June 23, 2010

The Thin Line Between Understatement and a Haymaker

Which is worse for a writer? Heavy-handed, punch-to-the-face argument? Or restraint to the extent that readers confuse it for disinterest and emotional vacuum? I'm not sure.

I think most writers are drilled so hard to avoid the didactic, we sometimes forget to speak. Most writing these days, whether on the back of a cereal box or on the internet, is indeed like a haymaker to the face.

There is a happy medium, moderation. And that's the aim for my final draft.

Understatement, reticence can be a marvel of coiled emotional power. Or it can bounce off the reader's psyche like a stone skipping along the water's surface. Understatement is a challenge for even masterful writers.

June 21, 2010

How to Write a Review

The pending publication of a book can conjure up nightmare scenarios for even the most sagacious and swaggering writer. What if my favorite reviewer/critic slices and dices my favorite excerpt? What will the The New York Times think? What if my reviewers write poorly but everyone accepts their scrawl as axiom?

Personally, I love film review as a genre. And I love film, of course. I love music and music criticism. Soundtracks have always enthralled me; Filmtracks is my favorite website for the skinny on what's good, new and old. The reviewers, in my estimation, use a sledgehammer to bash bad scores when necessary, but they can scribe lush eulogies, too.

Negative reviews can be downright hilarious, when they are intelligent--like this one of the Iron Man score.

Biographers and other writers can only hope to inspire such critical knifework when the great American biography turns out to be the literary equivalent of Hans Zimmer derivative fluff.