The Subversive Copy Editor, by Carol Fisher Saller, was a lovely read. Not a textbook, nor yet a memoir, this book is nonetheless both educational andThe Subversive Copy Editor, by Carol Fisher Saller, was a lovely read. Not a textbook, nor yet a memoir, this book is nonetheless both educational and personable. It's about the life of a copy-editor, and even though Saller works at the prestigious University of Chicago Press (home of the Chicago Manual of Style), her book contains great advice for the lonely freelance copy editor, as well as for the copy editor who is working for a big business.
I enjoyed the basic business sense of this book, the funny anecdotes, the shrewd editing advice, and, honestly, the way Saller's lovely and winsome writing voice just carried me along through the text. Highly recommended for anyone who works on getting books to press. ...more
I just finished this (quite enjoyed it, too!), and while I'd like to go back and take a closer look at some of the exercises, I first wanted to jot doI just finished this (quite enjoyed it, too!), and while I'd like to go back and take a closer look at some of the exercises, I first wanted to jot down a couple of quotations from it that I particularly liked:
"Good first lines hook the reader. They also hook the writer."
So true! Get a first line intriguing enough, and you can't help but write the rest.
And I appreciated this, an excerpt from an interview with Jodi Picoult:
"When I write, I never feel particularly creative. Instead, I see a succession of scenes in my head that, apparently, it's my job to translate into words so that everyone else can see them, too."
That's exactly how it feels to me, but I've never heard it put so well.
"Pen on Fire" was a nice surprise I happened upon during the holiday season. It was interesting but still easy-going, and exactly what I was in the mood for....more
I just got a book that's been on my Amazon wishlist for awhile: Russell T Davies' (and Benjamin Cook's) Dr. Who: The Writer's Tale.
I've been an admirI just got a book that's been on my Amazon wishlist for awhile: Russell T Davies' (and Benjamin Cook's) Dr. Who: The Writer's Tale.
I've been an admirer of his work, and I'm becoming even more admiring of his honesty about his writing process. Some great stuff so far:
When asked if he's ever gone into some tricky situation in order to gather material, he says no, but then says, "Is that true, though? Did I just lie my way out of that? Okay, so I've never sought out an experience just so that I can use it in a script, but every experience, every single one, I'm thinking, this is interesting. And they do find their way into a script in the end. So which comes first? Blimey, that'll keep me awake." (Italics mine.)
On the so-called writer's block: "I never call it writer's block, though. I don't know why, but I sort of react with revulsion to that phrase. I imagine it to mean sitting there with No Ideas At All. For me, it feels more like the ideas just won't take the right shape or form. Do writers ever run out of ideas? Doesn't the block say that something else is wrong? Something bigger? I don't know."
I think he's right. It's always something bigger. (Often, in my experience, acedia.)
And then, when asked if you have to have suffered, in order to write, he answers no. But then says this: "I can't imagine writing and thinking, this is easy. I'm marvelling at those words. This. Is. Easy. They're impossible. I might as well say, 'I'm a Martian.'
"There I go again, saying that you don't have to suffer, while admitting that the process is an act of suffering. Still. No one said that this had to be logical."
His observation about how, even in the midst of a troubling situation, the author part of him is detached and observing and thinking "how interesting!" - oh dear, so familiar. It never turns off, and it does make you feel a little inhuman at times. But only because you're so deeply interested in the human. So weird.
Anyway, fascinating book. You probably want to have watched Dr. Who before reading it, as the book discusses his writing process in putting together series 4 of that show. But this guy is a master storyteller, and it's fascinating to see behind the scenes, into the work of putting that story together.
p.s. I should add, I suppose, so no one picking up this book on my recommendation is surprised, that Mr. Davies is a gay atheist, and that shows a lot in his writing. Which makes sense, your worldview always does (and should). And I think this particular worldview makes this an often depressing read, because it's a bleak worldview. But, if you are an artist, I think there is enough here well-worth reading that it is worth slogging through the hard stuff. Much, I hope, as any Christian writer could get an honest read from a honest atheist, though he'd find some of the Christian's thoughts hard going.
I guess that's as much as to say (though it probably doesn't need to be said), that though I do think there are some things bad enough not to read, I think that we should be as charitable reading people that we disagree with as we would be listening to someone we disagree with, and listen and read the way we'd want to be listened to and read. I guess it's a kind of literary Golden Rule.*
Sorry for the digression. I do think it's worth thinking about though: how can we read with both discernment and charity? Some of it, I think, is also to be reading books where we can expect to do nothing but learn and soak in truth, books like de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life, or Willard's The Divine Conspiracy, to balance out the books where we are learning some things and thinking through others and disagreeing with yet others.
*btw, I also think there are some things that are not worth reading, most of the time, much as there are some people who are not worth having a conversation with, most of the time. Think pornographic books and abusive people. But I think most civilized people who disagree with each other can profitably converse, just as most civilized people who disagree with a nonetheless worthwhile author can profitably read his book. If that's not true, how could any Christian read Plato or Aristotle? And think what we'd miss if we couldn't!...more
I read this on a friend’s recommendation and was glad I did. Though I’m not a screenwriter, and had to disregard some of the advice because of that (eI read this on a friend’s recommendation and was glad I did. Though I’m not a screenwriter, and had to disregard some of the advice because of that (e.g., novelists can handle backstory and internal dialogue in a different manner than screenwriters can), Blake’s advice on story structure and story types was priceless....more