Monday, November 25, 2013

Gentle Readers: A Warning

Do-It-Yourself books can do more harm than they do good.  Especially if you are a writer or trying to gain writing skills.  This was a lesson learned long ago, but I was tempted into harm by "Good Prose - Stories and Advice from a Lifetime of Writing and Editing" by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd.   Random House   195 pages   $26

I write about things I either saw or heard about.  Simple enough, right?  It would seem I'm doing it wrong.  According to the book, you can be first person - "I saw him drop the ball" or something called "restricted third person" or "limited third person." 

And then there is "first person minor" - "We met at MacDonald's."  The reader is told that this is the approach used by the august New Yorker which goes far to explain that while I love the cartoons, I have never, ever finished an entire article in those pages.  

The book goes on and on telling us how to write in the most erudite language possible along with copious illustrations of other writers' works.  Frankly, I think these two have run out of anything else to write and are just showing off.  Authors are quite capable of obfustication.

I am also reminded of the old adage, "Those who can, do; those who cannot, teach."  Yes, that saucer of cream goes right here, in front of me.    Purrr.

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