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The rise of robot authors: is the writing on the wall for human novelists?

theguardian.com – Monday March 25, 2019

Artificial intelligence can now write fiction and journalism. But does it measure up to George Orwell – and can it report on Brexit?

Will androids write novels about electric sheep? The dream, or nightmare, of totally machine-generated prose seemed to have come one step closer with the recent announcement of an artificial intelligence that could produce, all by itself, plausible news stories or fiction. It was the brainchild of OpenAI – a nonprofit lab backed by Elon Musk and other tech entrepreneurs – which slyly alarmed the literati by announcing that the AI (called GPT2) was too dangerous for them to release into the wild, because it could be employed to create “deepfakes for text”. “Due to our concerns about malicious applications of the technology,” they said, “we are not releasing the trained model.” Are machine-learning entities going to be the new weapons of information terrorism, or will they just put humble midlist novelists out of business?

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Inside Creative Writing’s Premier Talent Factory

nytimes.com – Sunday March 24, 2019

The remarkable number of notable writers who have studied or taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop includes Flannery O’Connor, Robert Lowell, Dylan Thomas, Rita Dove, Sandra Cisneros, Kurt Vonnegut, John Irving and Marilynne Robinson. In “A Delicate Aggression,” David O. Dowling, an associate professor at Iowa’s journalism school, tells the “cultural and industrial history” of the workshop through a series of biographical portraits. He captures writers “in their formative years taking their first tentative steps toward professional careers, forming alliances and rivalries among intimidating world-renowned faculty and high-powered peers.” He writes about the program’s blend of mentoring and marketing, its rigor and its wiles. Below, he discusses the workshop’s founder, Irving defending Vonnegut’s honor in a fight, how Ralph Waldo Emerson helped to inspire this book and more.

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The agent, her authors and the legal battles worthy of a bestseller

smh.com.au – Friday March 22, 2019

Selwa Anthony is ensconced on an avocado-green leather sofa, a chihuahua reclining on either side of her. The leading literary agent is small but commanding, a diminutive grande dame with sharp brown eyes and long purple fingernails. As always, she is carefully coiffured and glamorously dressed, as if her next appointment were a cocktail party. But Anthony's mood on this warm afternoon is more defiant than festive. "Everything I've done in my life has been boots and all," she says.

Literary agents are behind-the-scenes people. Their job is to foster writers' careers and secure them good publishing deals: they rarely make news in their own right. Yet Anthony has had a central role in not one but two headline-grabbing court cases in the past year. First, she was in the thick of a battle over the estate of her friend Colleen McCullough, best-known as the author of the blockbuster outback saga The Thorn Birds. Then came the showdown with her former star client, bestselling mystery-romance writer Kate Morton. Anthony, who initiated the legal action against Morton, ended up feeling that her own professional reputation was on trial. In the witness box, she was grilled for hours. "It was terrible, terrible, terrible," she says, as sunlight streams into her harbourside Sydney apartment.

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All write now: writing is a numbers game

montclairlocal.news – Sunday March 17, 2019

I woke up this morning to a rejection email in my inbox. It was for a short, lyrical essay I had written and submitted nearly a year ago. A piece I was quite fond of. A piece I was hopeful would actually find a home. The rejection hurt more than usual, as my piece apparently went through several rounds of consideration and came close to being chosen for publication. SO! CLOSE! ::shakes fists at sky::

Still, after the briefest of mourning periods, I opened up the spreadsheet in which I tracked my numbers of pitches and submissions, moved this particular publication to the “rejected by” column, and considered where I might send my piece next. And that was that. Onward!

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Writing the novel you want to see in the world

irishtimes.com – Saturday March 2, 2019

In 2014 Lisa Coen and I put out our first book under the Tramp Press banner. We were young. I was bullish, irritated by the over-productive, under-resourced, gate-keeping male-centric world of publishing we’d experienced as office juniors or unpaid interns.

We wondered: what if we could secure funding from the Arts Council to help us start out on our own, publishing just a few titles a year, focusing on nothing but their extraordinary quality?

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To Prescribe or Not to Prescribe: My Unsolicited Writing Advice

swarthmorephoenix.com – Thursday February 28, 2019

There is no one way to write. End of sentence. Fullstop. The level of self-righteous prescriptivism within the realm of writing frustrates me to no end, and in my experience as a writer, absolutist advice is oftentimes the worst advice of all. In fact, absolutist advice isn’t advice at all, but rather, a command, as if to say, “You have to write in a certain way to let me justify my own beliefs about the proper way to write.” To express my frustration at literary prescriptivists, I compiled this list of the five best and worst tidbits of writing advice that I’ve ever received. (A bit hypocritical? Maybe.) Of course, not every piece of advice will suit every person’s writing, but following the good tips and maintaining a level of skepticism for the bad ones has allowed me, personally, to develop my craft.

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Agent as editor

By G. Miki Hayden
Instructor at Writer's Digest University online and private writing coach

firstwriter.com – Tuesday February 26, 2019

Agent as editor. An oxymoron?

Some authors want their agents to act as first editor of the book and some don’t. Often agents will suggest changes even before they accept the writer as a client. Then you’re the one who will have to decide how badly you want that person to represent you. 

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Avoid These Bad Habits in Your Writing

lifehacker.com – Tuesday February 19, 2019

The top copy editor at Random House has a book out about what you should and shouldn’t do in your writing, and people are already arguing about it. All writing advice is relative, because language is not physics, it’s something people made up. That doesn’t mean writing advice is useless, so if you like to write and are trying to get better at it, you should read this excerpt from Benjamin Dreyer’s book Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style.

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Writing a Book: It’s Harder than You Think

goodmenproject.com – Sunday February 17, 2019

If I have heard it once, I have heard it one hundred times. “I can write better than that. I will just write my own book.” Or another one is “that book had so many grammatical errors. I can do better than that.”

The same mantra goes for web articles, blogs, case studies, and more. However, let’s look at this realistically. Writing a book is a lot harder than you think. It takes longer, saps more of your energy, and requires a determination that frankly, most people don’t have, at least not for writing. I’ve written 12 so far, and I can tell you this for sure. It doesn’t get any easier.

So, what is it like to actually write a book, front to back, opening to the end? Here are a few reasons writing a book is harder than you think.

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Bestselling authors “spread their wings and challenge themselves,” an interview with authors Sara Connell & A.G. Howard

thriveglobal.com – Tuesday February 12, 2019

As part of my series on the “5 Things You Need to Know to Write a Bestselling Book,” I had the pleasure of interviewing A.G. Howard.

A.G. Howard, the #1 New York Times and international bestselling author of young adult retellings and adaptations. Her titles include theSplintered series,a gothic Alice in Wonderland spin-off; RoseBlood, a Phantom of the Opera–inspired adaptation; and her latest release, Stain, a gritty fairy tale/high fantasy inspired by The Princess and the Pea.

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