The Mark Program

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WRITERS' REEL: Language as a Window into Human Nature

In this new RSA Animate, renowned experimental psychologist Steven Pinker shows us how the mind turns the finite building blocks of language into infinite meanings. Taken from the RSA's free public events programme www.thersa.org/events.

GREETINGS FROM DALMATIA: EXERCISES IN IMAGINATION

Although it would be nice, I’m not writing this from Dalmatia. However, in many ways, I may as well be. Most of my manuscript takes place on or around islands on the Dalmatian coast. Ironically, I haven’t visited this part of the world in a decade, so I’m constantly trying to conjure up the landscape to help with writing the setting.

BOOKMARK THIS: Famous Books You Didn’t Know Were Censored

This week we have been examining banned and challenged pieces of literature that continue to face attempted censorship. Flavorwire compiled a list of famous books that most people would be surprised to find were censored. The article reads:

To Outline or Not To Outline

I tend to cringe at formulas, probably because I was never any good at math or chemistry. If I studied hard enough before a test, I might do okay. But in due time, I’d forget everything. So it stands to reason that when it comes to writing fiction, I tend to reject anything that smacks of formula on principle.

WRITERS' REEL: Junot Díaz On How He Writes

On the publication of his collection This Is How You Lose Her, Junot Díaz, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, talks about how he writes novels and short stories and the inspiration behind them.

PROMPTS

I know they aren’t cool, and I know a lot of writers hate them, but I'll admit it: I love writing prompts.

I can understand why many literary folk roll their eyes at them. Why would you want someone to tell you when and what to write about?

CUTTING AND CRINGING AND CUTTING

I have been cutting a lot from the stories in my collection. I feel the need to trim the stories to make them tighter. In my mid-project review notes, advisor Rob Roberge encouraged me to cut 10-12 pages from a forty-page story. He said, “Trying to cut 20-25% is a great exercise in editing.” I’ve been experimenting with this challenge. The result is that the writing is getting tighter. However, the original parts aren’t a waste.

Bookmark This: Louis CK & Catcher in the Rye

Have you ever noticed the correlation between Louis C.K.'s humor and J.D. Salinger's writing style? Minh Le over at Book Riot did. He writes, "The other day I was flipping through Catcher in the Rye, and after a few pages I realized that the narrator in my head was Louis C.K. Which, as I kept reading, turned out to be kind of perfect."