Saturday, March 31, 2012

Coming Soon.... A to Z Challenge

I posted my before on my excitement for new months. Now April brings the A to Z challenge, which involves one post per letter of the alphabet. It looks like I posted 25 posts this month, so this will be one more post in one fewer day. Seems doable.




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Anyone else in the challenge? There's still time to join, if you follow the link. 

And welcome if you're new!

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Danger of Leaving Out the Boring Parts

One of the most popular pieces of writing advice is some version of "If it's boring to you when you write it, then it'll surely bore the reader as well." It sounds sensible and logical. Heroically considerate on the writer's part. We all love simple criteria when it comes to complex decisions. It even promises to make the work more scintillating and such.

I've come to think it's dangerous and perhaps counter productive. Here's what I've discovered (through both reading and writing): this advice does not lead to super-taut stories or brilliantly concise prose. Most writers love to have their characters talk and talk. Most writers love to have their characters comment (often with wondrous snark). What's left reads like an underdeveloped screenplay with extra inner monologues thrown in.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Which Authors are the Most Studied?


DG Myers at Commentary Magazine has compiled a list of the 25 most written about American authors according to MLA statistics.

Henry James edges out Faulkner for the top spot. TS Eliot is the top poet. Saul Bellow makes the list, Philip Roth does not. Toni Morrison is the highest ranking living author. Since Ezra Pound ranks fairly highly, I assume that critical studies are included in the number (perhaps even predominate).

From the article:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How Facebook Killed the Party

Yet another dull Spring Break picture.
I blogged before about how agents and industry professionals are worried about social media leading authors to misbehave. Now it seems that social media is curbing bad behavior. From the New York Times:
But today’s spring breakers — at least some of them — say they have been tamed, in part, not by parents or colleges or the fed-up cities they invade, but by the hand-held gizmos they hold dearest and the fear of being betrayed by an unsavory, unsanctioned photo or video popping up on Facebook or YouTube.
How social media tames us:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fixing Bad Habits (Or: Writers and the Power of Habit)

I'm not sure whether or not writers have more bad habits than the average person, but I'm pretty sure they spend more time obsessing about them. Thus the unquestionable relevance of the new book by Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit. The good news, from an interview with the author:
The first surprising thing was how malleable habits are.
How to change them:
...habits can be changed by focusing on the three parts of what I call the habit loop: the cue, the routine, and the reward. You’re much more effective if you focus on understanding the cue and the reward. Then the problematic behavior — the routine — can be shifted much more easily.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lazy Spring Sundays (Or: Stuff I've Been Reading)


I haven't done one of these in a while, so I have about six months of reading I can draw from. This might be necessary if, say, I spend all my week's allotted reading time pinning things on Pinterest. (For more on Pinterest see my previous post.)

The List

1. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green. Kids and cancer, with much humor and much wisdom. This book has been getting a lot of positive press, and it's well deserved. The NYT recently described it incorrectly as "dystopian," which is not accurate, so don't let that discourage you if you're burned out on YA dystopians.

2. The Exegesis of Philip K Dick - Philip K Dick. A bizarre and massive book of letters, visions, dreams, ideas, ramblings, and more. A little PKD in the morning does a lot for one's creative juices.

3. Imagine: How Creativity Works - Jonah Lehrer. A summary of current creativity research. Often anecdotal and not dry. Read his WSJ editorial for the condensed version.

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So what are you reading? Any must reads? Have your spring flowers started blooming?
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