George Saunders on Editing

The Guardian published a wonderful interview with George Saunders in which he discusses (among other things) his writing process. Here’s a tantalizing sample of the article:

My method is: I imagine a meter mounted in my forehead, with “P” on this side (“Positive”) and “N” on this side (“Negative”). I try to read what I’ve written uninflectedly, the way a first-time reader might (“without hope and without despair”). Where’s the needle? Accept the result without whining. Then edit, so as to move the needle into the “P” zone. Enact a repetitive, obsessive, iterative application of preference: watch the needle, adjust the prose, watch the needle, adjust the prose (rinse, lather, repeat), through (sometimes) hundreds of drafts. Like a cruise ship slowly turning, the story will start to alter course via those thousands of incremental adjustments. The artist, in this model, is like the optometrist, always asking: Is it better like this? Or like this?

Well worth the read – if you have the time, check it out!

Illustration by Yann Kebbi for Review.

Extensive Folktext Resource

If you’re interested in using mythic or fairy-tale tropes in your fiction, here’s a wonderful online resource I discovered recently. The website – called “Folktexts” – was compiled by the retired scholar D.L. Ashliman. It contains a vast selection of tales which are grouped into themes, from “Bald Stories” to “Flatulent Stories” (and everything else in between). An excellent resource to dip into if you’re looking for some faerie inspiration.