Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Yale grad and Time
editor Briton Hadden
Senior Journalist advises Junior Journalist on writing tricks.
JJ: This story just isn’t writing itself.
SJ: Stories don’t write themselves. WE write the stories.
JJ: Never had a fact that didn’t fit?
SJ: Of course. Dropped it. Story got clearer.
JJ: You never had writer’s block?
SJ: Of course. Wrote myself out of it.
JJ: And after all that writing, how did you edit it back to the seventy words?
SJ: Timestyle. Fleshed out the heroes and villains with adjectives.
Timestyle. Loaded front-end sentences and neologisms. An outdated style? Even Briton Hadden who was said to have encouraged writers to use expressions like, “Constantly inverted sentences keep busy businessmen on their mental toes,” was using stylistics from Homer.

Parodying Timestyle? Wolcott Gibbs did it first in a 1938 New Yorker article, "Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind … Where it all will end, knows God.”

Could it ever make a comeback? Well, here’s the start of a Time book review from 2011. “Writing her lover’s “autobiography” proved a witty way for American author Gertrude Stein to detail her own life as Parisian writer, salon host and arts patron.”

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