Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Nabokov-Leonard throwdown — W, or the Memory of the 19th Century

From the TLS (5/2/08):

Nabokov once told an interviewer that the thing he checked in a book was how much dialogue there was, and that if this looked "too abundant or too sustained" he shut the volume "with a bang". —Martin Schifno, review of Céline Curiol's Voice Over

From the NYT (7/16/01):

[Rule] 10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

A rule that came to mind in 1983. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he's writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character's head, and the reader either knows what the guy's thinking or doesn't care. I'll bet you don't skip dialogue.

—Elmore Leonard, "Writers on Writing: Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points, and Especially the Hooptedoodle"

* * *

Via MUG: A story in which every word begins with...W! (Surely this is not some anonymous 19th-century creation, but a contemporary jeu d'esprit?)

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