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It Used To Be Perilous To Write Fanfiction

kotaku.com – Thursday May 17, 2018

Fanfiction is hardly a new phenomenon, but that doesn’t always mean it was safe to write. For a time, in certain fandoms, writing fanfiction could get you a letter from a lawyer. Now, however, the internet has given fandom enough leverage to allow the dubiously legal practice of writing about other people’s characters continues to flourish.

Fanfiction, the act of writing original stories based on someone else’s creative work, exists in a sketchy legal space. While derivative and transformative works are technically protected under fair use, many authors do not believe fanfiction falls in that category. Authors that still dislike or disallow fanfiction cite an experience that author Marion Zimmer Bradley had in 1992. Bradley not only liked but encouraged fanfiction in the initial stages of her fandom, but as the story goes, she realized that an upcoming novel of hers would touch on themes that were in a fanfiction she had read, and she reached out to the author to attempt to negotiate a deal so as to avoid a lawsuit. Although not all parties can agree on how much of Bradley’s novel had been written or exactly what the terms of the agreement were with this fanfic author, Bradley said that she decided to scrap the novel rather than risk a lawsuit. This story loomed large in the memories of authors like Anne McCaffrey and George R. R. Martin, who cited it as an example of what can happen if you don’t protect your copyright. While Martin allows fanfiction as long as you don’t send it to him, McCaffrey banned all fanfiction for her series Dragonriders of Pern from 1992 until 2004.

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Journalism taught me about facts but writing a novel helped me understand truth

theguardian.com – Thursday May 17, 2018

I thought being a reporter could teach me everything there is to know about the difference between fact and fiction. I was wrong.

I always thought I had a handle on truth. Truth lives in facts, in what we know and can measure and prove. But there is truth beyond that, too – truth that lives in the stories we tell each other.

I learned this from Augustine. He was a friend of mine from Nagaland, a forgotten teardrop of unyielding land wedged between Bangladesh and Burma, high in the foothills of the Himalaya.

It is a part of India often neglected by the rest of the country: rent by a decades-old separatist insurgency that has yielded little appreciable liberty, scarred by drug dependency and high rates of HIV, suffering the dislocation and disconnection so many minorities endure in the face of an indifferent majority.

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Writing for the improbable bookshelf

thebookseller.com – Monday May 14, 2018

I make stories for improbable bookshelves. I once came across this term in an Italo Calvino essay and I’ve held on to it ever since, as it so closely describes the way I work.

I recently wrote a new version of the Persephone myth, but it can’t be found in a bookshop or online. Persephone’s Footsteps is an altitude-responsive story and map that has to be carried on a journey through a city. As Persephone climbs higher – first to escape the Underworld and then to escape the polluted city streets – the listener must climb higher to reveal more of her story. At the moment, there is only one version of this work in existence. Is it scalable? Perhaps, but my real hope is that it’s my approach to writing that’s scalable – that writers might be inspired to explore new ways of writing, bringing enlivened approaches to literary forms.

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How to write a book: 11 tips on creating a bestseller from published authors

cosmopolitan.com – Monday May 14, 2018

While it's easy to romanticise writing a novel on the side, knowing how to actually write a book and where the F to start can be a little daunting. Here, 11 published authors, who will be at Hay Festival between 24 May - 3 June, share their tips and tricks for starting your next masterpiece. And who knows? It might end up being a bestseller.

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Elena Ferrante: ‘If you feel the urge to write, there’s no good reason to put it off’

theguardian.com – Saturday May 12, 2018

If you feel the need to write, you absolutely should write. Don’t trust those who say: I’m telling you for your own good, don’t waste time on that. The art of discouraging with kind words is among the most widely practised. Nor should you believe those who say: you’re young, you lack experience, wait. We shouldn’t put off writing until we’ve lived enough, read sufficiently, have a desk of our own in a room of our own with a garden overlooking the sea, have been through intense experiences, live in a stimulating city, retreat to a mountain hut, have had children, have travelled extensively.

Publishing, yes: that can certainly be put off; in fact, one can decide not to publish at all. But writing should in no case be postponed to an “after”. When writing is our way of being in the world, it continuously asserts itself over the countless other aspects of life: love, study, a job. It insists even when there’s no paper and pen or anything, because we’re worshippers of the written word and our minds dictate sentences even in the absence of tools with which to set them down. Writing, in short, is always there, urgent, and distances even the people we love, even our children who ask us to play.

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How to banish cliches from your students’ creative writing

tes.com – Wednesday May 9, 2018

One of the most disenchanting moments when teaching creative writing must be coming across “he ran as fast as a cheetah” in a piece of writing. You know you have taught them appropriate comparisons; you know you have shown them examples from literary geniuses… so why is that blinking cheetah rearing its spotted head again?

The problem of stock similes and metaphors littering pupils’ writing is the bane of many an English teacher’s life. What can you do about it when it feels like you have already tried everything?

A technique I have used is "exploding" metaphors and similes. This forces students to consider their comparisons more carefully, and consequently makes them write with more detail. It can also lead them to consider the writer’s craft more carefully in general. And when they think like writers, it will always help their analysis.

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Use a Placeholder in Your Writing to Keep From Getting Stuck

lifehacker.com – Friday May 4, 2018

Sometimes the hardest part about writing isn’t finding ideas or knowing how to begin, it’s maintaining a flow so you actually finish what you started. It’s not quite total writer’s block since you’re already on the move, but a writer’s road block, if you will. This trick that Star Trek: The Next Generation staff writers used can help you keep on truckin’.

The writers of TNG were great at coming up with interesting plot lines for the crew of the Enterprise, but they weren’t actual scientists or experts in space travel. So, when that kind of stuff came up in the script, they often used a placeholder word for the science-y things and worried about fixing it later. Writer Ron Moore explains the process to Syfy:

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If Shakespeare were alive today, would he be writing crime novels?

telegraph.co.uk – Sunday April 29, 2018

There is no surer way to make yourself sound like a fatuous idiot than to speculate on what famous writers of the past would be doing if they were alive today – to suggest that Dickens would be scripting soap operas, Jane Austen would write chick lit, Blake would be penning hip-hop lyrics, Oscar Wilde would be a preening vlogger, and so on. And yet there is a part of me – the fatuously idiotic part, presumably – that nods along in agreement when people say that if Shakespeare were around today, he would be writing not plays but crime fiction, and we’d find him on the bestseller lists up with Ian Rankin, Lee Child and Val McDermid. The crime novelist Peter James made this point repeatedly as chairman...

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Vetting for stereotypes: meet publishing's 'sensitivity readers'

theguardian.com – Saturday April 28, 2018

When reviewers first saw Keira Drake’s The Continent, this story of a teenager trapped by a war between two “native” tribes quickly found attention on social media – though not much of it was good. This young adult novel was attacked for its “white saviour narrative” and its stereotypical portrayal of people with “reddish-brown skin” or “almond-shaped eyes”. The author Justina Ireland called it a “racist garbage fire”.

Drake apologised, said she would “address concerns about the novel”, and delayed the release. Her publisher, Harlequin Teen, sent the book out to two “sensitivity readers”, who vetted the manuscript for stereotypes, biases and problematic language. Armed with a list of potential problems and possible solutions, Drake went back to the drawing board.

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Book clinic: do editors often have to cut authors down to size?

theguardian.com – Sunday April 22, 2018

Nabokov called editors “pompous avuncular brutes”. Thanks, Vlad! Working with novelists, editors both try and help writers sharpen and structure the story they want to tell and use their experience to provide a sounding board as to how readers might react to it. I say “the story the writer wants to tell” because ultimately it is the writer’s creation.

When I read reviewers’ snarky comments about the fall in editing standards at publishers, I sometimes wonder how much – or how little – they know about the conversations that would have taken place between writer and editor. Ultimately, as an editor, you just have to stand back and say: “OK, it’s your book.”

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