Category Archives: Writing

A brief remark on style

While I agree in principle that fiction writers should avoid the passive voice and choose a strong verb in instead of resorting to adverbs, the passive voice and adverbs are functional part of the English language, and I use them when required by the shade of the narrative. I take my example from Evelyn Waugh who, it was said, never wrote a bad sentence. Take this sentence in Decline and Fall (chapter 9 about sports day). There were accusations of cheating:

No one spoke of the race, but outraged sportsmanship glinted perilously in every eye.

Would Waugh’s meaning be the same – have the same force – if one removed ‘perilously’ ? Or what verb could replace the already descriptive ‘glinted’ and convey the same meaning?

Publishing falls to the left

Ideologues Captured the Canadian Publishing Industry

In 2016, when I enrolled in the Master of Publishing program at Simon Fraser University’s Vancouver, B.C. campus, I had expected to find an industry of like-minded professionals who shared my love of the written word. And I did indeed meet many such colleagues. But I also got a glimpse into an industry that has become politicized to an extent that I scarcely could have imagined.

Publishing is not a career one chooses for the money. Nearly all areas of the industry are suffering economically. But since embarking on this course of study, I’ve found myself confronting challenges that have nothing to do with money. Regular Quillette readers will be aware that political and ideological forces have constrained the range of acceptable content in artistically and academically rarified fields such as creative writing (including poetry), media studiesmusic and performance art. What might be less appreciated is the manner by which these same forces are exerting pressure on the more mainstream area of publishing…

Read on…

Enid Blyton: The writer’s 10 finest children’s books

Enid Blyton, the popular children’s writer, died 50 years ago this week.

Astonishingly prolific, the author composed some 700 books between 1922, when she published her poetry collection Child Whispers, and her death in Hampstead on 28 November 1968, often rattling out 6,000 words a day at the typewriter.

She has sold more than 600 million books, which have never gone out of print, been translated into 90 languages and enjoyed a loyal following among young readers for generations, her characters from the Famous Five to Noddy capturing the imagination and inspiring a taste for adventure.

But Blyton has also been heavily criticised. The BBC refused to dramatise her output during her lifetime on the grounds she was a “second-rater”, while she has been derided for the patriarchal assumptions, snobbery and xenophobia evident in her novels and mocked as a conservative relic of a Britain that no longer exists. Read on…

Enid Blyton: 50 years after her death

Enid Blyton and her writing went through a bad period when the left had almost full control of the media. They dismissed her as a untalented purveyor of the West’s oppressive bourgeois capitalist society. It’s gratifying to see in recent times just tribute being paid to one of the greatest of children’s storytellers in English. 

Enid Blyton, the popular children’s writer, died 50 years ago this week.

Astonishingly prolific, the author composed some 700 books between 1922, when she published her poetry collection Child Whispers, and her death in Hampstead on 28 November 1968, often rattling out 6,000 words a day at the typewriter.

She has sold more than 600 million books, which have never gone out of print, been translated into 90 languages and enjoyed a loyal following among young readers for generations, her characters from the Famous Five to Noddy capturing the imagination and inspiring a taste for adventure.  Read on...

Writers are a boring bunch

In today’s Australian, Jack the Insider, entertains with an amusing swipe at those self-adsorbed people who call themselves writers.

I’ve always said I’d never go to writers’ festivals and true to my word, I never have. The mere thought of sitting in a room filled with writers fills me with a deep sense of anguish…

I’ll let you into a little secret. Writers, like actors, are sometimes vaguely interesting, often horrendously boring but always hopelessly, relentlessly self-absorbed. I have seen scribblers lapse into speaking of themselves in the third person, weighing up their remarks with extravagant gravity and no apparent sense of self-consciousness of the arses they are making of themselves.

Perhaps this why the Melbourne Writers Festival turned into a dog-and-pony show this year, featuring a bunch of non-literary mad escapades. Anything to avoid the ugliness of writers talking about themselves.

We’re an odd breed, to be honest. I like the company of people, don’t get me wrong, but I am just as happy on my own. Writing is a solitary affair with long hours strapped to a keyboard. Like most jobs it is often a chore and only occasionally joyful. Even the pleasure of a near perfect paragraph is one that goes unshared at least for the time being.    Read on…