time and do a lot of re-wording before I’m satisfied. Enjoyed this post.

  15. Kourtney Heintz says:

    Great point about using big words. I tend to hid behind big words and complicated sentences when I’m not quite comfortable with what I’m writing. The more I dig in, the less I rely on them. 🙂

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