The Princess Bride: Avoid Boredom

I’ve been watching The Princess Bride as a film since I was four or five years old, but I only just read the book. This is a wacky novel for several reasons. First, it’s by William Goldman, who is also a screenwriter of considerable fame, but he claims it is only his annotation of a book by S. Morgenstern of Florin (a fictional country somewhere near Scandinavia). Goldman’s introduction is full of personal anecdotes, such as how his father–a Florin immigrant–read this story aloud to him as a child, and peppered with truth, such as the fact that he wrote a thriller called Marathon Man and wrote the screenplay for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. This very fine line between fact and fiction is super-interesting and something that is always mentioned when talking about this book, but it’s not what caught my attention the most. Continue reading

The Jane Smiley Pyramid

I survived the AWP Conference last weekend, and now I’m here to share all I learned with the world. One of the panels I went to featured Jane Smiley, and as you might expect from a Pulitzer-Prize-winning author, she had some useful things to say.

Speaking on the elements on fiction, Jane Smiley broke them down into a triangle that I find very useful both for writing and also for discussing writing. It’s a hierarchy of story-needs:

Continue reading