Our early conversations and the revisions Roald made had to do with the shape of the story, the major characters, how the story began, how it ended, and what was missing. One significant change involved two chapters about problems the hero had at school. They were good stories, but I didn’t think they belonged in this book. Roald disagreed, strongly, and we argued about it. That was not fun. Eventually he agreed and the two chapters disappeared, but not forever.
It’s not just the reader’s way in, it’s the writer’s way in also, and you’ve got to find a doorway that fits us both.
It’s only really when [Doctor Who] returns in 2005 that a singular narrative is imposed again. The effect is rather like the way that, after a mass extinction (in this case the extinction of the TV programme), very quickly whole new ecological niches will open up and biodiversity will increase rapidly, before (as in this case) a new apex predator (the new series) comes along and causes another wave of extinctions.
Andrew Hickey on the influence of Virgin’s Doctor Who New Adventures novel series — one of the major sources of new Doctor Who stories during the period in which the program was off the air.
Torchwood itself is a parodic mirror of Doctor Who – its original function was as a decoy name for shipping film of Doctor Who, the name an anagram of ‘Doctor Who’. […] The idea that Torchwood mirrors Doctor Who is telling, as Torchwood is tacitly presented as the answer to the question ‘what happens when the Doctor doesn’t show up.’ They are defenders of Britain, and, like the Doctor, quintessentially Britain, stemming out of a long British tradition and particularly from the iconography of the Victorian era. But where the Doctor is the eccentric gentleman inventor and the old man guarding the gates to fairy, Torchwood is the militaristic ambition of glorious empire.
Philip Sandifer reviews the Doctor Who series two finale, ‘Army of Ghosts / Doomsday’.
What is most real is the process, not the written representation, but the writer’s attention to the process of writing. That is what gives a work its vitality, and what gives the reader a heightened awareness, an experience of life.
Author Jane Mendelsohn on one of the most fascinating parts (to me) of the writing process: finding a story’s style, the bridge between its conception and execution. Or as Mendelsohn puts it, ‘solving the problem’ of how to tell a particular tale.
Ex-Community and now Modern Family writer Megan Ganz, fifty minutes into her interview with Writers Bloc podcast host J.R. Havlan, shares a technique for getting through first drafts:
(On Community) we did this thing (we called) ‘spit drafting’, which was basically (that) you’re writing a script, you have the outline, you know what’s supposed to happen in the scene, but you’re having a hard time actually writing out those scenes, you’re having a hard time getting the jokes…
So instead of writing dialogue, you type it out and say… ‘I am in a fight with you right now’… ‘I have a response to you fighting’… ‘Well, I think you’re a jerk because you wanted to eat a pastrami sandwich and I didn’t.’ You’re getting the shape of the scene and you’d write it about to the length of how much that scene would take up in your script.
Sounds like a fun way of breaking through first draft paralysis. Also, Ganz admits that the Community writers used to swear in their spit drafts ‘like crazy’, which sounds fun too.
I’ve been meaning to post this for ages: Mike Lynch at Nannygoat Hill and Peter J Casey at Major to Minor share the process by which they construct palindromes for their regularly masterful Artwiculate ‘Word of the Day’ entries.
And that was the last time his daughter asked him to make Fuzzy Felt pictures with her.
Having a ploughman’s lunch.
(He’s all “But it’s six hours until dinner and I can’t plough on an empty stomach!”)
From Fast Company:
(George) Lucas and his crew left the Lars Homestead set to rot after (filming on Star Wars) wrapped more than 35 years ago. In that time, the domed shell of the homestead sat unprotected from the desert winds, its location known to only a few locals. That is, until recently, when Luke’s erstwhile home was rediscovered by New York-based photographer Rä di Martino.
Imagine how excited we’ll be in 35 years time when a hard disk archivist discovers the digital remains of Jar Jar Binks.
My daughter has brought home a school reader called Mum At Work — an admirable documentary piece which is pleasingly recognisable to us, featuring as it does a main character who works hard, solves problems, and has the rightful respect of her colleagues.
I now feel obliged to write a companion volume, Dad Writes Books At Home — less a documentary, more in the manner of an exposé, featuring as it does a main character who deletes and retypes the same sentence all day, often in his underpants, and who is mental.
Fundamentally, a bunch of aliens milling about to ‘Tainted Love’ just isn’t that strange a sight for a 2005 television audience.
Philip Sandifer’s epic
ongoing critical history of Doctor Who has reached the 2005 relaunch. This instalment covers one of my personal favourite episodes of the series, classic and new: ‘The End of the World’.
Selling a book, print or digital, turns out to be far from the only way to generate revenue from all the remarkable cultural activity that goes into the creation and dissemination of literature and ideas.
Richard Nash’s essay on
capturing the value of a book is as affirming as it is alarming in its examination of the economics of literary creation.
You can’t use the internet as a marketing vehicle and then not as a delivery vehicle.
Great quote from Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.
From The Guardian:
Centred around ‘inquiry-based learning’, the idea (behind Denmark’s LEGO® school) is that children are more motivated when they generate their own questions. As one prospective parent of the new school put it: ‘In the UK you’re taught how to pass exams. In Scandinavia you’re taught how to think.’
Me, I went to the LEGO® school of hard blocks.
From a 2002 BBC News item about researchers at the University of Plymouth testing the ‘infinite monkey’ theorem by making available a computer terminal to six monkeys – Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan – from Paignton Zoo in Devon.
After a month, the Sulawesi crested macaques had only succeeded in partially destroying the machine, using it as a lavatory, and mostly typing the letter ‘s’.
As Karl Pilkington once observed:
There hasn’t been one publication from a monkey – and they’ve been around longer than us. (Here’s Karl Pilkington’s initial take on the infinite monkey theorem from the 8 February 2003 edition of the Ricky Gervais Show on XFM.)
Writers, like all artists, are Platonists. We have an inkling of something perfect and ideal, which haunts our imaginings and prompts every stroke of the pen or keyboard. We are aware that with a great effort of attentiveness, formulating and reformulating, listening closely to our own voice, modulating it into more tuneful harmonies, we might do something not just good, but perfect. And occasionally in phrase or sentence or paragraph we do just that. But I know of no writer who is not, finally, just that little bit disappointed with the final product.
Rick Gekoski, on trying to bring
a concentrated light-heartedness to the act of composition.