Four Little Writing Things + Poll

  • My lovely author Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich is writing a monthly "Five Faves" column for, and her excellent agent Erin Murphy and I are both quoted this week on "The Book That Changed Everything."
  • Another lovely author, Francisco X. Stork, has a wonderful post connecting the disciplines of writing with those of Buddhism: "The Six Perfections of Writing."
  • If you've written a fantasy novel, or really any novel with a Big Bad, you should read through the list of The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became an Evil Overlord and make sure your villain tries to abide by them. (In other words: So much as possible, avoid the cliches contained here.) I particularly like #12: "One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation."Also #29: "I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion."
  • I tweaked my submissions guidelines this week, removing the "Closed to submissions" bit from the top (so there's no more confusion about that) and adding these lines:
-- Any submission without an SASE will not receive a reply.
-- I like books about characters who do things, who take action in their own lives, who love and lie and take risks and fight to get what they want, who are faced with and make difficult choices.
-- Some people think that literary fiction doesn't have action to it -- that literary fiction is people sitting around and feeling and talking at each other. This is not true. It's just that in literary fiction, the writer is as interested in the characters' emotional development as he or she is in the action the novel portrays, and particularly in the relationship between the two [the action and the emotional development], even if that relationship isn't spelled out in so many words.
-- If you've written a book, particularly a picture book, for the sole purpose of teaching a lesson to children, like "Be kind to everyone" or "Don't play doctor with the pit bull": Your manuscript will probably not be right for me.
And the poll: Cruising cable last weekend, I came across the last twenty minutes of The Empire Strikes Back, which I hadn't seen in ages. After I finished watching it, I saw that it was labeled "Episode V" in the cable guide, and I thought how strange it would be to actually watch it as the fifth film in the "Star Wars" saga -- to know already the big "NOOOO! NOOOO!" fact revealed at the end of the movie -- and how Episodes IV, V, and VI would all feel very different with that knowledge. And then it occurred to me that I will someday have to decide in which order my (putative, theoretical) children will see the series. What would you all do/are you doing?