A NEW YEAR, A NEW BLOG, A NEW BOOK!

You may have wondered why I let my blog slip in recent months. The answer is the best one possible, for me, at least. I’ve been busy writing a new book.

This was a major surprise to me. Whenever friends, or interviewers, asked me if I had another book up my sleeve I would answer honestly, saying ,”Look, Stories About Storytellers is about my forty years in publishing,I don’t think I’ll live long enough to come up with material for another book So no, I don’t think I’ll ever write another book.”

But then, to promote that book I turned the book into a one-man stage show, and decided to see where it would go. It went everywhere. And roaming the country from this Festival to that University, to this neat bookstore or that Library , with Jane as my “lovely and talented assistant”,  we came across dozens of stories. Too good not to share. Enough for a book.

So, in September 2015 our friends at ECW Press will bring out ACROSS CANADA BY STORY: A Coast-to-Coast Literary Adventure.

It will remind you of my first book, because I’ve persuaded Anthony Jenkins to enrich it with his caricatures, once again. This time there are no fewer than 30 of his superb drawings, of our major authors. With this book I’ve widened my range beyond just those authors that I edited, to include major figures like Margaret Atwood, Marshall McLuhan, Guy Vanderhaeghe, Carol Shields, Michael Ondaatje, and dozens of others.

As a Literary Tour the book will take you from Newfoundland to Haida Gwaii, and from Moose Jaw to Grand Manan, as we visit all ten provinces. It will set your feet itching to travel ,as I recall exciting events we enjoyed roaming around cities, small towns, mountains and islands . And as the books and authors spill out in the stories you’ll find that you’ll be tempted to read — or to re-read — dozens of our best books.

You heard it here first.

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Editing Tips from Douglas Gibson (#28)

In this recurring feature, we’re sharing tips for editors from the desk of Douglas Gibson. Good for those starting out or old hands who need a reminder, these guidelines form an engaging guide for sharp-eyed wordsmiths.

Tip #28

A good editor should remove clichés. Yet all too often the clichés hide in plain sight, the adjective-noun combinations so accepted by the reader’s eye and mind that they become almost a single-word notion.

What “fiasco” is not “total”? When is an “inferno” not described as “raging”? When is a “defeat” not “ignominious”? When is “ado” not preceded by “further”?

A good test for the editor is to supply the adjective (“Ignominious . . . hmm”) and see what noun springs to mind. If the answer is automatic, we have a cliché to be avoided.

Editing Tips from Douglas Gibson (#27)

In this recurring feature, we’re sharing tips for editors from the desk of Douglas Gibson. Good for those starting out or old hands who need a reminder, these guidelines form an engaging guide for sharp-eyed wordsmiths.

Tip #27

A tip for all writers is to avoid the use of the word “there.” If it’s used as a noun to denote location (“When we got there, we stopped.”), it’s fine.
But as soon as it enters the narrative as an adverb with the chilling words “There is” or “There are,” it serves to encourage sloppy, boring writing, usually full of static nouns, and reminding the reader of a government report.

Instead of “There are many examples . . .” try “Examples abound . . .” or “Many examples show . . .”

Editors should hunt down these “there”s, and writers should avoid them.

Editing Tips from Douglas Gibson (#24)

In this recurring feature, we’re sharing tips for editors from the desk of Douglas Gibson. Good for those starting out or old hands who need a reminder, these reminders form an engaging guide for sharp-eyed wordsmiths.

Tip #24
Any time an editor sees the word “literally,” sirens should sound and red lights begin to flash. For “literally” is used wrongly most of the time, by most people. “I literally died of embarrassment” is not an extreme example. Every month you will read, and hear, dozens of such mistaken uses, serving to deprive the world of a useful word that says, “And I really mean this, it is the factual truth.” Dozens of examples. Literally.

Editing Tips from Douglas Gibson (#22)

In this recurring feature, we’re sharing tips for editors from the desk of Douglas Gibson. Good for those starting out or old hands who need a reminder, these guidelines form an engaging guide for sharp-eyed wordsmiths.

Tip #22
Recently I came across a carefully printed sign in the well-known educational establishment OISE.  It invited patrons who had used its services to pass along comments, including “criticisms” and “complements.” My comments were not complimentary.

Should this sort of spelling error matter? My response is that this was not a scrawled sign in a small-time grocery (“Cabages”), but a designed, carefully printed sign that had gone through several stages of checking by educated professionals. The resulting error reflected badly on them, and thus on OISE. I’m certain that you don’t have to be a professional editor to have this reaction. Spelling still matters to a large proportion of readers, which means that it still matters.

Editing Tips from Douglas Gibson (#21)

In this recurring feature, we’re sharing tips for editors from the desk of Douglas Gibson. Good for those starting out or old hands who need a reminder, these guidelines form an engaging guide for sharp-eyed wordsmiths.

Tip #21
One of the many hats that a book editor should wear is that of Title-spotter. Sometimes a manuscript with a bland, khaki title will reveal a blazing, technicolour title in its pages, one that will bring the book major attention. One example. Harry J. Boyle wrote a novel named “I Am Shane Donovan” about a successful Toronto advertising man who wanted to quit his job in order to write “The Great Canadian Novel.” Guess what we called the book.

Editing Tips from Douglas Gibson (#20)

In this recurring feature, we’re sharing tips for editors from the desk of Douglas Gibson. Good for those starting out or old hands who need a reminder, these guidelines form an engaging guide for sharp-eyed wordsmiths.

Tip #20
Make sure that lists are in a consistent form. All too often we find published lists that provide, for example, a list of aims as follows:
“ a. to entertain
b. to instruct
c. to inform
d. guidance
e to provide a model.”
Clearly, this is a very sloppy form of guidance, but a keen-eyed editor will find inconsistent listing everywhere. It’s almost as worrying as spotting a listing ship.