Here’s a great interview with the writer Jane Burroway, novelist and author of “Writing Fiction,” that talks about how a book will reveal its theme in a series of images. In the novel I’m currently writing, I noticed that the characters kept returning to cemeteries, and came to see that the theme of book was “things buried.” Here, she shares what recurring images of hands revealed to her.
Grazing in the world of language, editing, writing, etc.
Here's someone who's so passionate about accent marks she managed to effect change on the jerseys of Team Mexico. The article includes interesting reflections about how editors arrive at a common version of Spanish in the New York Times Spanish-language edition. We English-language editors living abroad also find ourselves working in an increasingly international style of English.
Technical talk about plot and character usually puts me to sleep — am not proud of that, but much of what I've tried to read on these subjects has struck me as formulaic and shallow. So it's a pleasure to discover Martha Alderson's THE PLOT WHISPERER (thanks, Hannah Taieb!), full of wisdom for novelists, including handy checklists of questions to ask yourself about your story to clarify the protagonist's journey as well as the ultimate aim of the book. Rather than reducing your ms. to a set of devices, this tboughtful guide prods you into a richer understanding of how best to tell your universal story.
Using story cubes for writing prompts with my daughter — she's trying a story using all nine; I went for a five-minute limit using just three. Love the way writing prompts remind us that everything is material, and that even when the well seems dry, surprising stuff can gush out if you set the timer and start putting down words.
Still reaping the rewards of the inaugural Stockholm Writers Festival in terms of writers met, work read, contacts made, inspiration encountered. Thanks to everyone involved for an excellent event and hope to see you next year!
For copyediting nerds, The Independent reveals its change of heart (and style): “No longer will the UK Government, by dint of its cap G, boast an implied superiority over other nations’ governments; nor will certain senior US politicians (such as the Secretary of State) get that extra boost denied to counterparts elsewhere.”
I love the New York Times copy editing quiz. Never quite as easy as it looks. Even after many years combing through the NYT Stylebook and working alongside so many sharp and talented editors, there’s always more to learn, refine — or even just remember.
Says one editor: “The first draft is for the writer. The second draft is for the editor. The last draft is for the reader.” In this piece from The Atlantic, a writer turns out to be grateful that his editor hated his book.
"I like those few hours in the morning before my day has begun where I can slip into my imaginative life almost like a thief."
This piece by Jill Bialosky from Literary Hub talks about that wonderful zone in the early morning, when the coffee is flowing and the rest of the world hasn't yet broken in, when "the veil between the worlds is the thinnest," and we access parts of consciousness that become obscured during the day. I say don't even shower and get dressed — writing in pajamas is part of the magic.
What does doing a crossword puzzle have to do with writing a novel? Quite a lot, according to Ben Dolnick's Opinionator piece.
One of the things Nanowrimo taught me was that I didn't have to immediately understand everything that was going on in the story, or why certain things were happening — the novel itself would explain in due course. In the rush of Nanowrimo, cranking out those 1,666 words a day, I never looked back at what I wrote, and so had only a hazy idea of what was going on in the story. But later, once I read the whole manuscript, loose ends tied themselves together, random incidents were revealed to have larger significance and details thrown in just to increase the word count were revealed as carrying symbolic weight. A novel, like a crossword puzzle, has an internal structure and meaning that will reveal itself if we play along.