Write Now with Scrivener, Episode no. 11: Charles Shields, Biographer

Charles Shields is a biographer of mid-century American novelists and writers. After a career teaching, and writing histories and biographies for young people, Shields has written several biographies of American authors, the most recent of which is about playwright Lorraine Hansberry, author of Raisin in the Sun.

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Write Now with Scrivener, Episode no. 10: Annie Finch, Poet, Writer, and Witch

Annie Finch is a poet, writer, critic, editor, playwright, librettist, translator, and witch. She has written poetry, criticism, memoirs, and works on meter and form, and is the founder of Poetry Witch Community, where she teaches meter, scansion, and magic.

Learn more about Scrivener, and check out the ebook Take Control of Scrivener.

If you like the podcast, please follow it in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast app. Leave a rating or review, and tell your friends. And check out past episodes of Write Now with Scrivener.

Write Now with Scrivener, Episode no. 9: Charlie Stross, Science-Fiction Author

Charlie Stross is a prolific author of science fiction and fantasy. He has written more than two dozen novels, has won three Hugo awards, and has been nominated for many other awards, including the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the Japanese Seiun Award.

Show notes:

Learn more about Scrivener, and check out the ebook Take Control of Scrivener.

If you like the podcast, please follow it in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast app. Leave a rating or review, and tell your friends. And check out past episodes of Write Now with Scrivener.

Books I Read in 2021

I’ve never before kept a list of books I read. I read a lot, but I don’t generally want to keep score. I know a lot of people do this on sites like Goodreads, but I’ve never felt it was useful. However, at the beginning of the year, seeing some articles about what people read last year, I decided that, out of curiosity, I would keep a list.

As I said, I read a lot. I’m not a big television or movie watcher; many people have a reflex to watch TV every evening, but in my household, that’s not the case. My partner is also an avid reader, though we read different types of books. We follow a few TV series, watch the occasional movie, but I let my Netflix subscription lapse often because there’s nothing that interests us.

So I guess it’s not surprising that I read more than 130 books last year. I read fairly quickly, and some of them – mostly mysteries and thrillers – were books I read in a single evening, or two at most. Some of the books were fairly short, but others were quite long. And I left a few books in the list that I abandoned after about one quarter of their length, just as notes to remind me that I didn’t finish them; these are indicated by asterisks after titles. Books with asterisks before the titles are books that I started in 2020, and only finished in 2021. I often read multiple books concurrently, so there are a few in the 2021 list that I haven’t finished, but, if I keep a list in 2022, I’ll indicate that. I only started the last book on the list on December 31, so I haven’t gotten for, but I’ll include it anyway.

You’ll notice 16 books in French; I lived in France for nearly three decades, so read in French regularly, but mostly classical literature. Many of these French books are long, and I read a bit less quickly in French than in English. One of my goals for 2022 is to read more in French, notable more Balzac, Dumas, and other 19th century authors that I particularly like.

About half my reads were non-fiction, though I haven’t included cookbooks or some books I’ve read for my work. And this also doesn’t count a few dozen photobooks that “read” or “re-read,” since I don’t really count them as reading. Though perhaps if I keep a list next year, I will include them…

If I’d had more time, I’d include Amazon affiliate links for anyone who wants to contribute to my ongoing book habit. Since I’m not including individual links, if you go to your local Amazon with these links (if you shop from one of these three countries), I’ll get a small percentage: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon FR.

So, here’s the list:

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How Many Different Types of Plots Are There?

Some say there are 6, 36, or 1,462 plots for stories, novels and screenplays. How many are there? Does it matter?

There has been much discussion over the years as to how many different types of plots, stories, or dramatic situations exist. While writers of fiction and screenplays may not want to plan their novels according to these templates, it’s a good idea to keep them in mind. Are there six, 36, or 1,462 different types of plots? Can you structure a story using a template?

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To learn how to use Scrivener for Mac, Windows, and iOS, check out my book Take Control of Scrivener 3.

Write Now with Scrivener, Episode no. 7: Maggie Shipstead, Booker Shortlisted Author of Great Circle

Maggie Shipstead’s latest novel has been shortlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize. Great Circle is a novel of love and loss and adventure, focusing on a woman pilot in the early days of flying, and an actress portraying her in the present.

Show notes:

Learn more about Scrivener, and check out the ebook Take Control of Scrivener.

If you like the podcast, please follow it in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast app. Leave a rating or review, and tell your friends. And check out past episodes of Write Now with Scrivener.

Write Now with Scrivener, Episode No. 4: Annik Lafarge, Author of Chasing Chopin

After a career in publishing, from being a publicist to senior editor, Annik Lafarge is now a consultant and advisor to authors. Her latest book is Chasing Chopin: A Musical Journey Across Three Centuries, Four Countries, and a Half-Dozen Revolutions. Annik talks about how important it is for authors to help market their books.

“I honestly don’t think I could have written this book without without Scrivener.”

Read more on the Scrivener Blog.

Learn more about Scrivener, and check out the ebook Take Control of Scrivener.

If you like the podcast, please follow it in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast app. Leave a rating or review, and tell your friends. And check out past episodes of Write Now with Scrivener.

Write Now with Scrivener Podcast, Episode No. 3: J.T. Ellison, Thriller Author

J.T. Ellison has written more than 25 novels: standalone thrillers, three series, and has recently published the first in a series of co-authored young adult novels. She co-hosts a literary TV show, and is also a publisher. She also “loves Scrivener with the passion of a thousand fiery suns.”

Show notes:

Learn more about Scrivener, and check out the ebook Take Control of Scrivener.

If you like the podcast, please follow it in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast app. Leave a rating or review, and tell your friends. And check out past episodes of Write Now with Scrivener.

Happy 150th Birthday Marcel Proust

IMG 1862Today is the 150th anniversary of the birth of French author Marcel Proust, and, as such, I’ve just started my fifth reading of his seven-volume novel A la recherche du temps perdu. Known in English as either Remembrance of Things Past or In Search of Lost Time,

Even those who haven’t read the novel may have heard about the incident when the narrator dips a madeleine – a small cake – into a cup of tea, and takes a bite, these flavors unlocking a torrent of memories from his childhood. Memory and time are the two threads that flow constantly through the novel, and Samuel Beckett said, in his 1931 essay about the work, that the “entire book is a monument to involuntary memory and the epic of its action.”

You read Proust because it’s a literary Everest, but you fall in love with the novel because of the depth of its characters, and the way Proust makes you see the world through his eyes. You may have heard that it’s hard to read Proust: the novel is seven volumes long, and there are sentences that stretch on for hundreds of words. But it’s not hard, you just have to adapt to his style. The key that unlocked it for me was when I listened to an audiobook version of the novel in French, and realized that Proust’s writing is just the spoken word on the page. Once you understand that, you appreciate the cadences of his writing.

I first read La recherche in the early 1980s, when Terrence Killmartin’s revision of Scott Montcrieff translation was released in three huge volumes. I read it while commuting from Queens to Manhattan, perhaps 20 or 30 pages a day. When I moved to France in 1984 – initially to spend a year, but eventually staying in the country nearly three decades – I was optimistic. The very first book I bought was the compact, three-volume, leather-bound, bible-paper Pléiade edition of the novel. It took me a few years to get through the book – Proust used a vocabulary of more than 18,000 words in his novel – but after that, I was hooked.

Since then, I’ve read it every ten years or so, including once listening to a 128-hour audiobook recording in French. And so I embark, once again, on this journey.

In English, you have two choices. The Montcrieff/Kilmartin translation, titled Remembrance of Things Past. While not a literal translation of the title, Montcrieff took a line from a Shakespeare sonnet, feeling it was more poetic. This translation is arguably a bit old-fashioned, and doesn’t benefit from an updated edition of the French text published in the late 1980s, partly so the publisher, Gallimand, could retain copyright when the work was going into the public domain, but also to add a number of texts that had been discovered in the 1980s, including manuscript corrections that Proust made shortly before his death, but which had never been included in the work before.

The other option is the Penguin translation, completed in 2002, where each volume is rendered by a different translator. While this is a quick way to get this done, it does create inconsistencies. Titled In Search of Lost Time, this translation does contain the found texts of the newer French edition, and also takes into account the many corrections added to the 1987 Pléiade update.

And, to complicate things, there is even a revised version of the revision of Montrcieff’s translation, published by Modern Library, adopting the In Search of Lost Time title.

There are pros and cons to each translation, and I’ll put links below to articles about each of them, as well as a link to articles I’ve written about Proust on my website.

No matter which one you choose, should you wish to embark on this journey, you’ll discover one of the richest novels ever written, one that may be with you for the rest of your life.

Write Now with Scrivener, Episode No. 2: Dan Moren, Science Fiction Author, Journalist, and Podcaster

Dan Moren juggles a triple career: that of a science fiction author, tech journalist, and podcaster. He discusses his the “sci-fi espionage capers” he writes, how he transitioned from journalism to fiction, and how he has used Scrivener to write each of his novels.

Read more on the Scrivener Blog.

Learn more about Scrivener, and check out the ebook Take Control of Scrivener.

If you like the podcast, please follow it in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast app. Leave a rating or review, and tell your friends. And check out past episodes of Write Now with Scrivener.