On writing with style, some advice from Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, 14 February, 2017

An article penned by late US author Kurt Vonnegut, in 1999, offering his tips to writers. A must read, but here are the main points:

  • Find a subject you care about
  • Do not ramble, though
  • Keep it simple
  • Have guts to cut
  • Sound like yourself
  • Say what you mean
  • Pity the readers

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2001: A Space Odyssey, an illustrated children’s book

Monday, 16 January, 2017

Illustration by Sergiy Maidukov

A series of drawings by Ukrainian illustrator Sergiy Maidukov, for a children’s book based on the Stanley Kubrick film, and Arthur C. Clarke novel, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Via 2001Italia.

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Abridged classics, uh-oh, spoilers ahead

Friday, 9 September, 2016

Illustration by John Atkinson

Ottawa based cartoonist John Atkinson’s illustration series succinctly breaks down the plots of classic novels, into a short sentence. How handy.

How about Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen? I’ve had difficulty picking it up again since Sir Thomas returned from Antigua, and spoiled everyone’s fun.

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A world dominated by books, illustrations by Jungho Lee

Thursday, 25 August, 2016

Illustration by Jungho Lee

Don’t write off books yet. The paper ones, that is. In the world of Jungho Lee, a Seoul based artist and illustrator, they are omnipresent. The books here have re-purposed themselves, and it will be a long time before they become obsolete…

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The cook, the writer, and the food photographer, Flora Shedden

Monday, 22 August, 2016

Photo by Flora Shedden

Nineteen year old Scottish art history student Flora Shedden has led an eventful life. According to the about page on her website, she has already worked as a gallery assistant, a researcher, a photographer, a costume seamstress, and also a waitress. Though not all at the same time. Presumably. Unless this was an instance of extreme slash careerism.

Photo by Flora Shedden

Now writing can be added to that list, even though Sheddon’s not entirely on unfamiliar ground here, she was once the editor of her primary school’s newspaper. As if that’s not enough, it’s also obvious she is a dab hand at photography as well. Something that becomes apparent after looking through her website and Instagram page.

Photo by Flora Shedden

It was the food photography that caught my eye though. Here her work varies a little from others in the same field, in that she often prepares the food in question herself. I only say that, because in the course of writing this post, I discovered she is also writing a cookbook. Taking photos as she goes. It won’t be long then, until she can add author to that list of occupations.

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And now for some recent book cover designs

Friday, 19 August, 2016

I don’t read books, I only look at the design of their covers. That’s not quite correct, but sometimes it can be hard to go passed a good book cover. Anyway, here’s a selection of book covers from titles that have been published in the last month or so.

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For all the written works in the world there are two types of writers

Thursday, 7 July, 2016

There are two types of writers, bashers and swoopers, says Ollie Campbell.

Bashers write one sentence at a time, and do not move onto the next one until they are finished. After that they never come back to it. As far as they’re concerned, it is ready to go.

Swoopers, on the other hand, might write different parts of the story during a single sitting. They might start by working on an idea in the middle, then go to something near the beginning, then jump to another towards the end of the story. That sounds familiar.

For Swoopers, writing is about gradually getting a jumble of ideas into shape. And these kinds of writers are used to working around the limitations of their tools. A writer I spoke to recently said “I normally have six different Word documents open at once with different parts of what I’m writing. Then it’s just condense, condense, condense.”

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Why would a writer want to be rejected 100 times each year?

Tuesday, 5 July, 2016

New York City based author Kim Liao suggests that aspiring writers should strive to have their work rejected one hundred time each year. That may be one hundred too many rejections for some of us, but to collect that many knock-backs hopefully means one or two ideas end up being accepted.

Last year, I got rejected 43 times by literary magazines, residencies, and fellowships – my best record since I started shooting for getting 100 rejections per year. It’s harder than it sounds, but also more gratifying.

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Book covers that have been judged, the best of 2015

Friday, 1 July, 2016

You should never judge a book by its cover, that we all know, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy, or otherwise, the actual cover of a book. Here are the fifty best book covers for 2015, as selected by the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and Design Observer.

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Not for publication, the book title of your choosing

Friday, 27 May, 2016

Are you writing a novel, and have an idea for the title? It may not make it to publication however, if it’s not deemed marketable enough. A shame, as I think an author would be the best person to title their book, in that they probably have the best understanding of the subject matter.

When I was readying my first novel for publication, it struck me that writers have far more control over what’s in their books than what’s on them – the cover art, blurbs, jacket copy, but especially the title, where the author’s concerns overlap with marketing ones. Deciding on a name for your life’s work is hard enough; the prospect of changing it at the eleventh hour is like naming your newborn, then hearing the obstetrician say, But wouldn’t Sandra look amazing on the certificate?

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