The value of nothing: out of nothing comes something -Amy Tan
This week I wanted to share a video that is rather enlightening and I feel may stir up some intriguing discussions. The video is of Amy Tan discussing where creativity hides and how it can be teased out into the open through nature, nurture, and, well, nightmares.
What are your thoughts on Amy’s TED Talk? Where do you feel your creativity resides? What is your creative process?
A couple weeks back I recommended that you check out Beth Hill over at The Editor’s Blog. It turns out she made a video a few years ago on how to edit a book, so I figured I’d share it with you all today. Self-editing is an important skill to learn (albeit not always an easy one), and the advice she gives is good practice. It will save you a lot of time and money when it comes to hiring an editor for your novel down the road. Keep in mind, however, that being a good self-editor does not mean you shouldn’t have someone else read and critique your work. It’s simply one more step on the road to publication. Use it to your advantage.
Today is the last day of the 1st Sarcastic Muse “Summit” and I am about to jump on a plane back to a frigid Pennsylvania. I am working on a post for next week about the fantastic phenomenon of having close writer friends. For this week, I would like to share a video of Joyce Care Oates on developing characters and the importance of allowing your characters to speak for themselves.
I once wrote a post suggesting that writers should think of their writing as music, but what happens when someone takes this seriously? What would happen if we actually sounded out punctuation marks when we spoke, for instance? Well . . . we would then be using what Victor Borge aptly calls phonetic punctuation. Though he approaches the idea with humor, it’s worth noting that, in addition to being a comedian, Mr. Borge was also a conductor and a pianist. It’s probably fair to say that he understood punctuation in ways many writers do not.
Punctuation is a tricky thing. All those marks decorating the page, silent and unavoidable in our writing. Yet, those marks — which have no actual phonetic transcription, no sound (minus Victor Borge’s interpretation) — are the rhythmic backbones of words. How is that?
When you use punctuation in your stories, you are transcribing beats — pauses — that enhance and maintain the rhythm of your prose. But if you think of it from the standpoint of sound, as he does in the video, perhaps it may change your perspective. If you think of letters and words as the carriers of sound and meaning, then punctuation marks are the bridges, the ropes stringing them together.
Punctuation is a tool, and though it’s relatively easy to use within the given rules of a language, it’s still one of the most difficult tools in the writer’s arsenal to master. You have to learn to hear it the same way you hear letters and words: every pause, every stop, every small inhalation. That’s what gives your writing a pulse.
Alas, since I’ve got 10,000 more words to write for my thesis by the middle of December, all writing effort is going to it at the moment, which is the primary reason why there will be no editing post this week. However, so as not to leave you all empty-handed, I’ll share this amusing, yet linguistically thought-provoking video of phonetic punctuation. Enjoy!
How do you hear punctuation marks in your writing?