7 Things Dungeons & Dragons Taught Me About Storytelling

If you write, you may be tempted to make your main characters good, strong, and pretty—not perfect, but rather unflawed. But that’s boring. If you don’t understand why, then maybe you should play Dungeons and Dragons. Writer Rob Blair Young used to cheat by lying about his dice rolls to make his characters near-perfect in D&D. But after playing with an accidental “flawed” character, he realised the best journeys aren’t about perfect characters smashing through problems, but about ordinary people who become extraordinary after rising to the challenge. Read full article here

Sometimes It’s Good To Bring Our Worst Selves To Work..

What can tell tell you more about an author, the Internet or their own writing? Aspiring novelist Colleen Hubbard realised that her story was more important to her audience than her perfectly formed sentences. Although her work history as a copywriter for stripper and sex shop advertisements seemed embarrassing in her resume, she learned important lessons during that time that allowed her to bare her soul in her work, showing her readers her ‘true self’. Read full article here

Exceedingly Loud And Incredibly Quiet

“We have to ask ourselves in what sense there is Chinese Literature rather than a literature of a multitude of voices variously engaged with China.” For Xiaolu Guo, the future of contemporary Chinese literature will be multilingual and far-reaching, extending beyond the confines of mainland China. Staying within the mainland offers only state-approved work; you can’t read Liao Yiwu’s painful accounts of Chinese society, the hidden memories of Chinese migrant workers in Cuba and Ghana, or the narratives of international writers with double cultural and linguistic identities. Read full article here

A Handbook For Creating A Literary Life In Prison

It’s no secret that prisons monitor inmate communications, but Caits Meissner argues the public doesn’t know how extensive it can get. She recalls the anxiety she felt when PEN America’s handbook was released, fearful of the repercussions writers would face for penning about prison life. One writer who had won a PEN America contest had been removed from his job on the prison mental health board after he exposed the trouble brewing within. Read full article here

Do Blurbs Actually Work?

“Maybe [blurbs] aren’t an objective measure of quality, but they’re actually a pretty good measure of a book’s milieu.” Blurbs are one of the tools that publishers use both to winnow the ever-growing tidal wave of books aiming to be published and to “position” a new book. Blurbs help publishers figure out what a book’s audience is without reading it and if it’s worth publishing, because other prominent authors that have written the blurbs already did that work for them. Read full article here

The Cult Of Goethe

George Elliot, among other British women writers, embraced German culture because her own culture was unwelcoming for female writers. George Elliot (then Mary Ann Evans) grew as a writer after she eloped with George Henry Lewes to Weimar. Having had no training in Greco-Roman traditions prevalent in Britain, Elliot found her literary foundation in the German literary canon. She was not shunned for being a woman in a non-standard relationship in polite German society, and she was free to hone her talents and branch out of translating German literature. Read full article here

Beware What Sounds Insightful

One trick that writers employ to sound more insightful (and therefore, more interesting) is using stories. This works especially well when the story is historical; the less familiar it is to the reader, the better. The writer is showcasing an idea the reader likely doesn’t know and something that has a historical basis, making it sound more legitimate. Readers will also stick to pieces that use stories because they’re easier to digest than argumentative prose and are therefore more interesting because they can understand them. Read full article here

1922: The Year That Made Modernism

James Joyce’s Ulysses, published in 1922, revolutionised literature. To uncover the plot of Ulysses, John Mullan notes that he had to piece it together from the various fragments sprinkled within the novel’s pages. Joyce’s writing style — sometimes described as a “stream of consciousness” — illustrates the world and his novel’s plot through seemingly unrelated thoughts whose connections unfold throughout the novel. Read full article here

Literature Direct Publishing

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing has allowed more and more people to publish their own works directly across different genres, including genres as extreme as “Adult Baby Diaper Lover erotic.” But Benjamin Kunkel finds that very few of the multitude of books published by Amazon are worthy of being called literature. Amazon, to him, is focused more on the profit that comes with publishing works willy-nilly — with a 30% cut, how could they not? — instead of producing serious literature. Read full article here

Invest In Tools And Talent, And Newsrooms Can Finish The Job

News executives and owners justify their reluctance to invest in research and development and professional training because they aren’t large, lucrative companies. However, if they truly believed in securing a long-term future for their companies and their industries, Rasmus Kleis Nielsen finds this excuse flimsy. He cites Malaysiakini, an online Malaysian newspaper, and The Daily Maverick in South Africa as examples of small companies operating in challenging markets that still invest significantly in their future; if they can do it, then the entire industry can. Read full article here


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