## Writing Preflight Checklist _Things to think about before publishing._ --- ## Is this necessary? _Every word on the page distracts from every other word._ --- ## One simplify would have sufficed. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson --- ## Delete all the adjectives. ## Delete all the adverbs. --- ## Replace your “ands” with “buts” or “therefores.” -- Trey Parker --- ## Do I like this line too much? > I think craft is a dangerous thing. I saw a trailer for a movie.... And it was gorgeous, it was… gorgeous. And it made me really depressed, and I was trying to figure out why. > > I think there was an amazing amount of craft and skill on the part of the filmmakers in this movie. And yet it was the same shit. I know that this movie is going to do really well, and I know that the people who made it are going to get rewarded for it, and so the cycle continues. So I think the danger of craft is that it needs to be in second position to what it is that you’re doing. > > It’s seductive to put it in first position, often because what you’re doing is meaningless or worthless, or just more of the same. So you can distinguish yourself by being very, very good at it. I think you need to be willing to be naked when you do anything creatively in film or any other form, that’s really what you have to do because otherwise it’s very hard to separate it from marketing. -- [Charlie Kaufman](https://kortina.nyc/essays/charlie-kaufman-bafta-speech/) --- ### THE AUDIENCE WILL NOT TUNE IN TO WATCH INFORMATION. YOU WOULDN’T, I WOULDN’T. NO ONE WOULD OR WILL. THE AUDIENCE WILL ONLY TUNE IN AND STAY TUNED TO WATCH DRAMA. -- [David Mamet](https://www.slashfilm.com/a-letter-from-david-mamet-to-the-writers-of-the-unit/) --- ## Dramatic Irony (Suspense) is Crucial Consider this quote from Hitchcock in in an essay on Tarantino's use of 'the pledge' and suspenseful dialogue: > The essential fact is to get real suspense, you must let the audience have information. Now let's take the old-fashioned bomb theory. You and I are sitting talking we'll say about baseball. We're talking for five minutes sadly a bomb goes off and the audience have a ten-second terrible shock. Now let's take the same situation. Tell the audience at the beginning that under the table I'll show it to them there's a bomb and it's gonna go off in five minutes, and we talk baseball. What are the audience doing? They're saying "don't talk about baseball, there's a bomb under there!" Now giving the audience the _correct amount of information_ and turning that scene into a suspenseful one. --- ## Is this ironic? > So then how have irony, irreverence, and rebellion come to be not liberating but enfeebling in the culture today's avant-garde tries to write about? One clue's to be found in the fact that irony is still around, bigger than ever after thirty long years as the dominant mode of hip expression. It's not a mode that wears especially well. As Hyde puts it, "Irony has only emergency use. Carried over time, it is the voice of the trapped who have come to enjoy their cage." This is because irony, entertaining as it is, serves an exclusively negative function. It's critical and destructive, a ground-clearing. Surely this is the way our postmodern fathers saw it. But irony's singularly unuseful when it comes to constructing anything to replace the hypocrisies it debunks. This is why Hyde seems right about persistent irony being tiresome. It is unmeaty. Even gifted ironists work best in sound bites. I find them sort of wickedly fun to listen to at parties, but I always walk away feeling like I've had several radical surgical procedures. And as for actually driving cross-country with a gifted ironist, or sitting through a 300-page novel full of nothing but trendy sardonic exhaustion, one ends up feeling not only empty but somehow ... oppressed. -- [David Foster Wallace](https://www.thefreelibrary.com/E+unibus+pluram:+television+and+U.S.+fiction.-a013952319) --- ## Is this honest? > > People are starving. They may not know it because they’re being fed mass produced garbage. The packaging is colourful and loud, but it’s produced in the same factories that make Pop Tarts and iPads, by people sitting around thinking, ‘What can we do to get people to buy more of these?’ > > > > And they’re very good at their jobs. But that’s what it is you’re getting, because that’s what they’re making. They’re selling you something. And the world is built on this now. Politics and government are built on this, corporations are built on this. Interpersonal relationships are built on this. And we’re starving, all of us, and we’re killing each other, and we’re hating each other, and we’re calling each other liars and evil because it’s all become marketing and we want to win because we’re lonely and empty and scared and we’re led to believe winning will change all that. But there is no winning. > > > > What can be done? Say who you are, really say it in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there who is lost, someone not yet born, someone who won’t be born for 500 years. Your writing will be a record of your time. It can’t help but be that. But more importantly, if you’re honest about who you are, you’ll help that person be less lonely in their world because that person will recognise him or herself in you and that will give them hope. It’s done so for me and I have to keep rediscovering it. It has profound importance in my life. Give that to the world, rather than selling something to the world. Don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work and that in the end selling is what everyone must do. Try not to. -- [Charlie Kaufman](https://kortina.nyc/essays/charlie-kaufman-bafta-speech/) --- ## Can I cut the word count in half? --- ## Some Recs [The Elements of Style](https://www.amazon.com/Elements-Style-Fourth-William-Strunk/dp/0881030686) - Strunk & White [On Writing Well](https://www.amazon.com/Writing-Well-Classic-Guide-Nonfiction/dp/0060891548) - Zinsser [The Art of the Personal Essay](https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VgxidNWaioApKo88y_CSRVrSCxYEEr30se7Guw-O-3c/edit) - Lopate [The Art of Fiction](https://www.amazon.com/Paris-Review-Interviews-Vols-1-4/dp/0312429169) - Paris Review Interviews (eg, [Hemingway](https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4825/ernest-hemingway-the-art-of-fiction-no-21-ernest-hemingway)) --- Thank you.