Browsing All Posts filed under »Books & Writing«

Bestsellers with Typos

December 15, 2011 by


I turned towards the phone and wagged my left hand up and down from the elbow, palm up. I was frustrated. “They sell millions of copies. Who edits these things? What’s the copyeditor doing, picking his nose?” “It doesn’t matter,” said my mum. “The plot sells the book.” “I know. I know.” “You can produce all the flawlessly […]

Brief Observations on Self & Character

December 14, 2011 by


When I was young, I had a psychotic break. I don’t remember exactly how long it lasted — it was quite a while before things settled to the point where I could reasonably claim that my experiences were within normal psychological limits. To put it plainly, I went utterly insane for a period of several […]

How I Plot Novels

December 11, 2011 by


My novel begins, invariably, with an image I’m compelled to describe. I take great care with imagery; I like to look at something much more closely than most writers, so I must be certain the image can be fully grasped in few words — otherwise I’ll make it ridiculous, if not pompous. I’ll spend hours […]

Philosophy of Writing – 5 – Get Your Hopes Down

December 9, 2011 by


This series takes an unpopular approach to editing fiction. It’s been said by smart, successful people in the industry that the biggest difference between an unpublished author and a published one is a finished manuscript — so amateur authors had best not spend their time worrying about perfecting their first drafts, and just get it […]

Philosophy of Writing – 4 – Transitions

October 10, 2011 by


I have a troubling habit. When I write I’m often consumed by the need to get from one narrative location to the next through recital of banal happenstance. I invent scenes to fill the gap between coordinates on my character’s path. The only reason these passages exist is because I feel like I can’t cheat […]

How to Edit Fiction – 6 – Disbelief Should be Suspended like Batman over Gotham, not like You over your Bathtub

August 28, 2011 by


You’ll need: your library, the all-powerful key to the ancient catacombs of wonder that is your library (viz., your library card), the internet When I was a little girl, I did this a lot: [Placeholder for photo of a strange man standing on the edge of a jacuzzi tub holding a beer. We hope to […]

The Perfect Words, Chosen

August 16, 2011 by


These deceptively simple words convey this narrator’s personality, his turn of phrase, his outlook on life, even his hobbies. I think the narrator here is Nash himself, given his age at the time the poem was written and the various literary and publishing references (SHRDLU, for example). Notice also Nash’s attention to rhythm and rhyme. […]

How to Edit Fiction – 5 – Dot Yer Eyes, Cross Yer Teas

August 12, 2011 by


Joyous relief, dear friends! Today’s post is the very soul of brevity — and no exercises, to boot. ~~~ ~The Most Essential Thing In Copy Editing~ For heaven’s sake, turn on the editing marks when you’re editing. It makes things approximately eleventy trillion times easier. ~~~ ~Italics, Bold and CAPSLOCK~ Did you know that typing […]

Philosophy of Writing – 3 – Word Salad

July 27, 2011 by


I first heard the term “word salad” in a symbolic logic course. My professor used it to describe a certain type of philosophical discourse: the imprecise, the grandiloquent, and most importantly, the self-defeating or the meaningless. It’s the kind of philosophy that gets parodied — the kind that makes people think my BA is in […]

Philosophy of Writing – 2 – Voice & Stanislavski’s “Systems”

July 21, 2011 by


This is Constantin Stanislavski. If you’ve ever taken an acting class, you’ve studied him. He’s best remembered for his contributions to drama theory: attempts to create training for actors that will help them portray emotion realistically. Stanislavski’s system was at first based on the principle of “Emotional Memory”, the idea that an actor must prepare […]