Editor’s Corner 101.16


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Shawn MacKENZIE:

Stream of Consciousness – Going with a structured flow.

Originally posted on the secret keeper:

Dangling Our Toes in the Stream of Consciousness

Scribe smallI love flowers Id love to have the whole place swimming in roses God of heaven theres nothing like nature the wild mountains then the sea and waves rushing then the beautiful country with the fields of oats and wheat and all kinds of things and all the fine cattle going about that would do your heart good to see rivers and lakes and flowers all sorts of shapes and smells and colours…

So, I picked up Ulysses the other day – as one is wont to do – and dove into the roiling river which is Molly Bloom’s beautifully, rudely fecund tale at book’s end. With my mind groping towards a subject for today, I read not only for the jaw-dropping poetry of the words tumbling across the page, but also for their precise, artful construction.

james-joycecollageAfter last week’s discussion of…

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Editor’s Corner 101.15


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Shawn MacKENZIE:

Structure and Time: Castles built on shifting sand soon crumble….

Originally posted on the secret keeper:

House of Words

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” …Lewis Carroll.

Scribe smallWhen I was a kid, aside from wanting to be a writer, part of me wanted to be an architect. To design and build houses – and castles – from the ground up. To focus on the 3-D aesthetic of what goes where and how it all fits together. As I grew up, I realized that you don’t have to build houses to focus on the elements of construction. And so today, I want to talk about literary structure, about how, as writers, we are architects with words. shot02

First, let me clarify: I am not talking about plot. Personally, I tend to be a little lukewarm about plot. But I love structure.

And at heart, structure is largely a matter of knowing – and keeping…

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Valentine Alternative….


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It is the Ides of February.

Happy Lupercalia!

A time to honor the she-wolf who cared for Romulus and Remus.

To celebrate the fading winter – we can but hope – and the fecundity of the coming spring!

So….run naked through the streets and howl to the heavens!



And if you want to give that special little red-haired girl a Valentine, that’s cool, too.


Shawn MacKENZIE:

Fascinating film – worth a look.

Originally posted on LeakSource:



CITIZENFOUR is a real life thriller, unfolding by the minute, giving audiences unprecedented access to filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s encounters with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, as he hands over classified documents providing evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Poitras had already been working on a film about surveillance for two years when Snowden contacted her, using the name “CITIZENFOUR,” in January 2013.  He reached out to her because he knew she had long been a target of government surveillance, stopped at airports numerous times, and had refused to be intimidated. When Snowden revealed he was a high-level analyst driven to expose the massive surveillance of Americans by the NSA, Poitras persuaded him to let her film.

CITIZENFOUR places you in the room with Poitras, Greenwald, and Snowden as they attempt to manage the media…

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Editor’s Corner 101.14


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Shawn MacKENZIE:

The nitty-gritty of world building. What fun!

Originally posted on the secret keeper:

Deviling the Details

Scribe smallThose of you who visited the Editor’s Corner last week will likely think I am working in a backasswards fashion. Given that I am never quite sure what I will tackle until I set fingers a typing, I am actually surprised this doesn’t happen on a regular basis.

Be that as it may, last week I spoke about going macro and reclaiming your Big Picture. Today, I want to turn the telescope around and talk micro: the realm of detail and what particular details tell the reader. A character can have breakfast, sure. But a breakfast of corn flakes and black coffee says something very different than eggs benedict and fresh pomegranate juice. A simple suburban house tells us far less about its occupants than a Cape Cod on a corner lot with a thriving vegetable garden around back. John Cheever would certainly never settle for the…

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“Letters to a Young Poet” [Part VIII of XXIX]


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Shawn MacKENZIE:

Dragons and Rilke! What could be better?

Originally posted on the secret keeper:

rainer maria rilke letters to a young poet COVER

“Letters to a Young Poet”

by Rainer Maria Rilke


Post by Jennifer Kiley

Post Sunday 8th February 2015

RILKE Painting blond

(8th week)

“We have no reason
to mistrust our world,
for it is not
against us.
Has it terrors,
they are our terrors;
has it abysses,
those abysses belong to us;
are dangers at hand,
we must try
to love them…
How should we
be able to forget
those ancient myths
about dragons
that at the least moment
turn into princesses;
perhaps all the dragons
of our lives
are princesses
who are only waiting
to see us
once beautiful
and brave.”

 1 home large photo

One of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Homes

Dvorak, New World Symphony – 2nd Mvt Part 2,

Dublin Philharmonic, Conductor Derek Gleeson

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Editor’s Corner 101.13


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Shawn MacKENZIE:

Pounding one’s head against the rocks….Time to let it be.

Originally posted on the secret keeper:

Other Eyes and Beatles Wisdom

Scribe smallThe trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close up.” …Chuck Palahniuk

“It is better to take pleasure in a rose than to put its root under a microscope.” …Oscar Wilde.

There comes a time in every editing endeavor when each wall you face is an Everest and each knot Gordian in its complexity. You have taken your work apart, dissected and resected every sentence, paragraph, and chapter. You know your characters inside out and have removed every extraneous pronoun, preposition, and adverb, but still it’s not right.

Typewriter Girl - Zev HooverTypewriter Girl – Zev Hoover

Chances are, while slogging through dense literary underbrush, you have not only lost sight of the forest, but also the trees. This is the boundary beyond which all the rules in the world will do you absolutely no good. In fact, chances are you are in this…

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Editor’s Corner 101.12


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Shawn MacKENZIE:

In honor of our audiences….

Originally posted on the secret keeper:

Audience Appreciation Day

Scribe smallIt is my hatching day – well, it was when I wrote this – so I am invoking the Celebrant’s Prerogative to be brief.

Today, I want to talk about audience, trust, and respect. When we write, a part of us is at least peripherally mindful of our audience. Whether we imagine legions clamoring for our prose, pushing us up the bestseller lists, or focus on a more limited public of our devoted blog and website followers, audience is important. After all, we are in the business of sharing our work, of shouting it to the proverbial rafters and communicating our ideas to best effect. Real or ideal, awareness of audience leads us to choose fitting storylines and characters, as well as structures and language that are both age and genre appropriate.

Sadly, this too often leads people to believe they need to oversimplify or – Goddess…

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Editor’s Corner 101.11


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Shawn MacKENZIE:

When I first wrote this, we were not in the deep freeze of January. Seasonal variations aside, I think the advice still holds.

Originally posted on the secret keeper:

Packing Up Clutter and Dispatching Our Darlings

Scribe smallThis morning the rain – and snow – stopped here in the Green Mountains, the sun came out, and I was finally able to mow the shaggy lawn and begin the arduous spring ritual of uncluttering my life. While this is one of those ongoing projects which I likely won’t finish until the next millennium (I come from a family of long-lived optimists), it is something I mirror in a more manageable way when I sit down to edit and rewrite.

Which is what I am doing right now to a short story I wrote four years ago. It was ok at the time, but I always thought there was something that didn’t quite work. Or could work better. At the time the need to pen two books intervened, but now, up against a block on my chinchilla novel, there’s no better time…

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Editor’s Corner 101.10


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Shawn MacKENZIE:

Cliches, then and now….

Originally posted on the secret keeper:

Every Dog Will Have His Cliché
Written by Shawn MacKenzie

Scribe smallI am going to start with a little tale from the past. History is a passion of mine, particularly the history of words, writing, and books. In 1450 CE, goldsmith-turned-printer Johannes Gutenberg popularized moveable type, and books left the hallowed confines of scriptorium walls for the libraries and studies of anyone with ready cash and the ability to read. (Note: The Chinese and Koreans had moveable type as early as the 11th century, but, given the intricacies of their ideographic languages, a proliferation of books was not immediately forthcoming.)

Printing-Press-1568 As revolutionary as Gutenberg was, each word on each page still had to be set individually. Once an edition came off the presses, the type was knocked down and used for the next project. This was labor intensive, to say the least, particularly if a book became an unexpected bestseller…

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