Posts Tagged ‘books’

Brian Dettmer’s book excavations

In Off-Topic on May 1, 2012 at 8:16 am

book autopsies, brian dettmer

I’m not generally an advocate for the destruction of books, but then again I wouldn’t say this counts as destruction. Read the rest of this entry »


Great characters: Perfecting imperfection

In Writing on April 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm

In yesterday’s post, I talked about how you should be willing to put your characters through Hell – to punish them, hurt them, and generally make them wish they were dead (or, in some cases, just actually make them dead). This is important even for your best characters, your favorite characters and your most likeable characters.

But what does ‘likeable’ mean here? In everyday life, ‘likeable’ is more or less synonymous with ‘nice.’ Someone who is likeable is someone who does nice things, who says nice things and thinks nice thoughts. The best characters, though, are generally not entirely likeable in this sense. If yesterday’s post was about killing your darlings, today’s post is about making them deserve it just a bit. Read the rest of this entry »

Kill your darlings (or at least make them wish they were dead)

In Writing on April 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm
Medieval torture rack

Medieval torture rack (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The advice to ‘kill your darlings’ or ‘kill your babies’ is dispensed so often in writing circles that it ranks among the most over-used writing clichés (right up there with ‘show, don’t tell’).

What it means is that you need to be ruthless in your willingness to cut sections of your writing that don’t work to strengthen it — even if it’s some of your favorite stuff. If it doesn’t serve the piece overall, it’s got to go.

But I like to take this advice in a second way: as a directive to treat your favorite characters just as ruthlessly as your favorite sentences. You need to put them through Hell, run them through the ringer, and — if it serves the piece as a whole — kill ’em too. Read the rest of this entry »

Books will survive, even if publishers don’t

In O'Pinions on April 23, 2012 at 8:13 pm

A Picture of an eBookLast week an editorial by Mark Coker was posted on, ominously titled ‘A dark day for the future of books,’ about how the Department of Justice recently charged Apple and five large publishers* with conspiring to raise the price of eBooks – and how a ruling against these behemoths could have unintended consequences that hurt publishers and (as the title portends) cast a dark shadow over the future of books themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

Books about books: Required reading for writers

In Writing on April 9, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Every serious writer — even if they plan on breaking every rule it contains — should have a copy of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, but what else should be sitting on your shelf next to the dictionary, thesaurus, rhyming dictionary and … rhyming thesaurus? Read the rest of this entry »

Transmogrified: ‘My Humps’

In Fiction, Writing on April 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Let’s start with a definition (for readers of yesterday’s post, not usually the best way to start):

verb (transitive)
To change in appearance or form, especially strangely or grotesquely; transform

For writing students (or maybe only to students of a certain Professor Randy Nelson at Davidson College) a transmogrification is also a writing exercise where you take a piece of writing, maybe a poem or a newspaper clipping or some song lyrics, and rewrite it in a completely different and unexpected form.

Read the rest of this entry »

Starting from the beginning

In Writing on April 5, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Two weeks from today I’ll be reading the first chapter of my novel, Alberija, at an event at the Brookline Public Library (event details here). In trying to decide what to read from the book, and ultimately deciding to start from the beginning, I got thinking about some of my favorite opening lines and what makes them so good. Read the rest of this entry »

New Voices in YA and Children’s Lit

In Events on April 5, 2012 at 9:08 am

Coming up I’ll be reading a bit from my first (and only) YA novel, Alberija.

When:  April 19  @ 6:30 p.m.

Where:  The Brookline Public Library, downstairs in the teen room.

Who: Me, obviously, along with Beth Brenner, Mike Dwyer and Annie McGough

So if you’re in the Boston area (or even if you just want to be) come on by, have some snacks, and maybe even stick around for the reading if you feel up to it.

Hunger Games: Why the movie is better than the book

In O'Pinions on April 4, 2012 at 9:05 pm

It’s not something you’ll often hear readers say, and it’s not something you’ll often hear me say, but with the Hunger Games we find one of those rare cases where the film adaptation of a book is actually an improvement. Read the rest of this entry »