How Much Editing Is Enough?

You’ve had a request for your complete manuscript from an agent or editor. Suddenly your mouth goes dry. Your knees are shaky. Is your manuscript REALLY ready for prime time? OR Let’s say you’re a DIY person, and you publish yourself through Amazon or Smashwords, or some other self publishing organ. Will your readers toss your book…

Facts Don’t Make A Fiction

It’s abnormal and absolutely strange for me not to be reading a book a week – or nearly so. The knee – my new metal one – is the duly appointed culprit in this “good habit breakdown.” If you’ve never had a modern knee replacement and gone through the discomfort of physical therapy, you don’t…

Using Italics For Character Thoughts – – A Good Idea?

  This may seem ho-hum during a week of new year’s resolutions, bowl games, and the first nasty winter weather, but Nancy, a writer friend brought me a writer’s dilemma yesterday. We writers are beginning to see passages in books and stories in which a character’s inner thoughts are italicized. How, Nancy asked, do we…

Channeling The Past

I’ve just finished writing a scene for my medieval historical novel – a scene I’d been dreading…I found I had to resort to what’s worked in the past. Rather than try to devise the debate scene’s dialogue analytically, based on hours of probably unrewarding research, I allowed my mind to go blank and, well, I just wrote.

Cliches and Biases in Nonfiction and Fiction

I've just finished reading the August 2011 issue of Harper's Magazine, and as usual, I pay special attention to the fiction. In this issue, too, there's a memoir, and in these two pieces I see a difference in style based, I suspect, on reader expectation. image via worldmags.net The memoir, "Summer People," by Justin Kaplan,…

A Deeper Look at Love and Forebodings

Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert – Part 2   A new translation by Lydia Davis   First the translation: Lydia Davis spent a lot of time on the project; she gives us copious notes on the significance of what Flaubert has written in the way of French culture during the post-Napoleonic era, of technology, particularly…