Is Twitter an editorial learning opportunity?
I’ll start by admitting I’m often careless with my tweets, especially when it comes to spelling. But a couple times in the past few days I’ve had tweets that were a few characters too long. In cutting the thoughts down to the 140-character limit, I didn’t just make them shorter, I also made them better, tighter, more cogent. It occurred to me that those weren’t edits I would have made without an arbitrary limit – that, had they been Facebook posts instead of tweets, I’d just have gone with what I wrote in the first place. So I went back to some passages I’ve been editing in my fiction, places where things felt a little fatty, and set an arbitrary limit of 50 percent. I did a word count on the chunks in question and forced myself to rewrite them in half as many words. It worked every time – I didn’t always get all the way down to half, but I always made them better, and better than I would have if I’d only set out to cut, but without defining what cut means. I’m not making this a blanket prescription – sometimes less is less, not better. But next time you’ve got a passage that feels overstuffed, try setting a target. Pretend it’s a tweet.
The Lost Children Charity Anthology
Fiona Johnson and Thomas Pluck have taken the writing for charity model and ramped it up big time with this kick-ass anthology. I haven’t gotten through the entire collection yet, and plan to do a proper review once I have, but what I’ve read so far is top drawer. All the proceeds go two wonderful organizations working to protect children (PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children and Children 1st Scotland . Looking for a holiday gift for a reader in your life that has a little extra meaning? Try this. You can order it here or go to the Lost Children Charity Anthology blog to learn more.
I doff my hat to Fiona and Tom – I’ve tried to pull an anthology together for my own profit and self-aggrandizement and quit because it was too damn much work, and they did it for the kids – and for nothing. And they did it in record time. And they put out a first-rate product. Them’s good people.
All the Young Warriors by Anthony Neil Smith
Just finished this a couple nights ago – great read, and you can buy it here – but what I wanted to comment on was this. Smith didn’t just write a good story, he found an interesting and troubling situation, something actually going on in the world, and taught me a little about it. I would never have imagined that young Americans of Somali descent were being recruited to fight in Somali for the Islamist groups that are continuing to ravage that benighted chunk of the world so they can turn it into another Sharia wonderland. Fascinating stuff even if it hadn’t been woven into a compelling novel – but when you take fascinating stuff AND weave it into a compelling novel, then you really catch my interest.