The Art of War
The Art of War is one of those books that is a must read and so I read it. From references to Sun Tzu's words used in movies and elsewhere it seemed like my life would be incomplete without it. It's an oft quoted source for businessmen and warmongers. I learned that a good general is one whose whereabouts are ever-changing so that he is deemed unpredictable. I learned that using fire is advantageous particularly as it's an ideal time to attack the enemy. Also, it is best to tell your troops that they are going to die as they will then likely succeed due to the 'let's go and take out as many of them' attitude that results in being told that they are doomed. It's also important to pay your troops well as it boosts morale. And my personal favourite, knowing that there are five types of spies. One of which is the 'doomed spy' as that means you are captured, converted and sent to spy on your own people and the side that converted you lets your people know you're a spy and thus you die. It also is useful to have about 100,000 men in your troops.
So, I know I'm probably supposed to glean some epiphany towards how to run my cut-throat business or apply it to my next soccer game but I'm afraid all that will stick with me is to be unpredictable, like the general, so as to keep everyone guessing as to what I'll do next.
How can this apply to writing? Writing is war. It's war over characterization, plot, details, and time. Everything we read can spark some future idea that will take shape when we least expect it or as we will it to be. For me, as a novelist, it's the editing and re-editing until I have no desire to read the finished work once it is published. As for the 100 000 troops, those are my words and the minimum I strive for before I complete my work.