[The Skimm’s] purpose? To recap and explain the top news stories of the day to like-minded busy women, all in a conversational, easy-to-digest tone. —Elle
Oh, hay, like-minded busy women. We know you’re busy—high-powered jobs, cement apartments, grooming regimens—but we here at The Skimm wanted to give you something extra to celebrate over July 4th.
And we don’t just mean frozen grapes!
A writer needs a deft hand at character development and atmosphere. If you can’t get the reader to feel safe, they’re never going to be afraid, no matter how many chainsaws you throw at them.
I have heard from many writers who are frustrated with or confused by Twitter. Just the idea of it, never mind what you are actually supposed to do once you are on it. They either don’t understand the concept or they feel it’s too technical.
This is reasonable, but Twitter is really just like any other social media platform, in terms of learning it—you just need to dive in, spend some time there, figure out the strengths and weaknesses, and you will see how best to interact.
My personal feeling is that Twitter is a wonderful haven for writers. I am following and being followed by hundreds of people, and I am fairly certain that many of them are writers in some respect.
Teaching writing is a messy thing. I’ve often commented to people curious that I halfway don’t believe that it’s possible to teach writing. Sure, you can go over the mechanics of a sentence, how paragraphs cohere into chapters and then books. You can parse syntax until your students are blue in the face. But the verve, the fire behind the words—that’s all them, never you. You as a writing instructor can inspire and demonstrate.
But you cannot write for your students. They have to make that last part of the journey alone.
Today's roundup marvels at the University of Iowa haul, pins down genre, lines up the best books about books, and looks forward to Alexs Pate.
People say it’s the most literary of sports, but for many years I couldn’t bear to open a baseball book for fear of encountering a cliché. They come to mind too easily: fathers and sons, childhood innocence and/or its loss, the smell of freshly cut grass—I recognize that these things are meaningful, but when I find them in a baseball book I think: blah, blah, blah. Finding new ways to approach a given subject is at the core of good writing, whether the topic is baseball, Henry Kissinger, or the history of animal husbandry.
My disappointment with baseball literature was short-sighted and uninformed. In recent years I’ve dug more deeply into the trove of books about the sport, and through suggestions from friends and a lot of luck, I’ve found many great titles that deserve to be read. Some are already classics of the genre, while others are obscure and deserve more attention.
I met Kelly Hansen Maher when I was fat with child. I warned my newly-met cohort in the 2012-2013 Loft Mentor Series that a new little totem would be joining our group in February and promptly scheduled my reading for a few weeks after my due date, in want of a reading with our mentor Oliver de la Paz. That little baby of mine went to so many events, hearing the voice of Nikky Finney while wombside, among many others. I kept thinking, What an opportunity.
In a recent class of mine, someone asked why contemporary writers avoid dialogue. I'm not sure they do, but I understand why they might. Dialogue is hard. Mimicking true patterns of speech is tricky and, even if related accurately, might not sound right when written down. The hesitations in real speech can be awkward or boring or they can slow down the scene in unfortunate ways. Yet stylized speech, contoured for efficiency, can seem unrealistic.
So what about indirect dialogue? What can it do for a scene or a story?
Are they silently weeping at the beauty of my words? Are they quietly gagging at my metaphors? Did they think what I just said was funny? On stage, it’s anyone’s guess. The audience is typically completely silent and it’s always impossible to see them. Usually at least one person will come up after and offer kind words, so I know what I wasn’t completely horrible, but nothing can really make up for the lost, worried feeling as you step out of the limelight when there was nary an mhmm of agreement.
As writers we hear a LOT about this word: voice. So much so, it almost begins to take on magical connotations. Agents demand it. Editors reject piles and piles of manuscripts for not having it. We’re told to discover it, like it’s a hidden jewel in our soul, and if we mine deep enough, we’ll find it!