categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour
As we move away from traditional publishing, what are we moving toward? Half of the top-ten bestselling print novels in Japan recently were originally cell-phone novels [LINK MOTOROLA], full-length, sent out to millions of subscribers text-by-text, fifty or a hundred words at a time, mostly dialogue. And several groups are vying to write the first novel created on Facebook—a line or two and pass it along, with no editorial influence, and certainly no commercial potential. [CONSIDER PARAGRAPH BREAK] Twitter can’t be far behind. Part of the new aesthetic seems to be speed—drop the transitions, break it all into bits, describe nothing, rest your characters on shorthand cultural assumptions, rocket through plot points, or, in the essay, points of thought, all while keeping your paragraphs rilly short, as if literature were a news story [USE SHORT, DECLARATIVE SENTENCES]. If you can have two or three hundred books loaded into a reading device (I thought a book was a reading device)(some 140,000 books were published in the US last year—so much for the death of publishing)[LIMIT PARENTHETICALS], then you can channel surf through the great works. No more waiting fifty or a hundred pages for Middlemarch to take hold—move onto the next text. Same with the writing—check out Writer’s Café on the web. It’s a program to help with matters of character and plot and so forth as you build your fiction, guaranteed to speed up the creative process. Soon, in fact, computer fiction-writing programs will be, um, viable [TONE?]. And not just interactive fictions, in which the story is generated by your actions inside a computerized world, but books custom written for you as you scan with your eyes (formerly called reading). Soon we’re going to be up against whole generations of genuinely avid readers who’ve never cracked a book, and writers who’ve never written one. Search “sex,” say, or “murderer,” thereby save all that time working your way into the story through masses of fancy writing, just get to the action: Jack [SELECT CHARACTER TYPE] whacked Carol [SELECT CHARCTER TYPE] with a pipe and killed her; detective Smith [SELECT CHARACTER TYPE] caught him; but not before making love [LINK PORN SITE] with secretary [SELECT CHARACTER TYPE] Mindy in a sensible red dress [LINK ANN TAYLOR], the end.
Click here to pay for the experience I just gave you.
Be embarrassed about art—It’s all just content. Sesquipedalianism is out. Get confused about what Strunk and White are saying, and never use an adverb again. (If you’re an editor, strike out every adverb you come across forever).
Young or new writers often describe characters thus: “Detective Smith looked just like Jack Black in School of Rock.”
Just like him! No need to say he sounded, smelled, felt, tasted like him too!
Student paper, elite college: “As it turns out, Charlotte Bronte made everything up in this book. Nothing is even true, and so how can we trust her?”
Not many smells or tastes in fiction anymore, I’ve noticed—cuz you can’t smell or taste anything that happens in a movie or on TV [TONE].
“She looked just like that girl in the Captain Morgan ad!”
[PROPOSAL LINE (insert proposal here)]: I want to propose a sort of slow-food movement for writers [PRODUCT LINK HEINZ]. Not write by hand, not eschew the laptop, but dump minimalism, linger over things like eye contact, body language, the color of a couch [LINK IKEA], memory, emotion, idea. Care about the air between people, the mood in a room. I mean, make it interesting, make it good, but make it complete. Aspire languorously to print [HYPOCRISY ALGORITHM ENGAGED]. Consider a handful of good readers sufficient [HYPOCRISY ALGORITHM ENGAGED] . Work as a gardener.
[INSERT MOTTO]: Lentior!
[INTERACTIVE INVITATION FEATURE]: How do we draw in the new technologies and the new consciousnesses and the new illiterates without withering to fit them? That’s a real question—please feel free to answer at length. [WORD LIMIT REACHED]