Richard Peck’s Ten Commandments for Writing for the Young

Den amerikanske forfatter Richard Peck har skrevet følgende no-nonsense guide til hvordan man skriver for unge mennesker:

1. Do not commit autobiography—use other people’s memories, not your own. (He writes in the first person to eliminate himself.)

2. Don’t begin the story too early—avoid too much background. Instead, start with the human voice (all readers are lonely) and action.

3. Do not allow adult characters to take over—especially the mother. A wise adult is okay, but the main character must solve the problem.

4. Avoid sentimentality. Childhood is a jungle, not a garden. You can’t both protect and portray characters. We’re writing the biographies of the survivors. If it’s too sweet, there’s no triumph.

5. Don’t patronize anybody—don’t write “down” and don’t give advice. Raise questions. What do you wonder? No unsolicited advice. No happily ever after.

6. Don’t attempt to recreate the wheel unaided. To write, you must read.

7. Do market research till it comes out your ears. Get publishers’ catalogues, read award-winners.

8. Don’t communicate with young readers by e-mail. Snail mail letters.

9. If you see an adverb, shoot it. Replace adverbs with better verbs; they are the mark of an amateur.

10. Use good vocabulary. Don’t write if you don’t know the meaning of “fustian.” (Sorry you¹ll have to look it up, just like we did!)

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Elmore Leonard: “Easy on the Hooptedoodle”

Den amerikanske forfatter, Elmore Leonard, der har skrevet en lang række krimier, heriblandt Rum Punch, der blev filmatiseret som “Jackie Brown” af Quentin Tarantino, har skam også skrevet sin egen lille poetik. Hvordan skriver man godt? Få svaret her:

Easy on the Hooptedoodle

These are rules I’ve picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I’m writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what’s taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip the rules. Still, you might look them over.

1. Never open a book with weather.

If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a character’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways to describe ice and snow than an Eskimo, you can do all the weather reporting you want.

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Mary Lefkowitz om religioner

Mary Lefkowitz, forfatter til “Greek Gods, Human Lives: What We Can Learn From Myths.” i New York Times den 27. december 2003:

In their most extreme forms, monotheistic religions are deeply intolerant. If there is only one right way of doing things, every other way is wrong. If we are good, others are evil. By contrast, the ancient Greeks and Romans welcomed new gods into their pantheon and worshiped them alongside the old. They had no crusades or jihads. The Roman authorities threw Christians to the lions because they mistook the early Christians’ intolerance for seditiousness. They did not seek to kill them because they rejected the Christians’ God.

– tak til Jesper Eising

Allan Bloom om frihed

Sindets frihed har ikke blot behov for ophævelsen af lovmæssige forhindringer, men sandelig også for alternative tanker. Det mest succesfulde demokrati påtvinger ikke ensrettethed, men fjerner simpelt hen bevidstheden om andre muligheder, gør det utænkeligt, at andre veje skulle være farbare og fjerner følelsen af, at der eksisterer en verden udenfor. Det er ikke følelser eller engagement, der gør et menneske frit, men tanker, diskuterede tanker. Følelser formes og præges stort set af konventionen. Virkelige forskelle udspringer af forskel i tankegang og fundamentale principper. Der er meget i demokratiet, der medvirker til at ødelægge bevidstheden om forskel.

[Allan Bloom: “Historien om vestens intellektuelle forfald”, (da. udgave, Gyldendal 1992, p. 241)]