A Bouquet of Writing Links

I don’t really have anything of interest to say, too busy with translating and writing to do much else, so have a couple of writing links instead:

Theodora Goss has a great post on the importance of writing every day. Found via Lilith Saintcrow. I’ve been adhering to the “write every day” mantra for more than four years now, and while I know that it doesn’t work for everyone, it works for me.

Mark Charan Newton posts about a writing exercise using photos for inspiration. His exercise is very similar to the Instant Story Machine exercise I sometimes do with my students. Though of course Mark Charan Newton’s aims (getting people to think out of the box) and his target audience (aspiring writers) is very different from mine, which is basically getting the kids to write at all.

Janice Hardy has great post about worldbuilding, settings and research. The advice is mostly geared towards writers of speculative fiction, but it works just as well for mimetic fiction with real world settings. For example, I determined the setting for “the novel”, which has a realistic setting, very much like Janice Hardy’s first point.

The inspiration for “the novel” was a single scene that just came into my head and wouldn’t let go, so I wrote it down. I could see the location for that one scene (which is set inside an apartment) and had some very vague guesses about the larger setting. Once I realized that there was more to this story than a few scenes, I set about to find a real world place that matched those vague parameters I had.

Meanwhile, Nicola Morgan has a post about the perils of too much research. Found via Charles Tan.

Finally, the Chronicle of Higher Education has an article on bad and clunky student writing.

I actually agree that the example given is clunky and could be better phrased. I even grant him the punctuation. But otherwise the author displays stunning America-centrism. It’s not just the “Yankees” thing (really, who cares whether it’s singular or plural?) either. A lot of the Britishisms he complains about are not in any way wrong English, they’re just a different variety of English. This man’s attitude is the exact opposite of the attitude I got from some of my more inept English teachers at high school, who refused to accept my American usage and marked up Americanisms as errors. I’d have hoped that sort of idiocy would have died out by now, but apparently it lives on in some US colleges.

Though to be honest, from my admittedly outsider POV, I find the way writing and grammar instruction are done in the US highly problematic. I suspect that’s at least partly due to the fact that Elements of Style is still considered the grammar and style bible by many in the US, even though the book has obvious problems and in fact I’ve never heard a Non-American recommend it. The Chronicle of Higher Education has a wonderful article on everything that’s wrong with Strunk & White.

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