Three articles on writing and publishing

By Katharine Swan On Thursday, April 16, 2009 At 6:41 PM

Today there are three articles on NPR that I want to share with you. All three have to do with writing or publishing.

First of all, Strunk and White's Elements of Style turns 50 today. This little book is a well respected guide to grammar and writing. As I told Kathy Kerhli, I can't say I've ever read it, but it's sitting on my shelf. Maybe someday I will see what all the fuss is about.

Second is a review of three books on writing and publishing a novel. I've read Stephen King's On Writing, which I loved even though I don't really like his novels. The other two books are Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, and Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell.

Third is an interesting story about the current trend in the publishing industry of paying bigger bucks for fewer books. Publishing houses are apparently paying 7-figure advances to a few lucky authors — but it seems like you have to be famous in order to get it. (Even the supposedly "unheard-of" authors discussed in the article are paid the big advances after their first novels make a splash, so yeah, the famous thing still applies.) At the same time, they are publishing fewer books — not good odds for those of us who aspire to novelist status.

I also wanted to share with you a "bonus article" on a book that doesn't focus on writing, but is definitely related: No Right to Remain Silent, by Lucinda Roy. You may remember that Roy was the professor that tried to get help for Seung-Hui Cho, the troubled shooter at Virginia Tech that killed 32 people two years ago today. Roy's book talks about potential motives, but also about the writing connection. I think Roy's voice bodes well for the quality of her book: calm, soft-spoken, but self-assured. Clearly she wrote this book because she felt certain things needed to be said. Be sure to listen to both the radio spot and the excerpt.

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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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