Some Screenwriters Turn to Children’s Books

For some Hollywood screenwriters, an unlikely diversion: children’s books | csmonitor.com

Following an earlier report that some striking Hollywood screenwriters are using their off time to work on novels, here’s a follow-up: Some striking screenwriters for children’s shows are funneling their creative ideas into children’s books that will be published later this year.

But don’t think that a children’s book is something writers can just toss off in their spare time:

Writing for kids is tough, says Jerry Griswold, director of the National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature in San Diego, Calif. It took Maurice Sendak 8 years to draft the 300-word classic “Where the Wild Things Are.”

Hollywood writers turn to Plan B: the novel

Hollywood writers turn to Plan B: the novel – Los Angeles Times

In case you’re wondering what screenwriters are doing with all their free time during the strike, the Los Angeles Times reports that some of them are working on their novels. One agent points out that, because scripts and novels require very different types of writing, success as a screenwriter does not necessarily guarantee success as a novelist. Still, if they can sell the movie rights to their books. . . (after the strike ends, of course).

Why Sci-Fi Is the Last Bastion of Philosophical Writing

Clive Thompson on Why Sci-Fi Is the Last Bastion of Philosophical Writing

If you want to read books that tackle profound philosophical questions, then the best — and perhaps only — place to turn these days is sci-fi. Science fiction is the last great literature of ideas.

In this short article in Wired magazine Clive Thompson expounds on thoughts sparked by the novella After the Siege by Cory Doctorow. According to Thompson, literary fiction has dropped the ball in terms of dealing with great ideas because “there are, at the risk of sounding superweird, only so many ways to describe reality.” Eventually, he says, he found himself reading essentially the same book over and over again.

This conclusion comes from a certain assumption about the nature of fiction. Thompson says that writing literary fiction is like running a simulation such as The Sims a number of times: “eventually you’re going to explore almost every outcome.” This is, of course, a notion that most serious readers and writers cannot take seriously. From writers’ perspective, a novel presents the author’s particular view of reality. From readers’ perspective, even those who do not consciously think of reading as a transactional process know that something special happens when a particular reader encounters a particular text.

Thompson says that thought experiments–works in which authors ask “What if. . . ” questions–have been the foundation of Western thought since ancient times. His contention is that science fiction is now the main branch of literature dealing meaningfully with such questions.

So, then, why does sci-fi, the inheritor of this intellectual tradition, get short shrift among serious adult readers? Probably because the genre tolerates execrable prose stylists. Plus, many of sci-fi’s most famous authors — like Robert Heinlein and Philip K. Dick — have positively deranged notions about the inner lives of women.

But, Thompson says, many mainstream authors are producing “genre-bending” novels that incorporate traditional science fiction elements. Among these authors are Cormac McCarthy, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem, and Margaret Atwood, whom Thompson calls “a sci-fi novelist trapped inside a literary author.”

Read Thompson’s article, and be sure to read the comments posted underneath it. So far, the comments cover a wide range of responses, both for and against, Thompson’s claim.

’Diaries’ author helps teens put private thoughts to paper

’Diaries’ author helps Hub teens put private thoughts to paper – BostonHerald.com

We’ve already missed the event, but the thought is still commendable. Writer Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries, held, by phone, a journal-writing workshop for teenagers this afternoon at the Boston Public Library. Cabot says that much of the basic material in her books came from her own journals. She also warns teenagers to beware how much sensitive personal information they put in a blog or other online journal. She also stresses the necessity of using proper grammar and writing etiquette when posting online:

“People do judge, especially with e-mailing and when you post on message boards. If you want your post to be read or taken seriously, you have to spell and write correctly,” she said.