This week! Books! Also writing!
Austin Kleon has a pretty awesome blog, and I especially loved this recent post about the importance of starting an artistic work before you really think you’re ready. It’s easy to get paralyzed by the planning when in actuality it may be time to just get going.
The Mister Rogers movie starring Tom Hanks is coming soon, which is based on the real life friendship that developed between Mister Rogers and the journalist Tom Junod in the course of Junod writing a truly legendary Esquire profile that remains one of my favorite pieces of all time. Junod revisits his friendship with Mister Rogers in advance of the movie and tries to envision what Mister Rogers would think of the world now.
In an age of FOMO and Instagrammed travel, the joy of repeat experiences has become wildly underrated, argues my friend Leah Fessler. As someone who relishes his Saturday morning trips to the farmers’ market, this one really resonated with me.
Would The Count of Monte Cristo still be The Count of Monte Cristo if it weren’t terribly written? Writing in The Paris Review, Umberto Eco talks about the merits of imperfect art, including Casablanca.
It’s easy to forget now, but Donald Trump’s book The Art of the Deal was a really ‘uge deal when it first came out. Peter Osnos talks about what it was like to edit it, and the article is a pretty good time capsule of the 1980s publishing world (which, honestly, does not seem all that much different than the 2019 publishing world apart from the names of the big accounts).
I was really fascinated by this New Yorker article about a now out-of-print book that chronicled the way people’s dreams changed as Germany transitioned to an authoritarian government. The way the exterior world shapes the subconscious is some really wild stuff.
Also in The New Yorker, a mathematician delves into the state of mind that is conducive to new ideas. It should come as no surprise to all you writers out there that the best way to unlock your brain is to focus on the problem you’re trying to solve, then literally walk away from it until you brain gets unstuck. (This is nearly identical to my advice for dealing with writers block).
This week in bestsellers
Here are the top five NY Times bestsellers in a few key categories. (All links are affiliate links):
Adult print and e-book fiction:
- Blue Moon by Lee Child
- The Guardians by John Grisham
- The Night Fire by Michael Connelly
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- The Beautiful Ones by Prince, edited by Dan Piepenbring
- Me by Elton John
- Blowout by Rachel Maddow
- Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
- The Plot Against the President by Lee Smith
Young adult hardcover:
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
- Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott with Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis
- Hocus Pocus and the All-New Sequel by A.W. Jantha
- Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell
Middle grade hardcover:
- Warriors: The Broken Code: The Silent Thaw by Erin Hunter
- Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinney
- A Tale of Magic… by Chris Colfer
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds
This week on the blog
Don’t forget that you can nominate your first page and query for a free critique on the blog:
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
- Literary agent Tess Callero on the importance of knowing the market
- How to know what to cut from a novel
- Example of a good nonfiction query letter
- Infuse your opening with personality (Page critique)
“Isn’t it more dramatic (and economical) for them to flirt and kiss during the action scene?”
My answer is a resounding No. When my characters are in desperate danger they will not stop to flirt and make out. I did once read a novel in which they were escaping from the serial killer and yes, they stopped and had sex. My reaction before I closed the book was OMFG.
Nor do I think it is more ‘economical’ (when did that become a virtue in writing I wonder) to cut a character because I could combine two and instead of having one who is religious and one who tells jokes, have a single person who tells himself jokes. But no jokes, because we are not allowed banter, apparently. *rolls eyes*
(FWIW, while I probably could have used better illustrative examples, it wasn’t my intent to suggest cutting two characters to one in a scene or to eliminate jokes entirely. At the end of the day everyone’s gotta decide what to cut based on what’s best for the world of their novel).
And finally, a beluga whale playing fetch!!
Have a great weekend!
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For my best advice, check out my guide to writing a novel (now available in audio) and my guide to publishing a book.
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