Has Cloud Atlas Author David Mitchell Given Us The Greatest Writing Tip Of Our Time?

John Hornor Jacobs, author of Southern Gods, Incorruptibles, and Infernal Machines recently met up with fantasy author Sanford Allen, who related a meeting with David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas and the World Fantasy Award-winning The Bone Clocks. Apparently, Mitchell spent a bit of time buying Allen drinks and asking for stories of Allen’s time as a touring musician.

But this was not just a pleasant evening out for two writers talking shop—this was also an opportunity for Mitchell to share the art of “IWATH,” or, to spell it out, “I WAS THERE.”

Jacobs shared the anecdote on Twitter, explaining the concept of IWATH:




Thinking back on Mitchell’s books, I don’t remember reading them. I don’t even think of the Wachowskis’ admirable attempt at adapting Cloud Atlas. Instead I can see Holly Sykes and Robert Frobisher and Zachry and the Chetwynds, with far more clarity than I can see most of the characters I’ve read, and I think this thread explains why. By dotting his chapters with tiny details and moments about things like running a pub or writing musical notation that only long-practiced experts would notice, he shores up the reality of his world and characters in such small increments that I didn’t even realize how much I was absorbing until the words on the page had created a new reality around me.

I am definitely using this tip from now on—what are your IWATH moments in your own writing?


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