Is the Internet Making Writing Better?
newyorker.com – Friday July 26, 2019
A common refrain from writers on Twitter is that writing is hard. Often, this insight is accompanied by the rueful observation that tweeting is easy. This is, of course, the difference between informal and formal expression, between language that serves as a loose and intuitive vehicle for thought and language into which one must wrestle one’s thought like a parent forcing his squirming kid into a car seat. We’ve long had both formal and informal modes of speech. The first pours from political orators; the second winds around friends at a bar. But, as the linguist Gretchen McCulloch reveals in “Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language,” her effervescent study of how the digital world is transfiguring English, informal writing is relatively new. Most writing used to be regulated (or self-regulated); there were postcards and diary entries, but even those had standards. It’s only with the rise of the Internet that a truly casual, willfully ephemeral prose has ascended—and become central to daily life.
McCulloch begins with a taxonomy; different cohorts of users have different linguistic tells. “Pre Internet People” (think grandparents) tend to avoid acronyms like “ttyl”—mostly because they don’t know acronyms like “ttyl.” “Semi Internet People,” who logged on, in the late nineteen-nineties and early two-thousands, as adults, are more likely to type “LOL” than “lol”; they don’t view digital conversation as the place for tonal subtlety. “Full Internet People,” who grew up with AOL Instant Messenger and joined Facebook as young adults, are fluent in text-speak but perhaps less steeped in the grammar of newer platforms like Snapchat and WhatsApp. (McCulloch identifies a source of mutual misunderstanding between Full Internet People, who “infer emotional meaning” in symbols like the ellipsis, and Semi Internet People, who perceive such additions as straightforward bits of sentence structure.) Finally, there are “Post Internet People,” who joined Facebook after, rather than before, their parents. They’re the ones to watch: the digital avant-garde.
Library E-Book Lending Poses Rising Problem for Publishing Industry
wsj.com – Friday July 26, 2019
One of the country’s largest book publishers is changing the way it sells e-books to libraries, whose increasingly popular digital-book borrowing apps are taking a toll on its sales.
Macmillan, whose recent hits include Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” and James Comey’s “A Higher Loyalty,” plans to limit each library system’s access to only one digital copy of each new book it publishes in the first eight weeks of the book’s release.
The move comes as borrowing e-books from local libraries has become easier than ever and as other leading publishers have adjusted their terms.
Abrams Artists Lit Agents Brad Rosenfeld, Paul Weitzman & Karen Kirkland Exit to Launch New WGA Signatory Agency
deadline.com – Thursday July 25, 2019
Veteran literary agents Brad Rosenfeld and Paul Weitzman are leaving Abrams Artists Agency after a 4.5-year stint as VPs and co-heads of the literary division. Partnered with fellow Abrams lit agent Karen Kirkland, the trio have launched a new agency, Culture Creative Entertainment, which has become a WGAsignatory, signing the guild’s new franchise agreement.
According to the principals, CCE will initially focus on writers and directors but will expand to include other areas of representation as they grow.
The move comes more than 100 days into the standoff between the Writers Guild of America and the Association of Talent Agents, which led to more than 7,000 writers firing their agents, including those represented by Abrams Artists.
New Magazine Listing
firstwriter.com – Wednesday July 24, 2019
Areas include: Fantasy; Sci-Fi; Short Stories;
Publishes speculative fiction stories from 100 to 1,500 words, including science fiction, fantasy, slipstream, etc. Send submissions through online submissions system.
London's Coda Agency rebrands as Paradigm
iq-mag.net – Tuesday July 23, 2019
After five years as partners, London’s Coda Agency has formally merged into its Los Angeles-based parent company, Paradigm Talent Agency, becoming Paradigm London, the companies announced this morning (22 July).
Coda partners Alex Hardee, Tom Schroeder, James Whitting and Dave Hallybone will continue to lead the London office, now under the Paradigm banner.
Prior to becoming one agency, Paradigm and Coda hared more than 500 clients. Paradigm’s roster of globally represented artists includes Halsey, Imagine Dragons, Janet Jackson, Billie Eilish, Kacey Musgraves, Tiësto, Liam Gallagher, Missy Elliott, Shawn Mendes, Sia, Kenny Chesney, Jess Glynne, Charli XCX, Bastille and Sturgill Simpson.
Crime writers mystified by Colm Tóibín’s criticism
irishtimes.com – Tuesday July 23, 2019
Colm Tóibín aggravated a long-standing literary sore point last weekend when he told a Guardian interviewer: “I can’t do thrillers and I can’t do spy novels.”
Asked which books he felt were most overrated, he said: “I can’t do any genre-fiction books, really, none of them. I just get bored with the prose. I don’t find any rhythm in it. It’s blank, it’s nothing; it’s like watching TV.”
He does not, in fact, watch television. “I don’t have a TV. Everyone talks about the golden age of American TV but it’s done nothing for me.”
'Ridiculed and not taken seriously': why fan fiction deserves more credit
smh.com.au – Saturday July 20, 2019
When Astrid Scholte was a teenager she was enthralled by the science fiction television series Farscape, a sweeping intergalactic space opera. She couldn't get enough.
The internet was a smaller universe in 2000, but online Scholte discovered a trove of fictional stories inspired by the characters and world of the show, written by other obsessed fans.
Soon, Scholte started studiously writing her own "episodes" to broaden the dimensions of her favourite television show.
"I didn't realise what I was doing was fan fiction. I did not realise there was a term distinctly defined back then," Scholte says.
These days, Scholte receives her own notes from fans after publishing her debut young adult fantasy novel Four Dead Queens in March.
Audible's Captions Program Stirs Fears, Frustration Among Publishers
publishersweekly.com – Saturday July 20, 2019
“Outrageous” and “copyright infringement” were the first two (unsolicited) emails PW received from independent publishers when word of Audible’s new program to run text along side its audiobooks began to spread. The program, called Captions, which requires the company to transcribe audio to text, was highlighted in a story in USA Today with a headline touting that Audible is looking to let customers “ ‘read’ an audiobook while [they] listen.” While the company disputes that description, saying Captions is not at all akin to the act of reading, publishers, literary agents, and organizations representing authors are skeptical.
While Audible said in a statement that Captions “does not replicate or replace the print or eBook reading experience,” publishers are unconvinced. “There are real copyright issues here and authors, publishers, and agents should review and clarify their positions,” said Dominique Raccah, CEO of Sourcebooks. “It seems unlikely that Audible was granted these rights.”
Adventures in Script-Writing
counterpunch.org – Friday July 19, 2019
Over the years I’ve had approximately twenty scripts produced at small theaters in and around Hollywood and Orange County. None of these plays were celebrated or spectacular, mind you, just some offbeat comedies (in what might be called the “minimalist” tradition) that were fortunate enough to attract modest audiences willing to pay $25.
Live theater, particularly when you’re doing original scripts, is a fascinating process. You start by submitting a script to the artistic director of a theater. If they agree to produce it, you hold auditions, cast the roles, conduct rehearsals (usually four to six weeks), have your “tech week” (where the cast dresses in their costumes, and all the technical stuff—lights, musical cues, and special effects—are integrated into the performance), followed by opening night. Which is both exhilarating and terrifying.
Original plays are also challenging in ways that established plays are not. The difference between an actor doing material by a dead playwright like Arthur Miller or Agatha Christie, and doing material by a famous but living playwright like Christopher Durang or Beth Henley, is that the actor is never going to suggest to the director that the script be changed. Not in his or her wildest dreams would they suggest such a thing. (“Can’t we shorten that speech by Hamlet?” Make it lighter?”)
New Publisher Listing
firstwriter.com – Friday July 19, 2019
Publishes: Fiction; Nonfiction; Poetry;
Areas include: Short Stories;
Publishes novels, textbooks, poetry, short stories, photo essays, graphic novels, short-form personal essays and long-form nonfiction work. Query via form on website.