Graeme

Writer's Blog

A place where I write about the writing life and writing projects in progress
 

October 28, 2010

  • Learn How To Write The WIRED Way
  • imageI love Wired. It’s my favourite magazine that doesn’t isn’t solely devoted to Doctor Who. I never considered myself to be all that interested in tech stuff, but I adore this magazine. I look forward to Wired coming out on the stands as a monthly event. Some months the yearning for it is so hard I buy Fast Company to tide me over.

    I love Wired for its culture snacking value, the heady mix of postmodern futurism and pragmatism, the trippy layout, the diversity of material, the monthly “What’s Inside” explanation of what goes into a product, and the infographics that are as intense as cocaine hits. But mostly, what I love about Wired is the writing. The people who work on this magazine are like the writers of Rolling Stone back in its heyday: people at the top of their game, who get to the heart of the issue with crisp, driving prose. And, like Rolling Stone in its heyday, they have the best leads for their articles. I mean, it’s hard to miss them, since they’re usually in 20 point type, but they’re written so well you keep reading.

    Here are a few samples of the lead paragraphs from the latest issue (18.11 - October 2010):

    From Michael Kaplan’s “The Big Score”:

    It’s a sweltering August evening in Las Vegas, but i’s cool inside the sports wagering emporium at the M Resort Spa and Casino. On one of the dozens of TVs around the room, the Detroit Tigers are playing the White Sox in Chicago and Jimmy E. has a feeling.

    From Steven Johnson’s “Invisible City”:

    New Yorkers are accustomed to strong odors, but several years ago a new aroma began wafting through the city streets, a smell that was more unnerving than the usual offenders (trash, sweat, urine) precisely because it was so delightful: the sweet, unmistakable scent of maple syrup. It was a fickle miasma, though, draping itself over Morningside Heights one afternoon, disappearing for weeks, reemerging in Chelsea for a few passing hours before vanishing again. Fearing a chemical warfare attack, perhaps from the Aunt Jemima wing of al Queda, hundreds of New Yorkers reported the smell to authorities. The New York Times first wrote about it in October 2005; local blogs covered each outbreak, augmented by firsthand reports in their comment threads.

    From Sharon Begley’s “All Natural”:

    To be in the company of Chris Calhoun is to encounter breasts, and encounter the damn things anytime, anywhere—including over a plate of spaghetti in a bustling Manhattan restaurant.

    To be sure, this is the sort of magazine feature writing lead you can find anywhere, but Wired just does it really well. It’s really clever writing—figuring out where in the story to start that encapsulates what the story is about or where it’s going, and doing it in evocative prose that sets the scene. I’m probably more nerdy about their leads than I am about finding out about what cloud-driven app is coming to the iPad or what new way google has taken over the planet.

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    October 14, 2010

  • The Waiting Game
  • It feels like half the time I’m writing and the other half I’m waiting.

    Right now I’m waiting on a publisher to comment on a book proposal I submitted, waiting on another publisher to get around to commenting on a manuscript turned in three months ago, waiting for a magazine to see if they like a pitch I’ve sent them. There’s often waiting for feedback from editors/supervisors, waiting for things to come back from layout or the printer.

    I got my first short story published because I waited 14 months to have a novel proposal rejected and the editor felt so bad about keeping me waiting he gave me a shot at their short fiction anthology. Last year, I asked someone how long it took for them to get their pitch considered by a popular magazine (they got in, by the way) and it took a year.

    There’s not much else to say about this. It’s just a part of the writing life. You move on and work on other things. And wait.

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