Debut fiction by women shook up the Indian literary scene in 2019
livemint.com – Monday December 30, 2019
- First-time women writers dominated the literary fiction landscape in India this year
- They won prizes, appeared on shortlists, and published thematically daring books challenging patriarchal assumptions and political realities
It may seem superfluous to fuss about literary fiction and its fate in the fractious political climate Indians are living in, but the genre has, since its inception, held a mirror to social change, capturing truths that slip through the cracks of hardwired non-fiction. This year, in particular, has witnessed the triumph of women debut novelists. A series of powerful books by them have disrupted the familiar landscape of English-language publishing in India, usually filled with established names and stars. Thematically daring, crafted with precision and forging distinctive linguistic registers, these books help us experience our political and social realities more keenly. They also capture the collective desires and despairs that complicate our engagement with the India we are living in at the moment.
How Many Characters?
By G. Miki Hayden
Instructor at Writer's Digest University online and private writing coach
firstwriter.com – Monday December 30, 2019
I never really thought about how many characters might be best in a novel because my characters have always had real and necessary roles, and that’s what I’ve stuck by. But recently I had a student whose novel is off to the races with 10 different third-person point of view characters and about an equal number of secondary characters. The student was struggling with whether that was optimal or whether she needed to ditch the whole project. Hey, wait, never toss a project until you’ve pondered the various implications.
The 2010s were supposed to bring the ebook revolution. It never quite came.
vox.com – Monday December 23, 2019
At the beginning of the 2010s, the world seemed to be poised for an ebook revolution.
The Amazon Kindle, which was introduced in 2007, effectively mainstreamed ebooks. By 2010, it was clear that ebooks weren’t just a passing fad, but were here to stay. They appeared poised to disrupt the publishing industry on a fundamental level. Analysts confidently predicted that millennials would embrace ebooks with open arms and abandon print books, that ebook sales would keep rising to take up more and more market share, that the price of ebooks would continue to fall, and that publishing would be forever changed.
Instead, at the other end of the decade, ebook sales seem to have stabilized at around 20 percent of total book sales, with print sales making up the remaining 80 percent. “Five or 10 years ago,” says Andrew Albanese, a senior writer at trade magazine Publishers Weekly and the author of The Battle of $9.99, “you would have thought those numbers would have been reversed.”
And in part, Albanese tells Vox in a phone interview, that’s because the digital natives of Gen Z and the millennial generation have very little interest in buying ebooks. “They’re glued to their phones, they love social media, but when it comes to reading a book, they want John Green in print,” he says. The people who are actually buying ebooks? Mostly boomers. “Older readers are glued to their e-readers,” says Albanese. “They don’t have to go to the bookstore. They can make the font bigger. It’s convenient.”
Ebooks aren’t only selling less than everyone predicted they would at the beginning of the decade. They also cost more than everyone predicted they would — and consistently, they cost more than their print equivalents. On Amazon as I’m writing this, a copy of Sally Rooney’s Normal People costs $12.99 as an ebook, but only $11.48 as a hardcover. And increasingly, such disparities aren’t an exception. They’re the rule.
So what happened? How did the apparently inevitable ebook revolution fail to come to pass?
3 books to help you become a better writer in 2020
redlandsdailyfacts.com – Sunday December 15, 2019
The New Year will soon be upon us and as this is seen as a time of rebirth and rejuvenation, many people use the New Year to embark on a journey of self-improvement and self-reflection. Many people take this time to pick up a new hobby, create and maintain better habits, and maybe improve one’s lot in life.
One skill that I personally try to improve upon is writing. Writing is a necessary skill and a refresher course on writing is apt to keep those skills sharp. It’s also helpful so that in the middle of an important writing session, you don’t have to stop and look up whether it’s light bulb or light-bulb (lightbulb), or where to put the apostrophe in the plural of Adams ( … this one maybe look up).
Reading is one of the best ways to improve your writing, and reading a book about improving writing should improve things even more so. Like three fold. (This is about improving writing, not math skills. That’s for next time.)
In writing, you can break the rules — but only if it works
startribune.com – Saturday December 14, 2019
'Tis the season … so here's some unashamed regifting: a year-end roundup, featuring an all-star team whose members have appeared in these columns.
First, my Uncle Ollie, who sent me his copy of the New Yorker every week after he read it. If you let the quality of that magazine's writing and editing wash over you and if you follow its example, your writing will grow stronger.
Second, my mother, who taught me to read when I was 4, sounding out letters and words on a ketchup label. You can give your kids and grandkids the same gift.
Third, my sixth-grade English teacher, Miss Moore, who taught us to diagram a sentence, giving us a keen sense of the structure of language. Back to her later.
Fourth, my college English professor, John Finch, who taught us to create an outline before starting to write. The benefit: All your thinking goes into the outline; when you start to write, just follow the outline.
Fifth, the playwright August Wilson, who gave us this advice: "The simpler you say it, the more eloquent it is."
The naked truth: how to write a memoir
theguardian.com – Saturday December 14, 2019
Some memoirists send drafts of their work to loved ones, or even not-so-loved ones, and where there’s a response alter their writing as a result. Others see no need for consultation. Either way, when writing about your own life, it’s important to get the monkeys off your shoulder – to be uninhibited by the possible fallout of your words. You can worry about other people later, when you’re editing. In mid-flow, you need the illusion of privacy, not to be anticipating people’s reactions (which are in any case unpredictable). Most self-censorship is cowardly. In Elizabeth’s Strout’s My Name Is Lucy Barton, the writing tutor Sarah says: “If you find yourself protecting anyone as you write … remember this: you’re not doing it right.”
Everyone has a book in them, it’s said, but as Martin Amis noted in his memoir Experience (2000), what everyone seems to have in them “is not a novel but a memoir … We are all writing it or at any rate talking it: the memoir, the apologia, the CV, the cri de coeur.” Democracy itself may be under threat but the democratisation of the memoir keeps advancing. What was once a geriatric, self-satisfied genre – politicians, generals and film stars looking back fondly on long careers – is now open to anyone with a story to tell. And the genre has reinvented itself to take diverse forms: lyric essay, creative non-fiction, confessional prose-poem and so on. You don’t have to be famous to write a memoir. And it doesn’t have to be cradle-to-grave: a slice of life, or collage of fragments, can be enough.
Born of Friendship, the Book Group Is Making Its Mark as an Agency
publishersweekly.com – Saturday December 14, 2019
Walking into the offices of the Book Group, housed in a small (by Manhattan standards) building on West 20th Street, one is greeted by the standard design trappings of literary agencies. Posters of book jackets line the walls and dozens upon dozens of books sit on shelves hanging above desks in cubicles and offices.
In the conference room, where the books of clients sit spine out on shelves that stretch from hip level to the ceiling, the vibe is unusually positive. Those who work in publishing can tend toward glass-half-empty. The eight women who work at Book Group (four principals, one senior agent, one agent, and two assistants) seem different. It feels a bit like stepping onto the set of a TV show about book publishing—one cast by the creators of Friends, featuring characters written by Aaron Sorkin.
Vicarious travels: On the travel writing genre
mancunion.com – Saturday December 7, 2019
Upon arriving at Waterstones there is one section we tend to flock to: fiction. We crave the idea of losing ourselves in others’ stories, travelling into our imagination. Whilst I’m an aficionado for the fictional, in recent months I’ve come across a new genre that allows us to explore the amazing and varied world we live in and follow the stories of real people’s adventures and experiences, of people’s subjective and varying experiences when travelling across the globe.
I’m now a strong advocate for the modern travel genre, and have a few recommendations for reading over the winter break.
Travel writing encompasses so many styles and sub-genres – the common characteristic is simply to give a new perspective on life, through stories of new places and cultures. It isn’t simply recommendations of where to go and what to see, like promotional travel magazines, but rather tales of real people going out and seeing the world.
Point of View Quickly Brings a Story to Life
By G. Miki Hayden
Instructor at Writer's Digest University online and private writing coach
firstwriter.com – Wednesday December 4, 2019
Intimacy with characters will hook your readers
A close point of view, whether first person or third, will supply the inner meaning to a story. Such an intimate point of view brings to any piece of fiction insight, warmth, understandable human foibles, and an empathetic reader attraction to the character. This “limited” point of view facilitates a direct transmission of emotion. Without such a specific character perspective, all the readers have to enlighten them is outer description—although externals can, of course, go a long way to pointing to feeling and shoring up emotional declarations.
Why are great women writers still adopting male pseudonyms?
stylist.co.uk – Friday November 22, 2019
There are some interesting things you may or may not know about Nuneaton-born writer, George Eliot. In 2015, her landmark book, Middlemarch (1872), topped a BBC poll of the 100 greatest British novels and it’s been cited as one of the finest works ever written by such diverse writers as Virginia Woolf and Martin Amis.
But as well as her literary prowess, Eliot was also steeped in scandal. First she was ostracised by polite society for living openly with a married man, George Lewes. And then, after his death, her reputation took a further tumble when she married a man 20 years her junior only for him to attempt suicide on their honeymoon balcony in Venice.
To put it succinctly, the woman born Mary Ann or Marian Evans in 1819 is one of Britain’s greatest writers, having also written the stone-cold classics Adam Bede (1859), The Mill On The Floss (1860) and Silas Marner (1861) to name just a few. Yet Eliot remains something of an enigma.
In part, it’s thanks to her image as a slightly dour Victorian writer (her novels fell out of favour in the early 20th century only to be reappraised in the 1950s), but also, and more importantly, because of her male pen name. But just why did she feel the need to write under this false identity?