On most Fridays, Evan Peterson rounds up five stories from across the Web that scribes of all stripes should check out.
How fit is your writing?
A website will help you determine the answer to that question by putting your prose on a scale. Whether you can trust that scale is another question.
Meanwhile, the late David Foster Wallace explains his dislike of “utilize”; a novelist discusses why you should try writing 50,000 words in a month; publishers help out victims of Hurricane Sandy, and more:
The Writer's Diet:
Does your writing need to be trimmed down? There's a way to tell. The Writer's Diet is a website in which you enter text to determine whether it has enough nouns, too many adjectives, and so on. The site then gives you ratings from “lean” to “heart attack territory.” Pretty neat, right? It’s not to Mark Liberman. On the Language Log
, he tests the site using E.B. White's work and finds over and over again that it is “flabby,” prompting him to write of Writer's Diet creator Helen Sword, “It's amazing that apparently intelligent people (the editors of The New York Times
, whoever books TED talks, etc.) take this malarkey seriously.” See for yourself here.
David Foster Wallace's dictionary: The London Telegraph
gathered nine fun and terrible words the late author marked to either avoid or never use again. My favorite is “utilize.” Here’s how Wallace describes it: “A noxious puff-word. Since it does nothing that good old use doesn’t do.”
November was National Novel Writing Month, a challenge to anyone who wants to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. Lots of people are taking the challenge, including Dana Sachs, who's done it six times. She's about to have her first novel from the competition, written in 2007, published. On the Soapbox
blog from Publisher's Weekly
, Sachs explains how the challenge is a good way for writers to drop their perfectionism and just write a first draft.
Publishing gives back:
If you're paid to write and edit, here's an idea for your next charity drive: A group in New York and New Jersey is offering services from professional editors and publishers to the highest bidder, with proceeds benefitting Hurricane Sandy victims. Services include a book critique from a professional editor, or a phone consultation on a book pitch. So far it's raised about $7,500.
How to write “Batman”:
Christopher Nolan, the writer and director behind the latest Batman trilogy (the third installment, “The Dark Knight Rises,” is now available on DVD and streaming video), offers a glimpse into the creation of these films. In an interview with The Playlist
blog, Nolan discusses the collaborative process he employed while working with two other writers to create the films. There might be some good lessons here for writers who insist on going solo.
Evan Peterson is a writer based in Chicago, and the editor of OpenMarkets magazine at CME Group. He's on Twitter at @evanmpeterson.