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Wonderbook

Infographic shows you how award-winning science fiction is born - From Jeff Vandermeer (and collaborators) Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction. Trailer, website, interview.
posted by Artw on Oct 25, 2013 - 3 comments

The New York Review of Books turns 50

In February 1963, a new publication took advantage of the New York City printers strike and launched with a daring editorial: It does not, however, seek merely to fill the gap created by the printers’ strike in New York City but to take the opportunity which the strike has presented to publish the sort of literary journal which the editors and contributors feel is needed in America. The New York Review of Books is now 50. [more inside]
posted by mattbucher on Oct 21, 2013 - 7 comments

Buzzfeed Minus GIFs

Buzzfeed without the GIFs - for those that love Buzzfeed's writing but can't stand the pesky GIFs getting in the way.
posted by Artw on Oct 18, 2013 - 27 comments

Fifty or so teenagers, eavesdropping

Your next Young Adult novel, in fragments. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Oct 18, 2013 - 18 comments

Katastichophobia

For your October delight: Top 10 horror movies, as picked by Guardian critics, Ten Exceptionally Well-Written Horror Films, Top Ten Horror-Sci-Fi Films: A Primer And Pseudo-History, The 12 Weirdest Vampire Movies Ever Made, The Top Grossing Scary Movies Of All-Time, and, perhaps most importantly of all: The 25 best horror films on netflix instant.
posted by Artw on Oct 14, 2013 - 239 comments

Monkey. Plane ticket. Dictionary. Go!

The Pen is Mightier than The Diving Elbow Drop Lucha Libre is Mexico's answer to wrestling. Fighters put on masks an duke it out in the ring. In Peru they have Lucha Libro where aspiring authors put on masks go on stage where they are given 3 random words with which they are given 5 minutes to write a short story. The loser has to take off his mask. The winner goes onto another round. The grand prize winner receives a book contract.
posted by 2manyusernames on Oct 5, 2013 - 22 comments

Farewell to Tilting

The most Irish island in the world. Booker Prize winning author Anne Enright travels to the edge of Newfoundland. (single page version, may trigger printer).
posted by rollick on Sep 25, 2013 - 66 comments

Variations on the Goldberg Variations

Why I Hate the Goldberg Variations, by Jeremy Denk, whose new (lovely) recording of the Goldberg Variations is now streaming on NPR. Also by Denk: Hannibal Lecter's Guide to the Goldberg Variations, which explores the famous cannibal killer through the lens of Bach. This is Your Brain on the Goldberg Variations, which gets in-depth on just how the Variations vary.
posted by Rory Marinich on Sep 24, 2013 - 30 comments

How to Write

Writing advice from Oates, Wolfe, Levine, Pynchon, Stein, Welty, DeLillo, Chekhov, Gallant, and Elkin; Baldwin, Miller, Morrison, Vonnegut, Atwood, Nabokov, and Stein again; Maugham, Hughes, Duras, Orwell, Ashbery, Sontag, Creeley, and Steinbeck; O'Connor, Baxter, Didion, Yeats, Hejinian, Cocteau, du Plessix Gray, and Bolaño; Waldrop, Cary, Pessoa, Amis, Carroll, Atwood, and Le Guin; Vinge, Williams, Crane, Creeley once more, Gallant, Vargas Llosa, Mathews, and Wolfe again. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Sep 18, 2013 - 33 comments

And there was wailing and gnashing of teeth

Once upon a time, typographical practice was anarchy. Printers put in all sizes of spaces in haphazard ways, including after periods. Then, a standard emerged: the single space after a period. Unfortunately, the evil typewriter came along, and for some unknown reason, people began to put wider double spaces after periods. Typographers railed against the practice, but they could do nothing. [more inside]
posted by XMLicious on Sep 17, 2013 - 104 comments

A Los Angeles Review of Books essay on Melville by William Giraldi

The Writer As Reader: Melville and his Marginalia In the General Rare Books Collection at Princeton University Library sits a stunning two-volume edition of John Milton that once belonged to Herman Melville. Melville's tremendous debt to Milton — and to Homer, Virgil, the Bible, and Shakespeare — might be evident to anyone who has wrestled with the moral and intellectual complexity that lends Moby Dick its immortal heft, but to see Melville's marginalia in his 1836 Poetical Works of John Milton is to understand just how intimately the author of the great American novel engaged with the author of the greatest poem in English. Checkmarks, underscores, annotations, and Xs reveal the passages in Paradise Lost and other poems that would have such a determining effect on Melville's own work.
posted by jason's_planet on Sep 1, 2013 - 11 comments

Here I am, Rock Me

Writer Dan Devine reminisces about getting married during Hurricane Irene.
posted by Potomac Avenue on Aug 27, 2013 - 5 comments

Letting Go

The Big Father Essay. Some readers may find sections disturbing.
posted by zarq on Aug 21, 2013 - 6 comments

The Travelers and the Wanderers

Songs from the Black Chair, published by Bellevue Literary Review in 2004, from a 2005 memoir by the same name, by Charles Barber
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Aug 19, 2013 - 4 comments

A brother in trouble.

A brother in trouble. Author John Niven reflects on the suicide of his brother.
posted by ClanvidHorse on Aug 18, 2013 - 15 comments

All the princesses know kung-fu now

Sherlock Holmes gets to be brilliant, solitary, abrasive, Bohemian, whimsical, brave, sad, manipulative, neurotic, vain, untidy, fastidious, artistic, courteous, rude, a polymath genius. Female characters get to be Strong. - I hate Strong Female Characters.
posted by Artw on Aug 15, 2013 - 115 comments

The view from here

This is my window. Or my windows—the view from my living room, where I sit and write. Might not seem very inspiring. I wish I could offer green mossy lava, roaring waves, a glacier mountain top. I do have other spaces—in an abandoned powerstation, a favorite fisherman’s cafe by the harbor, a summer house on the arctic circle—but this is my honest view, what I really see most of the days. This house was built in the 1960s when people were fed up with lava and mountains; they were migrating to the growing suburbs to create a new view for themselves. The young couple who dug the foundation with their own hands dreamed of a proper garden on this barren, rocky strip of land. They dreamed of trees, flowers, shelter from the cold northern breeze. What is special depends on where you are, and here, the trees are actually special. They were planted fifty years ago like summer flowers, not expected to live or grow more than a meter. The rhododendron was considered a miracle, not something that could survive a winter. It looks tropical, with Hawaiian-looking pink flowers; Skúli, the man who built the house and sold it to me half a century later, took special pride in it. I am not a great gardener. We are thinking of buying an apple tree, though they don’t really thrive in this climate. I would plant it like a flower, not really expect it to grow, and hope for a miracle. —Andri Snær Magnason [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Aug 9, 2013 - 3 comments

'The theme of "Charlotte's Web" is that a pig shall be saved'

"I haven't told why I wrote the book, but I haven't told you why I sneeze, either. A book is a sneeze." A lovely little letter from E. B. White.
posted by Rory Marinich on Aug 5, 2013 - 18 comments

No other business offers a man his daily bread upon such joyful terms.

It is doubtless tempting to exclaim against the ignorant bourgeois; yet it should not be forgotten, it is he who is to pay us, and that (surely on the face of it) for services that he shall desire to have performed. Here also, if properly considered, there is a question of transcendental honesty. To give the public what they do not want, and yet expect to be supported: we have there a strange pretension, and yet not uncommon, above all with painters. The first duty in this world is for a man to pay his way; when that is quite accomplished, he may plunge into what eccentricity he likes; but emphatically not till then. Till then, he must pay assiduous court to the bourgeois who carries the purse. Robert Louis Stevenson on art as a career.
posted by shivohum on Aug 1, 2013 - 20 comments

Ever Upward - blogging about Space for Tor.com

Ever Upward isn't just a blog about space but a love letter to the wonder and beauty lurking in the science of space. It is written, and occasionally drawn, by MeFite Narrative Priorities [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Aug 1, 2013 - 4 comments

Fictitious Minneapolis street addresses: A guide for writers.

Let’s say you’re a writer, working a novel set in Minneapolis. Your protagonist arrives home after a long day of doing whatever it is your protagonist does all day. To this point, you’ve been very specific with local landmarks and a general feeling of the city — your protagonist rides the 21A, eats breakfast at the Grand Cafe, and meets his or her attorney in an office on the 12th floor of the Rand Tower. All good so far. You’ve set the scene very effectively. People are going to say, “This is a great Minneapolis novel" after they read it. However, the time has now come for you to insert a specific street address into the text. You like specifics, and you need a real-sounding mailing address for, say, a situation where the protagonist receives a mysterious letter. How will you accomplish this? Here you have a problem. You only have two options, neither one very good. [more inside]
posted by cthuljew on Jul 31, 2013 - 104 comments

Underlined and triple-starred

By Heart is a series on The Atlantic's website where writers speak about their favorite passages, each illustrated by Doug McLean. Here are a few of the entries so far: Stephen King on two opening lines, Hanan Al-Shaykh on One Thousand and One Nights, Susan Choi on The Great Gatsby, Jessica Francis Kane on Marcus Aurelius, Fay Weldon on The Myth of Sisyphus, Adam Mansbach on Montaigne, Ayana Mathis on Osip Mandelstam, Anthony Marra on Jesus' Son, and Mohsin Hamid on Haruki Murakami.
posted by Kattullus on Jul 29, 2013 - 7 comments

We've got five years, stuck on my eyes!

Download The Stories: Five Years of Original Fiction on Tor.com Nearly 4000 pages of some of your favorite authors for free. [Past offers not valid in all countries. Sorry if yours is one of these.]
posted by cjorgensen on Jul 18, 2013 - 29 comments

Under the Dumb

Ken Levine's network notes for Under The Dome, perhaps not the best example of Stephen King's TV work.
posted by Artw on Jul 17, 2013 - 165 comments

"The alphabet? You'd better learn to listen, kid."

A clever bit of constrained writing in song from Matilda the Musical and Tim Minchin. [more inside]
posted by Gordafarin on Jul 16, 2013 - 5 comments

Changing the Creepy Guy Narrative

How being a writer helped me rewrite a sexist trope...for real. Submitted for your approval: a writer (Chris Brecheen) uses his narrative skills to turn the tables on an everyday creeper.
posted by ShutterBun on Jul 13, 2013 - 166 comments

Omniscient spung

"Imagine a female pov character is going along about her protagonist adventure, seeing things from her perspective of the world as written in third person. She hears, sees, considers, and makes decisions and reacts based on her view of the world and what she is aware of and encounters. Abruptly, a description is dropped into the text of her secondary sexual characteristics usually in the form of soft-focus Playboy-Magazine-style sexualized kitten-bunny-I-would-fuck-her-in-a-heartbeat lustrous-eyes-and-nipples phrases. Her breasts have just become omniscient breasts." -- Kate Elliott on the male (and female) gaze in literature.
posted by MartinWisse on Jul 5, 2013 - 132 comments

Cor, a slap up feed of comics links!

In the wake of the rumoured demise of The Dandy, artist Jamie Smart writes about the necessity of All-ages comics and how to make them work. Bonus links: The origins of new British weekly kids comic, The Phoenix. Al Ewing on that most British weekly comicsy of institutions: The readers voice. Tips for aspiring comics creators.
posted by Artw on Jul 4, 2013 - 18 comments

"Directing is about deciding - when you direct, DECIDE."

Stuart Cohen on when The Thing became John Carpenter's The Thing. [via]
posted by brundlefly on Jun 28, 2013 - 33 comments

Bewilderment, speculation and plain old fashioned abuse

"If Shirley Jackson’s intent was to symbolize into complete mystification, and at the same time be gratuitously disagreeable, she certainly succeeded" - The New Yorker takes a look at the over 300 letters in reaction to The Lottery
posted by Artw on Jun 27, 2013 - 44 comments

The Cosmology of Serialized Television

Perhaps the most dangerous effect of the Big Crunch mentality has been to make television creators think of themselves as auteurs, to convince them that in spite of the massive interference with their work, they can somehow create a work of aesthetic integrity and sociological insight even if they don’t know where it’s going. Well, sometimes you get lucky, but more often, the result is disaster, and the effort spent toward that failure is redirected from where it would be better put: creating great trash. An essay on the challenges and pitfalls of writing serialized TV plots from The American Reader. [more inside]
posted by chavenet on Jun 23, 2013 - 48 comments

Once you have found her, never let her go.

Your parent dies. You hurt. You weep. You mourn. You do and say the necessary things even as your daemon’s disciplined askesis has you (against your will) coldly taking notes on what the emotion feels like, how others around you react to the death, what the corpse of your parent looks like, how you feel while looking down at it, what voids there are in that feeling, what pretenses, what posturings. It's all part of finding your daemon that dwells perpetually in the Condition of Fire. Other entries in Dan Simmons' series On Writing Well.
posted by shivohum on Jun 11, 2013 - 29 comments

Beyond ‘Game of Thrones’

The LA Times Hero Complex looks at diversity in SF and Fantasy fiction.
posted by Artw on Jun 9, 2013 - 45 comments

I type therefore I am

This sheer quantity is in itself something new. All future histories of modern language will be written from a position of explicit and overwhelming information — a story not of darkness and silence but of data, and of the verbal outpourings of billions of lives. Where once words were written by the literate few on behalf of the many, now every phone and computer user is an author of some kind. And — separated from human voices — the tasks to which typed language, or visual language, is being put are steadily multiplying. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jun 7, 2013 - 11 comments

Writers manipulating readers

"I've been thinking recently about the way readers come to be in sympathy with characters in a story. This is something that isn't talked about much, and when it is it seems to be in terms of how to manipulate the reader. Indeed, I stopped reading Orson Scott Card for a different reason than the reason everyone else stopped reading him -- long ago he said in a book on how to write that you get reader sympathy by taking a sympathetic character, preferably a child, and doing something terrible to them, like for instance torturing them. Once I knew he was doing this on purpose it was like "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain", I couldn't enjoy reading because I felt manipulated. Also, torturing children? Really? That's the only way to make me care? I don't think so." -- Jo Walton's Wiscon speech on how to make readers care about your characters.
posted by MartinWisse on Jun 5, 2013 - 42 comments

Proletariat isn’t just the name of a race horse my family owns

I’m 23 And I Still Have A Babysitter! I Really Hope This Is How You File For Divorce! Wait, What is the Stock Market? There’s Nothing Punk Rock About Sriracha Anymore. All this and more from Thought Brochure: Where Thoughts Are Thinked. (some stuff NSFW) [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on May 30, 2013 - 58 comments

from "proteaform" mass of modern learning to "faustian fustian" of words

Finnegans Wake, Joyce's famously unreadable masterpiece (read it online here), was considerably more readable in one of its earlier drafts. Watch Joyce cross out decipherable words and replace them with less decipherable ones! Watch him end, not with a whimper, but with a slightly less impressive whimper! Sadly, Shem's schoolbook, which in the finished version is a House of Leaves-esque compendium of side columns and footnotes, was not written until much later (according to the footnotes of that section). The introduction to this draft by David Hayman, who assembled it, is worth a read.
posted by Rory Marinich on May 20, 2013 - 54 comments

"Learn as much by writing as by reading."

First editions, second thoughts. [The Guardian] "Interactive: From Amsterdam to Wolf Hall, Booker winners and bestsellers – authors annotate their own first editions.
posted by Fizz on May 18, 2013 - 2 comments

"A finished work is exactly that, requires resurrection." ~ John Cage

In the beginning, Phillip Patterson decided to write out every word in the Bible.
posted by Fizz on May 15, 2013 - 21 comments

Jacques Barzun, Grandfather, Advisor, Editor, Scholar

Two lengthy appreciations of Jacques Barzun's influence: Barzun's grandson remembers the letters of his well-known grandfather, and Helen Hazen reminisces about Barzun's unexpected effort to help her write her first book.
posted by cgc373 on May 15, 2013 - 2 comments

“Don’t go around asking the question, ‘Is this character likeable?’

Claire Messud: “A woman’s rant” [National Post] "Over the last week, discussion surrounding Claire Messud’s new novel, The Woman Upstairs, has shifted from the book to an interview its author recently gave to Publishers Weekly, in which Messud took issue with the following question: “I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you? Her outlook is almost unbearably grim.” [more inside]
posted by Fizz on May 10, 2013 - 23 comments

"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

My Psychic Garburator by Margaret Atwood [The New York Review of Books]
"Most dreams of writers aren’t about dead people or writing, and—like everyone else’s dreams—they aren’t very memorable. They just seem to be the products of a psychic garburator chewing through the potato peels and coffee grounds of the day and burping them up to you as mush."
[more inside]
posted by Fizz on May 8, 2013 - 17 comments

"Publishing is tremendously susceptible to the availability heuristic"

What Is the Business of Literature?
Publishing is a word that, like the book, is almost but not quite a proxy for the “business of literature.” Current accounts of publishing have the industry about as imperiled as the book, and the presumption is that if we lose publishing, we lose good books. Yet what we have right now is a system that produces great literature in spite of itself. We have come to believe that the taste-making, genius-discerning editorial activity attached to the selection, packaging, printing, and distribution of books to retailers is central to the value of literature. We believe it protects us from the shameful indulgence of too many books by insisting on a rigorous, abstemious diet. Critiques of publishing often focus on its corporate or capitalist nature, arguing that the profit motive retards decisions that would otherwise be based on pure literary merit. But capitalism per se and the market forces that both animate and pre-suppose it aren’t the problem. They are, in fact, what brought literature and the author into being.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 27, 2013 - 62 comments

Bolaño Dia 2013

Sunday, April 28, would have been Roberto Bolaño's 60th birthday. The Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona is holding an event that day, in conjunction with their recent exhibit of Bolaño's archive, to celebrate the life and work of the writer. Or if you're not in Barcelona, the celebration is #DiaBolaño on twitter. [more inside]
posted by mattbucher on Apr 25, 2013 - 10 comments

Life is a little like lion-taming, wouldn’t you say?

Joe Posnanski, 2011's National Sportswriter of the Year, has an incredible portfolio of work. He also wrote 'Paterno', and writes for Sports on Earth. Previously, we addressed our tremendous respect and adoration for renowned film critic, courageous fighter, and man-about-town Roger Ebert. Today, on Posnanski's personal blog, an incredible treat: Roger Ebert's Opening Sentences. [more inside]
posted by eenagy on Apr 22, 2013 - 10 comments

How I Met My Dead Parents

Going through my parents' stuff didn't make me suddenly miss them, but I became more intrigued by them every day. I wanted to know more and more about them, to solve their mysteries. At the same time, I felt a corresponding, if conflicting, urge to speak, or write, about what many people seemed to think was unspeakable: my ever-present lack of grief. So I decided to combine these seemingly divergent impulses into an Tumblr blog called My Dead Parents, which I kept anonymous both out of respect for my family and because, after years of writing fiction, I wasn't sure if I could handle revealing so much about myself in writing.
Anya Yurchyshyn writes about rediscovering her parents through their letters, after their deaths.
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 20, 2013 - 12 comments

"I'm yours again. I always enjoy seeing what happens to me."

After years of silence, enigmatic programmer/musician/surrealist why the lucky stiff is publishing to the web again (temporarily). Five days ago he released a number of short collages; today, his site is outputting a number of stories and essays, which are being collected in several Scribd repositories. _why writes about a strange old Oprah show starring guests who've removed themselves from society [parts 2 3 4 5 6], discussing M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening with a friend [2 3 4 5 6], and suffering a personal crisis after reading the complete works of Kafka [2 3 4 5 6 7]. (One final story, "Dentist", has been uploaded to a public Dropbox account [2 3 4 5 6 7 8].) There's also this somewhat ominous web site. [more inside]
posted by Rory Marinich on Apr 18, 2013 - 25 comments

How amazing is my thought!

Lewis Thomas (1913-1993) was a physician and essayist, writing gracefully on topics as varied as language, nuclear war, and our excellent health and deplorable health-care system (PDF). He believed that the existence of Bach vindicates humanity, that "ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment", and that the Earth is perhaps best thought of as a cell. A three-time winner of the National Book Award, Thomas authored Lives of a Cell, which was voted the 11th-best nonfiction work of the 20th century by the Modern Library.
posted by seemoreglass on Apr 8, 2013 - 15 comments

Writers, rebels and diarists, remember rule #1: buy low, sell high.

The Italian producer of the restarted Moleskine notebooks has taken the company public. The IPO is being managed by Goldman Sachs, BNP Paribas, and UBS.
posted by rhombus on Apr 3, 2013 - 89 comments

________________________

Fuck the straight line. by Chuck Wendig
posted by Fizz on Apr 2, 2013 - 50 comments

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