Pride and Prejudice - The STORY GRID edition - Annotated by SHAWN COYNE




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ARCHIVES OF June, 2011

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

To Propose or Not to Propose

By Steven Pressfield | Published: June 29, 2011

Posted from the road, Jacksonville NC:

Joe E

Joe Eszterhas: he knew how to "speck it"

I’m reading Shawn’s Friday posts about book proposals in our “What It Takes” series. I love ‘em. They’re educational for me too. Until I read Shawn’s first post, I didn’t know what a book proposal was. Until he showed me one a couple of months ago, I had never seen one. Reading this, you may think, “How can that be? How can Pressfield have a 15-year book career and not know what a book proposal looks like?” The answer is simple:

You don’t need a book proposal for fiction.

That’s good news and bad news if you’re a fiction writer. The bad news is you have to write the whole freakin’ book. The good news is you have to write the whole freakin’ book.

There are two reasons why publishers won’t advance money to a fiction writer based exclusively on a proposal. First, fiction is dependent on so many intangibles and imponderables—character, theme, narrative, concept, mood, emotion, suspense, terror, not to mention climactic payoff—that no one can tell if a novel works till he actually reads the damn thing. The second reason publishers are loath to advance money to novel writers is (are you ahead of me?) Resistance. (more…)

Posted in Writing Wednesdays

War Stories

War Stories

Death in the Afternoon

By Steven Pressfield | Published: June 27, 2011

The following doesn’t really fit under the heading of War Stories, but it’s so great I’m compelled to make it today’s post anyway. I’m copying this piece now from a yellowing, typewriter-pecked page I’ve kept with me for years. If technically it isn’t about war, it’s certainly from a man who wrote masterfully about that subject and who struggled, suffered and bled to fight the internal “war of art.”

From Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon:


Hemingway: Old School

When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. If a writer can make people live there may be no great characters in his book, but it is possible that his book will remain as a whole; as an entity; as a novel. If the people the writer is making talk of old masters; of music; of modern painting; of letters; or of science then they should talk of those subjects in the novel. If they do not talk of those subjects and the writer makes them talk of them he is a faker, and if he talks about them himself to show how much he knows then he is showing off. No matter good a phrase or a simile he may have if he puts it in where it is not absolutely necessary and irreplaceable he is spoiling his work for egotism. Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over. For a writer to put his own intellectual musings, which he might sell for a low price as essays, into the mouths of artificially constructed characters which are more remunerative when issued as people in a novel is good economics, perhaps, but does not make literature. People in a novel, not skillfully constructed characters, must be projected from the writer’s assimilated experience, from his knowledge, from his head, from his heart and from all there is of him. If he ever has luck as well as seriousness and gets them out entire they will have more than one dimension and they will last a long time. (more…)

Posted in War Stories

What It Takes

What It Takes

Where to Start

By Shawn Coyne | Published: June 24, 2011

So, you have an incredible idea.  You are a devotee of a particular slice of history, be it in music, politics, the Civil War, psychology, business, sports, or any other wedge of potentially popular nonfiction. You want to write a book about it, but you have no idea of how to write the proposal that will:

  • catch the eye of an agent and secure representation,
  • excite a big shot editor at a traditional publisher and gain you a reasonable advance to write it,
  • rally the marketing and publicity departments of that publisher to support the project, and
  • successfully translate into a book that attracts a compelling enough readership to actually earn you a living.
  • (more…)

Posted in What It Takes
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