Wednesday various

  • I don’t know, there has to be a better way to reform our failing public schools than by firing all the teachers. [via]
  • Is it just me or is having Abe Lincoln say, “I’ve been a slave to vampires for thirty years” sort of in questionable taste? It feels like maybe it’s just me. Still, this is pretty neat as far as book trailers go.
  • I admit it, I got a kick out of Hark! A Vagrant’s Canadian Stereotype Comics.
  • Yes, and this font joke. [via]
  • And finally, I meant to post about this when BBC Audiobooks America did their whole audio book by Twitter thing with Neil Gaiman, way back in October, but I just never got around to it. You can read the whole story here (or you can listen to the audio version here), but even I haven’t done that, and I contributed a line to the darn thing. They’ve apparently since done at least one other such story, with author Meg Cabot, but I’m much more interested in the experiment here than the results. It was fun to participate the day-of, but like Salon’s Laura Miller, I’ve yet to be convinced that the results are particularly readable to outside eyes.

    Raymond Chandler once offered this piece of advice to his fellow writers: “When in doubt, have a man with a gun come into the room.” Yet even the excitement of an armed intruder wears thin by the time you’ve got 30 of them milling around for no apparent reason….At some point, every tale needs to stop expanding so it can begin to contract into a coherent whole. People often ask great storytellers, “Where do you get your ideas?” but the real question is “How do you make sense of your ideas?” [Samuel R.] Delany believed that good writers read so much that they “internalize” certain “literary models” and thereby acquire an instinctual feel for a story’s proper shape. As they build on that evocative first image or scene, while they are still venturing further out into the unknown, an unconscious part of their creative intelligence is figuring out how to knit it all back together again. Writers who never develop that instinct tend to keep dragging new gunmen into the room until the story stalls out, which is why a decent ending is so much harder to write than an enticing beginning. The ability to pull it off is one thing that separates the Neil Gaimans of this world from the rest of us saps.

    Which may just be another way of saying too man cooks — especially untrained cooks — spoil the broth.