August 24, 2013 |
After Elmore Leonard died this week, his 10 rules of good writing were passed around like a favorite memory at a wake. He called this his most important rule: “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” The word “sounds” there is key, because Leonard was a master of the rhythm, the musicality, of language. Does it sound like something you would actually say? Good. Does it sound like you're showing off? Not so good. A few days later, I came across a list of the “25 Things Editors Need to Remember When Working With Writers.” I agreed with almost all of them, but two are things I absolutely do. And I bet Leonard did too: 13. Suggest that your writers read out loud to themselves.
February 20, 1991 |
Bedtime is the most natural and easiest time for parents to begin to learn how to tell stories to their children, Norma Livo says, although long car trips can be saved by a story "strung out over several hundred miles." "Stories from literature the parent knows or folk tales retold make a good start," she says. "But also tell a story in which the child or children are the main characters.
December 4, 2005
Carefully reading John Pike's article, "The truth about WP" (Opinion, Nov. 30), I concluded that we had indeed burned people to death with white phosphorus, but it was OK because: (1) those were not the people who the Italian press photographed; (2) we used shells, not the bombs prohibited by the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons; (3) we never agreed to that part of the convention anyway; and (4) the Russians did it in Chechnya. I also learned that we consider ourselves well-intentioned but, for whatever reason, much of the world does not. ARTHUR KLIMECK San Pedro Pike claims that the foreign press story about the U.S. using white phosphorus in Fallouja is untrue propaganda.
February 16, 1991
If The Times' sports editor wasn't a Notre Dame grad, I sometimes wonder: 1) If Mike Downey would have written his tear-jerker about Miami being voted national champion over the Irish after the 1990 bowl games. 2) If faithful Bob Oates would have a "Let 'em play" (and not call late-game penalties) feature after Rocket Ismail's 91-yard punt return in the Orange Bowl. 3) If a story about archrival USC and steroids would have appeared three days before letter-of-intent day--and if it might have been more comprehensive by covering more schools.
October 6, 2012 |
The physical requirements for the scene weren't complicated. Bryan Cranston, who plays CIA manager Jack O'Donnell in director Ben Affleck's hostage rescue drama "Argo," had to walk from one office to another, and as laid out in a Los Angeles set late last year, a straight line ran from point A to point B. But before Cranston took a step, Affleck pulled the actor aside and redirected him. Iranian militants had just stormed the U.S. embassy...
January 9, 2011 |
In John Lithgow's one-man show, "Stories by Heart," which opened Wednesday at the Mark Taper Forum, Lithgow stood alone on stage, acting out favorite short stories from his childhood and sharing memories of his father reading to the family. "There's magic in the personal connection between the storyteller and the audience," said Lithgow at a backstage reception following the show. Compared with live storytelling, he said, "TV and movies feel like eavesdropping on the real event.
February 22, 2009 |
HERE'S an unlikely pairing: Susan Hill and H.P. Lovecraft. Hill is a successful mystery writer living in England who also owns a small publishing house. A writer noted for her psychological detective stories -- "The Risk of Darkness," featuring inspector Simon Serrailler, will be published next month -- she seems the model of that writer who has a serene, bookish, rustic life (she and her Shakespeare scholar husband live in the North Cotswold countryside) while her prose is full of violent, unsettled passions and disturbing situations.
May 11, 2012 |
Comedian George Carlin may not have been one for frothy, sentimental displays, but Southern California will be honoring his 75th birthday (which would have been May 12), nonetheless; his daughter, Kelly, is leading the charge. Kelly Carlin's one-woman show, "A Carlin Home Companion," has been selling out at the Santa Monica Playhouse for months, weaving together intimate family photos, video footage of George Carlin performing and personal stories in what's something of a tragicomedy, chronicling what it was like growing up, an only child, in the loving but dysfunctional Carlin home.
May 23, 2010 |
Bruce Knight, a ground surveillance operator with the U.S. Army Airborne Rangers for more than four years, fingers the chain out from under his T-shirt and eight dog tags clatter against his chest. "Maybe I'll write about them," he says, clutching the tags in his hand. Knight wants to write about what went down in Somalia. He wants to write about being shot in the back by a sniper in Panama. He wants to write about what he doesn't discuss with his wife and sons. Tall and broad-shouldered with a perfectly clipped black-and-white haircut, Knight, 42, is an intense, formidable man. "I'll write the truth," he says, cool eyes narrowing, "the way it really was."
January 6, 2008
I enjoyed the stories about Hawaiian Airlines' lousy initial policy of not refunding cancellation fees in death situations. ("Airline descends to a new low: a death fee," Consumer Confidential, Dec. 19, and "After turbulence over death fee, airline flies right," Consumer Confidential, Dec. 21.) Making matters worse, the airline tried to justify it as a necessary business charge. If you had not written of that situation and the resulting outpouring of comments that followed, I don't believe the airline would have acted properly.