Archive for July, 2016

“The Mixologist” profile of Mike Will

July 13, 2016

Check out this New Yorker  profile of a hot music producer. Notice how much detail is in the writing and how deep into the story John Seabrook goes back to the writer’s origins and brinks the chronology forward.

John Seabrook has been a contributor to The New Yorker since 1989 and became a staff writer in 1993. Seabrook explores the intersection between creativity and commerce in the fields of technology, design, and music. Seabrook is the author of “Nobrow: The Culture of Marketing—The Marketing of Culture,” which was published in 2000; “Deeper: My Two-Year Odyssey in Cyberspace,” which was published in 1997; and “Flash of Genius, and Other True Stories of Invention,” which was published in 2008. His most recent book, “The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory,” was published by Norton in October, 2015. Before joining the magazine, Seabrook was a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a senior writer at Manhattan Inc. magazine.


The Mixologist


Something more about Svetlana Alexievich

July 6, 2016

Worth reading.

Some final thoughts

July 5, 2016

To make a work of art you have to do everything that is necessary. We’re at the first draft phase, but we haven’t got to the revision phase, the part where you let the draft cool off, absorb the comments of your editor (me) and wrestle the thing down. I’d like to add that last phase. it’s hard to grade you when you haven’t done everything. We’ll figure out something tonight.

Here’s what I propose. Hand in the draft and I will give you some feedback about revisions. I’ll grade you on what you hand in, and if you make significant improvements in the draft, I will raise your grade. Or we might consider an I followed by a grade by the middle of August.

We haven’t had time to go over language. I’ve reposted a couple of old blog posts about language below that still hold true.  How important are  grammar and word choice and all the other details of writing? Well, how important is it  for a musician to play the right notes and keep the tempo in a song, or  have the camera focused in a film or have the subject well lit? These details are incredibly important. They are the art. Words are what we make art with.

The blog posts I’ve added below point out some of the common problems I see with student writing. There are many more, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Start with the basic one about having people act in sentences. Musicians develop their ears by listening to music. Writers develop their ears for language by reading. Reading reading reading, and of course by noticing what’s going on in sentences.

I have to say you have great material here for stories. Nobody has a lame story idea. The problem, as for all art, is execution. Working on it. Not being satisfied with the first thing you get down. Making it better. I’ll tell you a story tonight about a writing problem I had over the weekend and how I came up with a metaphor for it:  looking through the wrong end of a telescope.




Writing with people not abstractions

July 5, 2016

Art of Narrative JOUR 505, Texas Southern University

As you write, see if you can write about people and not ideas. Write about what people say, do, think, feel. 

Don’t let abstractions run the prose, as in (I’m making this up) “Laziness filled up the patio.”

Instead, “Larry was wearing flip flops, cargo pants and a dirty t-shirt. He popped opened a Sam Adams and shuffled to a shady corner, sat down, leaned back in his chair and took a long languid pull on his beer.”

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The war against concept nouns and other problems in writing

July 5, 2016

Art of Narrative JOUR 505, Texas Southern University

The cardinal rule of writing: write with people not abstractions. Write about people doing something, saying something, feeling something.

 Check out the subject of the sentence, and if it is not a person or some human agency (the Chicago Cubs, the federal government etc.) , see if you can write it with a person. Stories are about people doing things. Make your sentences about people.

 The selection came down to the University of Texas , Louisiana State University, Baylor University, Texas Christian University, Texas A&M and Arkansas.

 No person or agency is the subject above. An abstraction or a concept noun is the subject: the selection. Have either a person or a human agency as a subject of the sentence:

 He had to choose from University of Texas , Louisiana State University, Baylor University, Texas Christian University, Texas A&M and Arkansas.


 Five schools recruited him: University of Texas…

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