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INTERVIEWER: "Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?" HEMINGWAY: "Getting the words right."

To Use and Use Not: [NYTimes.com] "In an interview in The Paris Review in 1958 Ernest Hemingway made an admission that has inspired frustrated novelists ever since: The final words of “A Farewell to Arms,” his wartime masterpiece, were rewritten “39 times before I was satisfied.” A new edition of “A Farewell to Arms,” which was originally published in 1929, will be released next week, including all the alternate endings, along with early drafts of other passages in the book."
posted by Fizz on Jul 8, 2012 - 19 comments

You eat too fast, and I understand why your antidyspeptic pill-makers cover your walls, your forests even, with their advertisements.

In 1891 author and lecturer ”Max O’Rell” (being the pen name of one Léon Paul Blouet) published an amusing account of his travels through the States and Eastern Canada - "A Frenchman In America" - that, along with the charming illustrations, reflect on then popular national stereotypes and character and is presented on Project Gutenberg in its entirely. (via)
posted by The Whelk on Jul 7, 2012 - 16 comments

Fore Sale

"I had these clubs when I was a young bachelor, hair down to my shoulders, tearing up the town in a 1990 Volvo 740 SEL with the sunroof open and the road before me like some great American Dream ready to be snatched, the way candy is from a baby, or a kiss from an easy and drunk woman."

Writer Marc Lewis is selling his awful golf clubs.
posted by mattdidthat on Jun 29, 2012 - 21 comments

The frantic career of the eyes

Picturing Books: What do we see when we read? (Other than words on a page.) What do we picture in our minds? A consideration by Knopf's senior designer Peter Mendulsund. [more inside]
posted by shakespeherian on Jun 27, 2012 - 22 comments

The Viable Zombie

“[...] it took more than a dozen calls to work out the details of her zombie contagion. “After about the 17th time,” says McGuire, “I called and said, ‘If I did this, this, this, this, this, this and this, could I raise the dead?’ And got, ‘Don’t … don’t do that.’ And at that point, I knew I had a viable virus.”
posted by batmonkey on Jun 27, 2012 - 70 comments

Presto! A Helical Hem

1,143,839,622,748,050,000,000,000,000 Sonnet Anagrams and oodles of other oddities from Mike Keith involving constrained writing, mathematics, music, and the number π.
posted by Wolfdog on Jun 26, 2012 - 12 comments

}}} so — ;;;;[blacked out ]] # # # – do you have my (keys)}} ?

Drunk texts from famous authors. (More good ones in the comments)
posted by Potomac Avenue on Jun 19, 2012 - 40 comments

Imagine one percent, 129000 times

"Amazon’s markup of digital delivery to indie authors is ~129,000%" - author Andrew Hyde reviews the take for the most popular digital publishing platforms
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Jun 15, 2012 - 48 comments

a Wikipedia for your life

Cowbird.com is a simple tool for telling stories, and a public library of human experience, incorporating text, photos, sound, subtitles, roles, relationships, maps, tags, timelines, dedications, and characters. These are the Sagas so far.
posted by Potomac Avenue on Jun 13, 2012 - 8 comments

The Stephen King Universe Flow Chart

Gillian James charts the connections in the Stephen King universe* Meanwhile The Guardian is rereading King begining with Carrie and Salems Lot, CNN has discovered The Gospel of Stephen King, and in further Castle Rock news a new movie version of It is being made.
* Not including The Dark Tower
posted by Artw on Jun 11, 2012 - 70 comments

Pixar story rules

22 Pixar rules for storytelling
posted by Artw on Jun 8, 2012 - 142 comments

"We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master."

The Hemingway Papers: The legendary writer’s reporting from the Toronto Star archives, featuring historical annotations by William McGeary, a former editor who researched Hemingway’s columns extensively for the newspaper, along with new insight and analysis from the Star’s team of Hemingway experts.
posted by Fizz on May 28, 2012 - 13 comments

We're watching your comments for correct comma usage.

"Who knew people were so interested in commas?" Ben Yagoda has written three NYT pieces on correct comma usage: Fanfare for the Comma Man, The Most Comma Mistakes, and Some Comma Questions.
posted by hypotheticole on May 26, 2012 - 62 comments

The Golden Age of Television

"TV is where writers get to tell interesting stories right now, because writers, for the most part, run television." Matthew Weiner of Mad Men, Vince Gilligan of Breaking Bad and David Milch of Deadwood talk to GQ about writing for television. Also: The New Rules of TV everything you need to know about the Golden Age of Television. Want to hear even more about the world of writing rooms, showrunners and screenwriting? Check out the Nerdist Writer's Panel Podcast.
posted by Artw on May 23, 2012 - 10 comments

“I suppose the first thing I should do is apologize for the billions of dead.”

A famously reclusive writer, John Swartzwelder is responsible for many of The Simpson's iconic episodes. He stopped writing for the show in '04 and began to self-publish a series of increasingly absurd Sci-Fi Detective novels.
posted by The Whelk on May 16, 2012 - 47 comments

Player of Games

Iain M. Banks talks about his favorite games.
posted by Artw on May 9, 2012 - 72 comments

Future Football Stars: The NFL Is About To Destroy Your Life

The game that you fell in love with as a child will seem lost; a thump on the floorboard of your new Mercedes, swerved at high speeds to avoid a shadow in the night. The sights and sounds and smells of football, sensual memories that stir the passions in the soul, will be reconceived and recategorized, buried behind newer, odorless versions.

Former Bronco Nate Jackson offers wisdom on the trappings of stardom to two young draftees.
posted by swift on May 1, 2012 - 18 comments

¶ THANK YOU FOR YOUR NOTE.

David Foster Wallace Writes to Don DeLillo: Among the many curiosities of this correspondence: “No offense intended” by the card’s image (a book cover from Sheldon Lord’s A Woman Must Love), the mention of Jonathan Franzen’s New Yorker piece on William Gaddis, the brick shithouse of a palm tree, and a request to eyeball DeLillo’s “new novel” (Cosmopolis?). So many of the sentences create space for wondering what more there is to know. [Via: The Outlet] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Apr 13, 2012 - 21 comments

"...for the next tour, I’ll either be calm and collected or nervous with a dangerously out-of-control boner."

The Awl: Nine Writers and Publicists Tell All About Readings and Book Tours
posted by zarq on Apr 12, 2012 - 18 comments

National Magazine Awards 2012

The National Magazine Awards 2012 Finalists were announced. Links inside. [more inside]
posted by AceRock on Apr 3, 2012 - 15 comments

"Suffering is a key essential to great writing. But there’s probably enough suffering in your life already—or suffering will come on its own."

There are so many reasons not to write. But few are any better than because you are going to get laid. That is a good reason. Everything else, all these other distractions are meaningless. Friends betray you. There will always be another party. I remember when John Updike blew off some big important New Yorker Party because he was writing. The only thing I ever liked from him was the story about the supermarket, but he lived in the town I lived in and I used to ride my bike past his house and wonder what he was up to, typing away in his house. Adultery stories mostly. But it must have been unbearable for John Updike to show up at parties anyway. Everyone bothering him for something. Everything in the world is trying to distract you from getting something on the page. Our own doubts about everything we do is crushing. Don’t let it crush you. No one has any idea what they’re doing.

posted by deathpanels on Apr 2, 2012 - 51 comments

“Digitize Her!”

Earth, 2147. The legacy of the Metal Wars, where man fought machines—and machines won. Bio-Dreads — monstrous creations that hunt down human survivors... and digitize them!
In 1987, before he created Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski was a writer for Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, a live-action sci-fi show for kids. 24 episodes were produced. Straczynski wrote or co-wrote 14 of them, including multi-episode plot arcs. A line of interactive toys brought the battle into kids’ living rooms, and Captain Power was also one of the very first shows on television to feature computer animation in every episode. But in an attempt to appeal to both children and the adults who watched with them, the campy show included some concepts and scenes critics deemed too violent for children and lasted only a single season in syndication. The full run of the show has now been uploaded to Youtube. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 1, 2012 - 28 comments

something about bells, balls and bulls

“Vermin!” “Abortion!” “Sewer-rat!” “Crritic!”
posted by latkes on Mar 29, 2012 - 12 comments

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

The Nelson Mandela Digital Archive has gone live. The archive organizes Mandela’s papers chronologically and thematically. You can jump into sections covering his Early Life, Prison Years, and Presidential Years, or explore his extensive book collections and work with youngsters or see his first recorded interview from 1961. (via)
posted by infini on Mar 29, 2012 - 2 comments

I get up in the morning and ask: What if?

"I get up every morning at 5, go for a half-hour walk in the desert, come home and have a cup of coffee, sit down at the desk and ask myself what I would say if I were him, and what I would do if I were her. I think curiosity is actually a moral virtue. I think a person who is curious is slightly more moral than one who is not curious, because sometimes he enters into the skin of another. I think a curious person is even a better lover than one who is not curious. Even my political approach to the Palestinian question, for example, sprang from curiosity. I am not a Middle East expert or a historian or a strategist. I simply asked myself, at a very young age, what it would be like if I were one of them. So, that’s what I do − get up in the morning and ask myself: What if?" - Israeli writer Amos Oz reflects on his life, on Israel, on writing, and discusses his newest work [more inside]
posted by beisny on Mar 29, 2012 - 4 comments

"Liven up your results by reporting them in furlongs, chaldrons, and fluid scruples."

How to Write Like a Scientist
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Mar 24, 2012 - 67 comments

Zone of Thought

Vernor Vinge is optimistic about the collapse of civilization
posted by Artw on Mar 22, 2012 - 47 comments

"Try as I could, I couldn't get past the first sentence."

In June 1979, I left Paris, returning home to San Francisco without saying farewell to Barthes. Why advertise my failure? I left Paris without fulfilling my reason for coming. His letter arrived in October. Barthes explained that he was retiring from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes at the end of the year. If I wished to complete my thesis under his direction, then I would have to have it written and in his hands by the 15th of December. No extension was possible. The date was a deadline. "A vous de jouer," he wrote. "Your move."
- Deadline [pdf] by Stewart Lindh, Roland Barthes' last doctoral student, is an account of how he wrote his Ph.D. thesis.
posted by Kattullus on Mar 18, 2012 - 28 comments

The wizard under the hill

Alan Garner's Weirdstone of Brisingamen trilogy is to be concluded with Boneland, over 50 years after it started.
posted by Artw on Mar 16, 2012 - 30 comments

Cliched Dialogue is My Middle Name

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Don’t even go there! You know as well as I do, I’ve literally been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and to be honest with you at the end of the day when push comes to shove and it all boils down to it if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Know what I mean? Basically, what I’m trying to say is with all due respect between you and me screenwriting is not rocket science, it’s about breaking the mold, thinking outside the box, giving it 110% 24/7. And I think we can all agree clichés suck but, hey, it’s a job. You gotta do what you gotta do. Just remember you’re writing for an audience and there’s no “I” in . . . you get the picture.
Definitive List of Cliched Dialogue, Go Into The Story
posted by ob1quixote on Mar 11, 2012 - 114 comments

Revenge Of The Fan Fic

One of the most popular stories on the Amazon Kindle marketplace is ...Wesley Crusher Slash Fic?. (i09)
posted by The Whelk on Mar 10, 2012 - 23 comments

Strong Female Characters

‘Tough, Cold, Terse, Taciturn and Prone to Not Saying Goodbye When They Hang Up the Phone’ - Is the fabled "Strong Female Characters" a bad thing? Counterpoints from Mur Lafferty and Charlie Jane Anders. Obligatory Kate Beaton link.
posted by Artw on Mar 6, 2012 - 31 comments

Microsoft Word and writing

Has Microsoft Word affected the way we work? "Consider first the name that the computer industry assigned to it: word processor. The obvious analogy is with the food processor, a motorised culinary device that reduces everything to undifferentiated mush."
posted by anothermug on Mar 4, 2012 - 96 comments

"...whatever job you take, you're going to spend a lot of time there. You should try to make it fun."

In 2007, the Madison (WI) Police Department hired their first civilian Public Information Officer: former reporter Joel DeSpain. Over the last five years, Mr. DeSpain has reportedly combined "humor, a flair for the dramatic and sense of the absurd", and turned the mundane Madison Police Blotter into an "art form and a thing of joy." So Why Has Madison Wisconsin Has Become the Weird News Capitol of the Midwest? Meet the United States’ most whimsical police reporter. (Last one's a gawker link. If you dislike their site / interface, have no fear: all reports in that article (plus four extras) can be found after the jump.) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 28, 2012 - 19 comments

"The only answer I received from Paypal was silence."

Paypal is coming down hard on online erotica retailers. The service has sent demands to such ebook self-publishing sites as Smashwords, AllRomanceEbooks and Bookstrand, demanding that they remove all titles containing bestiality, rape-for-titillation, and incest- including the popular 'pseudo-incest' category of stepparent or stepsibling sex. [more inside]
posted by showbiz_liz on Feb 28, 2012 - 56 comments

The Chinese Typewriter

As you can see, the [Chinese] typewriter is extremely complicated and cumbersome. The main tray — which is like a typesetter's font of lead type — has about two thousand of the most frequent characters. Two thousand characters are not nearly enough for literary and scholarly purposes, so there are also a number of supplementary trays from which less frequent characters may be retrieved when necessary. What is even more intimidating about a Chinese typewriter is that the characters as seen by the typist are backwards and upside down! [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Feb 27, 2012 - 43 comments

Heart-wrenching

What it feels like to have your spouse die. This left me speechless.
posted by rahulrg on Feb 26, 2012 - 52 comments

Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

If you use Americanisms just to show you know them, people may find you a tad tiresome, so be discriminating.
You may have to think harder if you are not to use jargon, but you can still be precise.
Use all metaphors, dead or alive, sparingly, otherwise you will make trouble for yourself.
Some words add nothing but length to your prose.

(Notes from The Economist's style guide.)
posted by Joey Bagels on Feb 24, 2012 - 126 comments

The Most Dangerous Man in Publishing

Barney Rosset, former owner of the influential Grove Press and Evergreen Review, boundary-shattering publisher of Tropic of Cancer, Waiting for Godot, and Naked Lunch, and U.S. distributor of I Am Curious (Yellow), died yesterday at the age of 90.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Feb 22, 2012 - 30 comments

The Craziest Magazine Ever

The Police Gazette had it all: misogyny, violence, racism, and venereal disease. It was yellow journalism concentrated into its purest form (SL Cracked List).
posted by reenum on Feb 21, 2012 - 55 comments

Are facts stupid?

"Readers who demand verifiable truth in nonfiction—who were upset about James Frey, for example—are unsophisticated and ignorant, D’Agata said, and he wants to change that." Dan Kois reviews The Lifespan of a Fact, the transcript of the editorial battle between author and fact-checker on John D'agata's piece in the Believer (excerpt; full article requires payment) on the suicide of Levi Presley, who killed himself by jumping off the observation deck of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas in 2002.
posted by shivohum on Feb 16, 2012 - 107 comments

Digital Images are SomeThing to aspire to? (A reflection on Hito Steyerl's proposal)

Artist and film-maker, Hito Steyerl, asks us to stand shoulder to shoulder with our digital equivalents. Digital images are Things (like you and me) - a plethora of compressed, corrupted representations pushed and pulled through increasingly policed and capitalised information networks. If 80% of all internet traffic* is SPAM - a liberated excess withdrawn** from accepted channels of communication - perhaps it is in The Poor Image we find our closest kin? [more inside]
posted by 0bvious on Feb 16, 2012 - 5 comments

Janet Flanner

Janet Flanner began her career at The New Yorker composing evocative and cogent dispatches from Europe, writing nearly seven hundred Letters from Paris under the nom de plume Genêt, from 1925 to 1975. In between these, she contributed Profiles, Reporter at Large dispatches, and other Letters from around the globe. In a Postscript published after she died, in 1978, editor-in-chief William Shawn wrote of his prolific correspondent: "Her eye never became jaded, her ardor for what was new and alive never diminished, and her language remained restless. She was a stylist who devoted her style, bedazzling and heady in itself, to the subtle task of conveying the spirit of a subtle people." [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Feb 15, 2012 - 7 comments

Go North

Playfic is a community for writing, sharing, and playing interactive fiction games (aka “text adventures”) entirely from your browser. [more inside]
posted by muckster on Feb 15, 2012 - 15 comments

'The album was created with no talking. It's telepathy – Wobble and me just have that'

How we made: Jah Wobble and Keith Levene on Public Image Ltd's Metal Box. [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Feb 15, 2012 - 11 comments

yWriter

Since its last* appearance in the blue, yWriter has been updated to version 5. Designed specifically for novels, this freeware "contains no adverts, unwanted web toolbars, desktop search programs or other cruft".
posted by Trurl on Feb 11, 2012 - 56 comments

404: Sky not found

Why William Gibson Distrusts Aging Futurists’ Nostalgia
posted by Artw on Feb 8, 2012 - 59 comments

"...though we may have our differences, we are one people, and we are one nation, united by a common creed."

Founded in 1857, The Atlantic is one of the oldest publications still being produced in the US. They have created a commemorative issue for the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War that includes articles published in the magazine over a century ago, an extensive gallery of images, as well as a few essays and analyses by modern writers, including President Obama. Editor's note. (Via: James Fallows' Reddit AMA) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 8, 2012 - 22 comments

It’s kind of like making children

David Cronenberg talks to the LA Review of Books about making movies
posted by Artw on Jan 29, 2012 - 14 comments

Read twice, pass to your left.

A list of pothead novels.
posted by stinkycheese on Jan 28, 2012 - 61 comments

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