Tag Archives: On Writing

Contemplating Structure, Time and the First-Person

In another incarnation I spent some time teaching screenwriting, which, as you may know, is all about structure. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that there is no screenwriting without structure. Typically, that means three acts highlighting a tightly causal chain of events with linear narration. In films that utilize flashback structure, these flashbacks are usually ordered so that they unfold in a linear fashion. Even Memento, to provide a notable example of a film that plays with time, employs linear temporality…

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How to Turn a Book Into a Movie

I’m often asked what I look for when I evaluate books for the movie biz. First and foremost, I look for the elements that are important to my employers–things that they are specifically looking for in terms of genre, execution, etcetera. I read for a couple of different places, and each has a slightly different mandate. In general, in order for a book to become a movie it has to have a strong, forward-moving plot line, and a premise that you can easily picture on…

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Narcissistic Autobiographies

I read a book for work tonight, a travel autobiography about a woman who thinks she’s hilarious and that everything that ever happened to her in her entire life is fascinating. Guess what? It’s not. How do these people get published? I guess if you’re a woman, it helps to be really crude and vulgar. That’s what passes for feminism these days. Well, you depress me, Sarah Silverman and your ilk. Get a life. (Just don’t assume I want to know about it.) Share on…

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Best Books to Movies

Finished my last book for my reading job, and now I’m free! Until Monday morning, of course. I am in the middle of Zoe Heller’s Notes on a Scandal, which I picked up because I liked the movie so much. I mooched the book from someone in Iceland, which adds an extra frisson because I spent some time there a few years back, and love anything and everything from that country (except the rotted shark meat). Share on Facebook

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Birth of an Online Reviewer

Last night’s work read was a novel whose tone profoundly disturbed me. But that’s all I can say because I don’t blog in detail about the books I read for work. Instead, you get a post On Reading. I recently posted a few of my blog reviews up on Amazon, just to see what would happen, and in doing so remembered that I posted a review on Amazon a very loooooooong time ago–my only one until recently. I wasn’t sure if it’d still be there,…

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Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose

Synopsis: The best way to learn to write is by the close reading of great literature. Review: I wish I could get Francine Prose to tell me about every book I read. She is so astute and insightful about the craft of writing, and equally tuned into the joys that reading has to offer the lover of language. You might think that the Superfast Reader would be averse to a technique asking her to slow down and smell the sentences, but nothing could be further…

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Aspects of the Novel by EM Forster

Synopsis: A collection of lectures given by EM Forster at Trinity College in Cambridge in 1927, touching on all aspects of the novel from story and people to what Forster calls “fantasy” and “prophecy.” Review: A delicious gem of a book. Forster’s prose is gorgeous, and I want to read every book he mentions that I haven’t already. I will be ruminating on what I’ve read in here for quite some time, and this is a book I will revisit many times. Rather than try…

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The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Synopsis: When a bookish woman is contracted to write the biography of a famous author known to lie about herself, she discovers shocking truths that lead her to reconcile with her own tragic past. Review: Steeped in the Brontes, DuMaurier, Wilkie Collins, and The Turn of the Screw, this book is at once a throwback to the 19th century and a thoroughly modern reinvention of the gothic story. Setterfield lovingly lifts generic tropes from these classic tales while weaving a story that is utterly hypnotizing…

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