EmmettRussell

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Stephen King on Writing, Fear, and the Atrocity of Adverbs

<i>“Employ a simple and straightforward style,”</i> <b>Mark Twain</b> instructed in the 18th of his 18 famous literary admonitions. And what greater enemy of simplicity and straightforwardness than the adverb? Or so argues <b>Stephen King</b> in <b>On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft</b> (<i>public library</i>), one of 9 essential books …

Sound, fury, cliché! Lazy pundits “double down” on “game-changing” “narratives”

Jon Stewart was right: From Fox News to NPR, pundits hurt the political debate by speaking in the same lazy clichés<p>It was February of this year. The radio was tuned to NPR, the subject was austerity, and the great observers of our political moment were speaking with their customary authority. The …

The Only Surviving Recording of Raymond Chandler’s Voice, in a BBC Conversation with Ian Fleming

<b>Raymond Chandler</b> (July 23, 1888–March 26, 1959) endures as one of the most celebrated novelists and screenwriters in literary history, an oracle of insight on the written word, a lovable grump dispensing delightfully curmudgeonly advice on editorial manners, and a hopeless cat-lover. In July of …

Achieving Emphasis in Writing

When speaking, we emphasize key points by altering our delivery: pausing, adjusting the volume, using body language, and slowing down or speeding up. …

Samuel Johnson on Writing and Creative Doggedness

English poet, essayist,literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer <b>Samuel Johnson</b> (September 18, 1709–December 13, 1784) endures as one of the most influential figures in literary history. His <i>Dictionary of the English Language</i>, originally published in 1755, is celebrated as one of the …

Eudora Welty on the Poetics of Place and Writing as an Explorer’s Map of the Unknown

<i>“Longest way around is the shortest way home,”</i> James Joyce wrote in one of the most memorable lines in literature — so memorable and impactful perhaps because it harnesses so exquisitely the ineffable yet enthralling role of place in writing. That’s precisely what <b>Eudora Welty</b> (April 13, 1909–July …

Two Quick Secrets To Improve Your Writing

This is the fourth post in a series about writing a book. Having just finished a new book on body language, brain science, and how people communicate, due out in May 2014 from Harvard, I’m posting a brief series on writing – what I’ve learned. Is it true that everyone who’s sentient has a book …

The Best Books on Writing, NYC, Animals, and More: A Collaboration with the New York Public Library

As an enormous lover and patron of public libraries, I was beyond delighted when the fine folks at the New York Public Library asked me to curate a selection of books for their bookstore and gave me free range to do whatever I wished. My original thought was to do a single reading list around a …

Annie Dillard on Writing

What does it really mean to write? Why do writers labor at it, and why are readers so mesmerized by it?<p>From <b>Annie Dillard’</b>s timelessly wonderful <b>The Writing Life</b> (<i>public library</i>) — which also gave us her vital reminder that presence rather than productivity is the key to living richly and her …

Ten words to cut from your writing

As Mark Twain famously wrote, "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead." His point? Strong writing is lean writing.<p>When you want to make your writing more powerful, cut out words you don't need--such as the 10 included in this post:<p><b>1. Just:</b> The word "just" is a …