This morning, Neil Gaiman pointed me to Stephen Fry on fame. Just one more turn in the mysterious wheels of the Universe, because the essay turns out to be *absolutely* germaine to the tale I'm currently telling. Yes, still with that damn. Dip. Pen.
It's long, rambling, and infinitely entertaining. Every paragraph was a little gem, and there's even some advice in there for writers:
Dan Whatsit and his preposterously awful Leonardo book are actually relevant to our theme. I usually last longer with any best-selling novel, however pathetic, than I did with his. But in his case I knew from the very first word that this was a writer of absolutely zero interest, insight, wit, understanding or ability. A blunderer of monumental incompetence. The first word, can you credit it, is ‘renowned’. ‘Renowned symbologist Henry Titfeather ….’ or something equally drivelling, that’s how this dreadful book opens. How do you begin to explain to someone that you just don’t start a fictional story by telling your readers that your character is ‘renowned’? You show it, you don’t tell it.
Lord Reith, founder of the BBC, legendarily fired off an angry memo to his staff after a broadcast in which someone or other was described as “the famous lawyer”. The memo went like this: ‘The word FAMOUS. If a person is famous it is superfluous to point out the fact, if they are not then it is a lie. The word is not to be used within the BBC.’ Way to tell them, Scottish guy.
One could do worse than to keep this point in mind...
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