IVP - Andy Unedited

August 3, 2017

What Writers Most Need to Know

I recently asked my editing, writer, and reader friends, "What do you most wish editors would tell writers (and that writers would take to heart) about writing?" I thought the answers were worthwhile and illuminating. Here are some of the responses I received:

"Many years ago one of my favorite editors encouraged me to find my own voice as I developed a writing career. No need to imitate the style, vocabulary, etc of others. It was very freeing advice."
"I love notebook and pen 3.jpgBetty Flowers's four stages of writing and tell my writing friends about it a lot. It's great especially for editor types with highly developed critical faculties who are paralyzed by their own knowledge when doing their own writing (they jump to stage four too fast). Madman/woman, architect, carpenter, judge. Here it is: www.ut-ie.com/b/b_flowers.html"
"1. Write the way you talk. People who read my books frequently say that they can hear my voice as they read. 2. Teach only what you've lived. Having lived it determines the livability of your ideas."
"Know your audience."
"What does your audience want to hear about your work and what do they need to hear and can you incrementally permeate the writing, taking them where they appreciate going, and imagining that they knew this all along and love it that you helped them better understand the subject? And secondly not to add a second thing or use run-on sentences."
"In an interview, Ernest Hemingway, when asked to identify the characteristics of great writing, is reported to have offered, 'In order to be a great writer a person must have a built-in, shockproof crap detector.' (I discovered this wisdom via Neil Postman, Teaching As a Subversive Activity.)"
"Less is more. Understatement is powerful. Oh, and don't be afraid to be funny."
"Conservation of verbiage. Say it once, say it well . . . say it in a way that people will remember and want to quote. If it's not memorable or advancing your story or thesis, cut it out; it's superfluous."
"Get rid of most of your adjectives."
"For most non-fiction writing, structure is the author's friend! Nothing is more difficult for an editor than having to wrestle with a disorganized mass of prose and trying to help the author find some semblance of the inherent structure within."
"Proofread laptop mouse 2.jpgand proofread out loud. If it sounds wrong to your ear, then it probably is, or at least you could (most of the time) write it better without changing the meaning."
"Please write multiple drafts before turning it in. I promise, rewriting helps."

One friend, however, was a bit sour (or should we say realistic?) about the whole enterprise:

"Unless you really know you are a brilliant author - don't write. The bookshops are full of boring - both in terms of the English language and in terms of truth - biblically, theologically, philosophically."

I also heard slightly different opinions about editors. One wrote:

"Don't feel obliged to take an editor's word for something. In my experience (10 books & 700+ articles/chapters/reviews), editors collectively have batted about .500. The really good ones? About .750. None were infallible, just as I am not. So I'm grateful for editors, but also willing to engage them in friendly discussion-cum-argument, and I encourage other authors to do so. (And I gave this advice to authors in the four books of essays I've edited, too--just for the record . . . )"

On the other hand, a couple others said:

"Everyone needs a good editor."
"I wish writers wouldn't be afraid of the editing process. A good editor is there to help and enhance and clarify--to make the writer look good and make the work . . . work! So many writers confessed to me afterward that they had been nervous about it beforehand. In all my years, I only ever had ONE unhappy writer--and she was a megalomaniac and possibly mentally ill! Most writers get happy about their edited work."

So what is the best advice you'd give about writing?

Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:21 AM | Comments

July 26, 2017

Union Made

Do leaders make the church or do the people?

The story goes that a small group of radical, white, male leaders created social Christianity, supported by the middle classes. Heath Carter's account of Chicago, labor and the churches offers a different tale.

Continue reading "Union Made"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:08 AM | Comments

July 11, 2017

The Penultimate Curiosity

Are science and religion enemies, each seeking supremacy over the other? Or do they simply look at the same thing from different, perhaps complementary, perspectives? In The Penultimate Curiosity, Wagner and Briggs propose a very different relationship than either of these options.

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Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:06 AM | Comments

June 20, 2017

Does Character Matter?

Does character matter?

Weaving wisdom and insight with the life stories of fascinating people, in The Road to Character, David Brooks offers a much needed book. Each chapter focuses on a different person and theme. Through the lives of people like Frances Perkins, Dwight Eisenhower, Dorothy Day, George Marshall, A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans), Augustine, Samuel Johnson and Montaigne, we consider dignity, struggle, self-mastery, love, self-examination and more.

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Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:31 AM | Comments

May 31, 2017

Paul's New Perspective

Those who walk down the middle of the road, it is said, are likely to get run over by both sides. That is where Garwood Anderson has chosen to daringly place himself in his Paul's New Perspective. In the current debate on justification between those who hold to the Traditional Protestant Perspective (TPP) and the New Perspective on Paul (NPP), Anderson charts a third way.

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Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:46 AM | Comments

May 24, 2017

Cracking the Writer's Block 4: Life Issues

Ron Brackin tells us, "Writers block occurs when a writer has nothing to say. Unfortunately not all writers experience it."

But you are not like that. No, no, no. Obviously, you have something to say, even if you are not quite sure at the moment what that is. So how do you get unstuck?

Continue reading "Cracking the Writer's Block 4: Life Issues"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:28 AM | Comments

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Get to Know IVP

book cover"Some publishers tell you what to believe. Other publishers tell you what you already believe. But InterVarsity Press helps you believe," says J. I. Packer. Andy Le Peau and Linda Doll describe how this came to be a hallmark of InterVarsity Press in Heart. Soul. Mind. Strength, an anecdotal history spanning the sixty years from the founding of IVP in 1947 to the present day.