Monday, July 6, 2009

Posts for writers; Free is taken to task

I've read a couple of blog posts in the past week or so that are worth considering if you're a writer:

David Pogue, posting on the New York Times blog, answers a reader's question: "When will you share your productivity tips with us? Not everyone can write five books a year, file two columns a week, churn out a daily blog, speak 40 times a year and film a video every Thursday. What are your secrets?" Hint: long work hours, speech recognition, and typing short cuts.

In his blog, Wordwork, journalist Dan Baum calls for the elimination of the nut graph. He says having a paragraph that sums up the writer's thesis is a useful convention for news reporters and newspaper readers, but that it's counterproductive in longer works. I tend to agree.

In the business book world, Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson's new book Free: The Future of a Radical Price (Hyperion) is attracting plenty of criticism. First, a blogger named Waldo Jaquith at Virginia Quarterly Review discovered that Anderson had lifted passages in the book from Wikipedia without attribution and Anderson apologized, blaming sloppy editing. Then, Malcolm Gladwell, another popular writer in the one-idea-per-book genre, criticized Free for its sloppy thinking in a New Yorker review. And today, Janet Maslin criticized Free as just plain sloppy in the New York Times' Books of the Times column. Hmmm...seems like a theme is developing.

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