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"Say, and then say right."

* If you're looking for a smile for your day, I highly recommend this: Happy People Dancing on Planet Earth. (Thanks to travels_in_time.)

* I've discovered a new blog with excellent book reviews and interviews: Fruitless Recursion: A Journal Devoted To Discussing Works of SF Criticism. You can check it out on LJ as fruit_recursion.

* Norris J. Lacy's fascinating 2008 plenary address to the International Arthurian Society on the epic topic of "Arthurian Texts in Their Historical and Social Context" is now available online here.

Last but not least, a quote for the day (long but well worth it):

If a man has something to say he will manage to say it; if he has nothing to communicate, there is no reason he should have a good style, anymore than why he should have a good purse without any money, or a good scabbard without any sword. For my part I always scorned the very idea of forming a style. Every true man with anything to say has a style of his own, which, for its development, requires only common sense. In the first place he must see that he has said what he means, in the next, that he has not said it so that it may be mistaken for what he does not mean. The mere moving of a word to another place may help to prevent such a mistake. Then he must remove what is superfluous, what is unnecessary or unhelpful to the understanding of his meaning. He must remove whatever obscures or dulls the meaning, and makes it necessary to search for what might have been plainly understood at once. All this implies a combination of writer and critic not often found. Whatever, in a word, seems to the writer himself objectionable, either in regard to sense or sound, he must rigorously removed. He must use no phrase because it sounds fine, and no imagined ornament which does not contribute to the sense or feeling of what he writes.

But, first of all, he ought to make a good aquaintance with grammar, the rarity of which possession is incredible to any but the man who is precise in his logical use of words. There are very few men who can be depended on for writing a sentence grammatically perfect. And, alas! English is scarcely taught in England! I have not time to write on a subject which is not my business, but a means to other ends. The theme is summed in this: A good style is one that not merely says, but conveys what the writer means; and to gain it, a man must continuously endeavor to convey what he means, and never to show himself off. The mere endeavor to gain the reputation of a good writer is contemptible. I would say to anyone whose heart burned within him, write freely what you feel, and then correct rigourously. The truth must give you your material and utterance, and then you must get rid of the faults that would interfere with the entrance of your utterance into the minds of those who may read. The effect after style ought to be but a removal of faults. Say, and then say right.

- George MacDonald from The Art of Authorship, 1891


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 9th, 2008 10:14 pm (UTC)
I love that dance video. It always makes me almost cry, it's such an awesome thing.
Dec. 10th, 2008 03:51 pm (UTC)
Me too!
Dec. 9th, 2008 10:27 pm (UTC)
I think the dancing video and this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr3x_RRJdd4 are two of the most joyful vids ever created.
Dec. 10th, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC)
I love the "Free Hugs" video! You're right: the two together are magical.
Dec. 9th, 2008 11:34 pm (UTC)
Re your quote of the day: the problem with "say, then say right" comes when a writer has been indoctrinated / trained / brainwashed into believing that Saying Right is the only thing that matters. The sufferer frequently chokes up while simply trying to Say in the first place!

There is no such thing as a "former" English major. There are only recovering ones . . .
Dec. 10th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
Awwww! *pats you on the back*
Dec. 10th, 2008 12:00 am (UTC)
Wow, I clearly need to read this piece by MacDonald....
Dec. 10th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
Thought-provoking stuff!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )