Short Saturday: The Book Is the Thing

Since the beginning of this year, publishing thought leader Jane Friedman has offered an interview series called 5 On. Each discussion is conducted by author Chris Jane, who “asks established, traditionally published authors and experienced self-published authors five questions about writing and five questions about their experiences with the publishing industry.”

These 5 On articles are always very interesting. This week we hear from Nathan Bransford, a former literary agent who writes fiction and blogs (and also—authors take note—has a day job to keep hearth and home together). It’s a good one.

Take this one exchange. I get asked this question a lot, and I always say I’m not qualified to answer—I can’t spend a lot of time tracking the nuances of the publishing game. I gotta edit, y’all.

Q: Publishers want authors to have a platform. It stands to reason, then, that agents will also want authors to have a platform. Would a fiction writer without a niche-market message (and, therefore, probably without the same kind of platform a nonfiction writer might have) simply add in the bio section of the query letter, “I have a Facebook account with X number of friends, a Twitter account with X number of followers,” etc.? If the numbers are low, is it better to not mention the accounts at all? And what if a writer has instead managed to prove a different promotional skill, such as writing and sending press releases and securing interviews and book reviews? Should that be included in a query? Would it be valuable to an agent and/or editor?

A: I think it’s really important to think of a platform beyond social media and not to overthink it when it comes to fiction especially. A platform is a rough combination of your authority as an author (whether your expertise or your credentials) and the number of eyeballs you can summon to read your book to give it an initial boost. That doesn’t have to be through social media. If you have a fan base through some other platform, if you are well-connected, if you are active on a conference circuit, a platform can take many forms.

But you don’t need a platform to sell a novel. You really, really don’t. It can help, but at the end of the day it’s the book that counts. That’s not a platitude, it’s really true. So yeah, if you don’t have a platform, don’t try to convince an agent you have one, and don’t apologize for not having one. Just pitch your book. And if you do have a platform, mention it, but don’t belabor it. The book is still by far the most important thing.

It’s a good answer. And I agree: the quality of the manuscript trumps everything.

Tweet: An established author talks about writing & publishing.
Tweet: The quality of the manuscript trumps everything, for real.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Posted in The Book Biz | Tagged as: , , , , ,

The Second. Or Even the Third.

To see what fiction-editing craft might be, start by looking at the faults it’s intended to detect. There are two kinds: surface faults and internal faults. A surface fault is local, as immediately evident to the naked eye as a skin blemish. You can point to specific words that constitute it. Most surface faults do not produce delayed reations.

They include failutres of diction, grace, freshness, materiality, credibility, pace, vividness, understandability, interest. These dermal components—blemishes and triumphs together—because they are on the surface, don’t require special craft to detect. They require diligence, solid training in English, a good sensibility. Given these qualities, any editor can tweeze, scrub, and buff, so that at least the skin of the script will be acceptable to the eye.

Diligence is required because the potential number of dermal blemishes is immense. A reader’s responses are all but uncountable. He reacts, however fleetingly, to each word, to its combination with other words, to their sequence, to clichés, repetitions, stale modifiers, abstract generalities where concrete spcificities are needed, phrases, images, and metaphors that simply misfire, wit that is not witty. But, again, they’re right there, on the surface, and sensitibility alone—supported by diligent application—will be sufficient to spot them. They can be red-penciled on the page en passant during the second read.

(The second. Rarely should a book be edited on only one reading. A pencil may be close by on first read, but used only to flag quick items. Reading fiction with a pencil in hand the first time vitiates apt response.

For example, some editors, during their first reading, do such things as write a list of the characters, their descriptions, and a diagram of their relationships. This helps the editor to keep things clear. But the private reader doesn’t so this, so the editor has disjoined his own reaction from that of the audience.

Such editors will often then base their editorial remarks solely on their many notes. This yields a second example: Suppose something early in the novel turns out to be irrelevant. It would not have been flagged the first time through because the irrelevance wasn’t evident at that time. So it will never be flagged. There are lots more reasons why a one-reading edit is inadequate, and serious writers should be disturbed if they know it’s happening to them.)

Thomas McCormack

Transcribed by me from pages 16–17 of my paperback copy of The Fiction Editor, the Novel, and the Novelist, Paul Dry Books © 2006.

 

Tweet: An editor is your first reader, your first audience.
Tweet: “Rarely should a book be edited on only one reading.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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Short Saturday: Milieu, Idea, Character, Event

I think about these elements all the time, of course—milieu, idea, character, event—but this article from science fiction author Orson Scott Card made me think of them differently. He says one of the four determines the structure of the novel.

Thus a milieu story is begun by an arrival and ended by a departure (or perhaps, a decision not to depart). An idea story begins by raising a question and ends by answering it. A character story begins with a character beginning a process of change and ends when the change is completed (or fails). An event story begins with a world out of order and ends when order is reestablished.

Here Card discusses the event story:

In other words, the viewpoint character, not the narrator, is our guide into the world situation. We start with the small part of the world that he knows and understands and see only as much of the disorder of the universe as he can. It takes many days—and many pages—before Frodo stands before the council of Elrond, the whole situation having been explained to him, and says, “I will take the ring, though I do not know the way.” By the time a lengthy explanation is given, we have already seen much of the disorder of the universe for ourselves—the Black Riders, the hoodlums in Bree, the barrow wights—and have met the true king, Aragorn, in his disguise as Strider. In other words, by the time we are given the full explanation of the world, we already care about the people involved in saving it.

Too many writers of event stories, especially epic fantasies, don’t learn this lesson from Tolkien. Instead, they imagine that their poor reader won’t be able to understand what’s going on if they don’t begin with a prologue showing the “world situation.” Alas, these prologues always fail. Because we aren’t emotionally involved with any characters, because we don’t yet care, the prologues are meaningless. They are also usually confusing, as a half-dozen names are thrown at us all at once. I have learned as a book reviewer that it’s usually best to skip the prologue and begin with the story—as the author also should have done. I have never—not once—found that by skipping the prologue I missed some information I needed to have in order to read the story; and when I have read the prologue first, I have never—not once—found it interesting, helpful or even understandable.

It’s a longish article, but worth digging into.

Tweet: One of these four elements determines the structure of the novel.
Tweet: Orson Scott Card neatly explains why some prologues fail.
Tweet: A milieu story is begun by an arrival and ended by a departure.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Posted in The Writing Craft | Tagged as: , , ,

Editing Babar

With a convert’s proverbial fervor, I rushed pell-mell into the very heart of what I considered Babar’s unresolved problem: his mother’s death, of course.

I never quite got over that death. The ease and remarkable calm with which de Brunhoff blighted the life of his baby elephant numbed me. That sublimely happy babyhood lost after only two pictures! Then, as in a nightmare (and too much like life), Babar, cruelly and arbitrarily deprived of his loving mother, runs wildly out of babyhood (the innocent jungle) and into cozy, amnesia-inducing society (Paris, only blocks away from that jungle). It is there that he feverishly embraces adulthood, culture, manners, any distraction, to forget the hideous trauma of that useless death. Or so it seemed to me then. Why give us a mother’s death and then deprive us of the pleasure of wallowing in its psychological repercussions? Why not, in fact, go back and find another, less volatile reason for Babar to flee the jungle? Easy enough solution, thought I. In summation, I judged this death to be a gratuitously punishing touch, an issue raised and bewilderingly passed over. Somehow I missed the point. It took years of further exposure to the work of many different artists, my own redefinition of the picture-book form, and much growing up to complete my appreciation of Babar.

Maurice Sendak, “Jean de Brunhoff”

Transcribed by me from page 97 of my hardcover edition of Caldecott & Co.: Notes on Books & Pictures, © 1988 Farrer, Straus and Giroux.

 

Tweet: Children’s author Maurice Sendak discusses Babar.
Tweet: Did you love the Babar stories? I did. Maurice Sendak did too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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Study This: At the Movies

I read recently that John Harrington, in his book Film And/Is Art, estimated that a third of all movies ever made have been adapted from novels; another writer claims that 51 percent of the top 2,000 films of the last 20 years were adaptations (from novels, short stories, or stage plays). And the most common source for movie adaptations? Literary fiction. Harrington says,

Nearly all of the works of classic literature students study in high school have been adapted for film—some many times and in multiple languages, settings, or formats. For example, there are over 200 film versions of Sherlock Holmes, from a silent film made in 1916 by William Gillette to the reimagined 2010 Masterpiece version starring Benedict Cumberbatch. There are nearly 50 film versions of Romeo and Juliet, from a 1900 French version called Roméo et Juliette to the 2011 animated American film Gnomeo and Juliet.

Still, I have spent a lot of time explaining to writers that books aren’t movies. Yes, yes, both tell stories about characters. And the same elements—plot, motivation, conflict, and so on—have to be conveyed to the audience. But they tell them in such different ways that I usually balk at ever using an example from a movie to illustrate a point.

It’s just a completely different way of telling a story.

That said, good writing is good writing. There are things you can learn from movies with some intentional viewing.

For example, I often recommend the study of scriptwriting for authors who struggle with writing realistic dialogue. Take that one step further and study dialogue-driven movies—say, Pulp Fiction or Fargo (actually, anything by Quentin Tarantino or the Coen brothers). Notice these are original screenplays, not derived from plays or novels. (Because we’re studying movies here, yo.) Woody Allen excels at you-are-there dialogue too—Hannah and Her Sisters, Midnight in Paris, Annie Hall all won Oscars for Best Original Screenplay. And for my money, Aaron Sorkin’s original television series The West Wing is a brilliant lesson in dialogue.

Authors sometimes have trouble keeping contemporary speech patterns out of their historical novels, too, and it can be helpful to watch period films for ideas. We don’t know for certain how folks in the Regency period, for example, spoke to each other—and modern viewers probably wouldn’t understand them anyway, between the syntax and the unfamiliar words—but writers can glean ways to bridge the gap between complete authenticity and what feels authentic (which is good enough).

Agent Wendy Lawton points out that we can learn a lot about POV from studying camera angles: wide angle gives us context, while close-ups give us detail, and the author is the one holding the camera, so to speak:

The use of wide angle in storytelling was never so expertly used as in the opening of the movie, Forrest Gump. A feather floats over the town so that we’re given a bird’s eye view of the entire scope of the story-world until it drifts down and settles on one Forrest Gump. Brilliant. From context to close up.

There are other elements of POV to study, too, in films like Best in Show, The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Rear Window, The Terminator, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Watch these to see how much story can be conveyed with a limited POV. It’s relatively easy to show context in a movie; but in a book you can either show (like the movie does) context or tell context … and if you’ve been hanging out here, you already know showing is better.

You can watch great movies for storytelling—plotting and foreshadowing—and pacing. It doesn’t matter whether they move fast or slow, these films dole out the clues so cleverly that you’ll be convinced you were lied to: Chinatown, Memento, Psycho, Se7en, The Sixth Sense, The Usual Suspects, Vertigo. But they’re the real thing. Watch them again and you’ll see what I mean.

Seems like movies are pushing the boundaries of storytelling too. Consider the Before SunriseBefore SunsetBefore Midnight films cowritten by director Richard Linklater and the actors Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, with their minimalist plots but lots of talk. Boyhood, written and directed by Linklater, was filmed over a period of eleven years and, according to Wikipedia, was largely unscripted. I haven’t seen The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, but Time magazine notes the director wanted to tell the story of a broken relationship from both viewpoints and ended up making three separate films: him, her, and them. Stranger Than Fiction follows an average guy who begins hearing a disembodied voice narrating his life as it happens, which sounds a bit strange but really works. Even Love, Actually, with its multiple storylines, has something to say about pacing. And I’ve always loved Shakespeare in Love for sheer creativity—think of what you can do (and what Tracy Chevalier, Hilary Mantel, and E. L. Doctorow have done) building fiction around historical characters.

So, yes, you can pick up some writing tips from studying movies. Just remember: a movie tells a stripped-down story consisting of action, dialogue, and all the things the camera can show… like

• acting (looks, facial expressions, gestures, movement);
• sound (music, sound effects, ambient noise);
• POV (camera angle, lighting, color, movement); and
• milieu (setting, costumes, props), just for starters.

Just think about how much that five-second wide-angle shot tells you. A pan across a large city … say, with trees in bloom, leafing out—ah, it’s spring! … which happens to have the Eiffel Tower in it (Paris!) … with a zoom showing actors in period costume … See? The camera is, in effect, the narrator. Or, at least, a substitute for narrative.

In a novel, all those things must be written. But there are other advantages:

• a narrator who can speak about other characters or interpret meaning directly or indirectly;
• narrative in general (including description);
• inner monologue (thoughts, say, of a protagonist with inner conflict);
• figurative language (images, metaphors, symbolism);
• no limits on time (stretching a timeline over decades or centuries) or
• budget (a cast of thousands? no prob!).

Have a look at this article for a good overview of the difference between screenwriting and novel writing.

No matter where you look for inspiration, though, you must remember that books and movies are different. You can’t just watch a story play out in your imagination and then write it down.* Well, you can, but don’t send it to me, because that ain’t no novel, kids.

* I discussed this in a little more detail here.

 

Tweet: A third of all movies ever made have been adapted from novels. Think about that.
Tweet: Watch great movies for storytelling—plotting & foreshadowing—& pacing.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Posted in The Arts & Media, The Writing Craft | Tagged as: , , , , , , ,

Short Saturday: Cutting Editorial Costs

Everybody knows—that is, any writer worth his or her salt—that a good editor is golden. And you’ll have to pay for that gold. So I was prepared to be annoyed by this article, given the headline (in its entirety: “5 Ways to Cut the Cost of a Professional Editor”). But as it turns out, it’s exactly what I’ve been telling y’all. :)

You’ll recognize this first one, I’m sure:

1. Don’t send your first draft
Don’t even send your second or third draft. Wait until you feel you can do no more with your story beyond changing that comma to a full stop and back again. It’s at that moment, when you feel you’re ready to self-publish your novel or send it to an agent, when you should, in fact, send your manuscript to a professional editor.

Unless you’ve been through a revision process with a story consultant or writing coach, then your first contact with an editor will be for substantive editing where you’ll get help with plot, structure, character development and flow. If these story elements aren’t already well established, you’ll be paying for the editor to help you rewrite. Revise as much as possible first, and you’ll definitely save on editing costs.

You’ll recognize the other four tips too. Check it out.

Tweet: I was prepared to be annoyed by this article, given the headline, but I like it.
Tweet: Want to cut your editorial costs? This is how.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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Born Storyteller

Amy Gallup is an aging novelist and writing instructor in Jincy Willett’s 2013 novel Amy Falls Down. She’s traveling by train across the country …

That evening Amy decided to take supper in the dining car. The maître d’, a magenta-coiffed young woman whose job it apparently was to segregate the diners according to age, seated her with Thelma Schoon, a hearty old dame who hailed from Lincoln, Nebraska, and was thinking of writing a book about it. She recognized Amy from TV and asked where she got her ideas, but soon turned the conversation to her own story.

Thelma could still remember things that had happened when she was barely two years old. She must have been born in the middle of the Depression, as she had clear memories of men coming to the back door of her house, asking her mother if she had any old shirts. “They were trying to get jobs, and they needed white shirts. We never threw out any of Daddy’s, in case someone could use them.” Thelma’s parents had been academics, teaching “at the U.” Tenure had fed and housed them. She talked about family sabbaticals, summers in Puget and Long Island Sound, and about her mother teaching Arapaho children before she got married. It was the mother who told Thelma she was a “born storyteller.” This was false. She had phenomenal recollection of detail—what any true writer could have done with that!—but no sense of what made a story worth telling. As they waded through baked trout, artichoke hearts, and a not-bad Chablis, Thelma rambled through a childhood recorded but not really taken in. Listening to her was like viewing someone’s vacation slides. Of course, Thelma had a story—everyone has a story—but she did not seem to know what it was, and didn’t know she didn’t know. Knowing what your story is, Amy was fond of telling her classes, was what separated writers from everybody else.

Amy proded her now again with questions. Did you ever attend your father’s lectures? Did your mother miss the Arapaho? But none touched off a true narrative. Amy found her mildly interesting despite the chaos, the one-damn-thing-after-anotherness, of her memory stores. Her hair was iron gray and collected at her nape in an intricate bun. She wore no wedding ring and never mentioned children, and as she spoke, her eyes took in the dining car, the diners, Amy, the crossing lights outside their window, filing it all away with care.

Jincy Willett

Transcribed by me from pages 294–96 of my hardcover edition of Amy Falls Down, © 2013 Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press.

 

Tweet: You need a narrative—a story—when you’re writing memoir.
Tweet: Authors will recognize the story here. :)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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The One That Got Away While I Was Sipping Lemonade

This happens to me three or four times a year: I get an email referral from an agent, or someone at a publishing house, or another author I’ve worked with for a job that I would really, really love to have. Sometimes that’s because the publisher is one I haven’t worked with before, sometimes it’s because I find the manuscript intriguing, sometimes it’s because the author is someone well-known (I am as star-struck as the next person) or someone about to be well-known. Most importantly, the project has come to me first, because I’ve been referred.

I thank the sender for his or her interest in my work, thank the referring party. I say, Yes, I’m interested in this project. I ask a few questions—

What type of editing are we talking about?
What’s the word count of the manuscript?
What’s the due date?

—because invariably this information hasn’t been offered up front. I mention my website (since the author is being referred and may not have seen it) by way of introduction, and include a link.

Then I get back to work, which is the pertinent point. Time’s a-wastin’.

You see, I’m self-employed. If I’m not working, I’m not earning. I’m working on something right now. And I’ve got something lined up to work on tomorrow and the next day too. And next week and next month. To be frank, I have a queue.

Some time later, I’ll hear back from the author or agent. Often this email chase can go on for hours or days. I spend time on it; it can be like pulling teeth to gather the information I need to propose a fee. Sometimes I have to read a writing sample and offer an opinion. All of this takes time away from work, but eventually I write up an email proposal for the project, with a quote and an estimated time I’ll start the work. My start date can be anywhere from three or four weeks to three or four months from now. (Sometimes even longer “in the rainy season.”)

That’s when I hear the client would like a full developmental edit (or whatever) done a week from now.

Seriously, dude? What were you thinking? I’m not sitting around sipping lemonade on the patio, waiting for you to call. Do you call a surgeon and expect to get in today? An oncologist or any medical specialist? No, you do not. (Maybe if it’s a medical emergency. But there are no emergencies in publishing, just procrastination or poor planning.)

And just because I tell you that copyedit will take me approximately sixty hours, don’t do the math and assume I can have it done in seven or eight days. The American Copy Editors Society recommends a maximum of six hours of copyediting in any given day, if an editor wants to remain sharp. And I have other work-related things to do (like answer emails that don’t tell me everything I need to know, just for starters).

You can imagine how I feel when I have to say no to a job I’d like to have. I do have a short list of good editors whose work I respect to whom I can refer you—but very often they’re not going to be able to make your date either. Because they’re professionals who are making appointments too. Just last week I got an email from one of them:

WHY DO “WRITERS” EXPECT EDITORS TO BE SITTING AROUND WAITING AND READY TO COPYEDIT 78,000 WORDS IN LESS THAN A WEEK?!?!?!!!!!!

I left the all-caps and punctuation just so you’d sense the frustration. :)

It’s exactly how I felt a few weeks ago when I had to turn down a project I would have liked to have. But I couldn’t have the edit finished to meet the author’s very short deadline, and he took it elsewhere. And I—of course!—went back to the patio to sip a little more lemonade.

Tweet: I’m not sitting around sipping lemonade on the patio, waiting for you to call.
Tweet: The client wants a full edit (or whatever) done a week from now. Seriously?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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Short Saturday: The Way We Speak

By now you surely know I’m fascinated by the way people speak, how they use syntax and language. It’s almost inevitably a result of the location of our upbringing. And I was delighted when a friend pointed me to this article about code switching, which is the tendency of someone with a strong regional accent to speak differently—to suppress the accent or not—depending on his or her audience.

I grew up hearing my parents code-switch, because they left those communities. They were both the first in their (large) families to go to college, and we lived in a town — still in Appalachia, but outside the more isolated, small communities where they both grew up. You could hear my mother’s voice change when she called her parents on the phone. To neighbors where we lived, it was your basic “Hi, how are you?” To her own parents, it was “Howdydo. Howre you’uns a-doin?”

She still does that when she calls her dad or brothers, or when we visit them. And so do I. It seems you only need to code-switch when you leave.

Like the blogger, I think an accent should be celebrated, not ridiculed, not denied. Oh, I enjoyed this article! You will too.

Tweet: I think an accent should be celebrated, not ridiculed, not denied. I love your accent!
Tweet: Should you suppress your strong regional accent to avoid being judged by it?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Posted in Words & Language | Tagged as: , ,

Looking It Up

The “English dictionary,” in the sense that we commonly use the phrase today—as an alphabetically arranged list of English words, together with an explanation of their meanings—is a relatively new invention. Four hundred years ago there was no such convenience available on any English bookshelf.

There was none available, for instance, when William Shakespeare was writing his plays. Whenever he came to use an unusual word, or to set a word in what seemed an unusual context—and his plays are extraordinarily rich with examples … He would not be able to find any book that might tell him if the word he had chosen was properly spelled, whether he had selected it correctly, or had used it in the right way in the proper place.

Shakespeare was not even able to perform a function that we consider today as perfectly normal and ordinary a function as reading itself. He could not, as the saying goes, “look something up.” Indeed the very phrase—when it is used in the sense of “searching for something in a dictionary or encyclopaedia or other book of reference”—simply did not exist. It does not appear in the English language, in fact, until as late as 1692, when an Oxford historian named Anthony Wood used it.

… One might think he would want to look things up all the time. “Am I not consanguineous?” he writes [in Twelfth Night]. A few lines on he talks of “thy doublet of changeable taffeta.” He then declares: “Now is the woodcock near the gin.” Shakespeare’s vocabulary was evidently prodigious: But how could he be certain that in all the cases where he employed unfamiliar words, he was grammatically and factually right? What prevented him, to nudge him forward by a couple of centuries, from becoming an occasional Mr. Malaprop?

The questions are worth posing simply to illustrate what we would now think of as the profound inconvenience of his not once being able to refer to a dictionary.

Simon Winchester

Transcribed by me from pages 80 and 82 of my paperback copy of The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, © 1998, HarperCollins Publishers.

 

Tweet: A phrase we take for granted: Look it up!
Tweet: Shakespeare couldn’t look anything up in the dictionary—it didn’t exist.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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