Boring (2)

I interrupted the discussion of fiction craftsmanship to post my diatribe about guns. Let’s get back to it.

The differences between the sets of rules for journalistic writing and literary fiction are minuscule. I suspect that most readers don’t notice the dissimilarity. Examples: literary editing requires no space before and after an em dash (—) whereas journalism requires a single space; literary adds a comma after the last of a series (e.g., buttons, bows, ribbons, and shoelaces), but journalism does not (e.g., buttons, bows, ribbons and shoelaces).

My presentation goes through the following sections: (1) source materials (dictionaries, thesauruses, encyclopedias, atlases, The Chicago Manual of Style, and other recommended volumes); (2) levels of craftsmanship (formatting, copy editing, structure/wording, and dialogue); and (3) “finishing touches” (letting the manuscript cool before returning for revision, spell checking, reading the text aloud, etc.). It takes the better part of an hour to grind through all this trivia which serious writers must absorb.

The fiction craftsmanship presentation is not as popular as my other talks—I’ve given my fall of Saigon presentation with slides telling of my escape under fire over a hundred times since my story was declassified less than twenty years ago. I continue to do the fiction craftsmanship presentation as a service to beginning writers who let me know years later how valuable it was. That, it seems to me, is the least I can do.

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