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Articles on Writing

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Twain was an opinionated, prolific commentator on the personalities and political issues of his day. Terry Ballard/flickr

What would Mark Twain think of Donald Trump?

He probably would have been amused by – and maybe even befriended – Trump the entertainer. Trump the president? Not so much.
Emma Thompson as Elinor Dashwood in the 1995 film of Sense and Sensibility: a competent moral agent drawing only on her intelligence and experience. Columbia Pictures Corporation

Friday essay: the revolutionary vision of Jane Austen

This year is the bicentenary of Jane Austen's death and her celebrity continues to grow. But relegating Austen's work to plots about 'whether the heroine gets her man' belittles her achievement.
A termite mound in Cape Range National Park: WA’s geography has helped shape its writers. Susanna Dunkerley/AAP

From Tim Winton to Gail Jones: why writing matters in WA

With its dramatic landscape, relative isolation and vibrant counter culture, Western Australia has a thriving writing scene. But government funding cuts are biting.
The prescriptivist stranglehold on grammar isn’t just restrictive, it’s often just plain wrong. from www.shutterstock

Things you were taught at school that are wrong

Were your teachers right about when to use commas, and about not starting sentences with 'and'?
Georgia Blain: Her work draws attention to the tiny incandescent moments that make up our lives. Scribe Publications

Goodbye Georgia Blain: a brave and true chronicler of life

The Australian writer Georgia Blain, who died last week, wrote extraordinary portraits of family relationships, in luminous prose, with devastating insight. And when she became ill, she wrote about her cancer.
A wax model of Ernest Hemingway at Madame Tussauds in New York. Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock.com

Friday essay: why literary celebrity is a double-edged sword

Bob Dylan is now a literary celebrity. And next week, the Booker Prize judges will anoint another. The tag is still chiefly attached to men but women authors shouldn't despair: fame and good writing can be uneasy bedfellows.
When did past simple tense become passé, I ask myself. Tekke/Flickr

Getting tense (about tense in fiction)

Writers, over the last decade, have been waxing lyrical about the rise of the present tense in English fiction. But this morning I read something entirely new – for me, at least. I read a manuscript written…
A portrait of Indian poet and musician Rabindranath Tagore. Cherishsantosh/Wikimedia Commons

No, Bob Dylan isn’t the first lyricist to win the Nobel

In 1913, an Indian literary giant named Rabindranath Tagore was the first non-white person to win the literature prize. He wrote over 2,000 songs and, like Dylan's, they still resonate today.
Lionel Shriver in 2014: her keynote address at the Brisbane Writers Festival on cultural appropriation has unleashed a torrent of opinion. Dean Lewins/AAP

Lionel Shriver and the responsibilities of fiction writers

Lionel Shriver's controversial speech about cultural appropriation has made headlines around the world. But the debate need not be a binary one – novelists might approach characters from other cultures as 'thoughtful tourists'.
The Starship Enterprise, the famed setting of the original ‘Star Trek’ series, was almost lost to the graveyard of failed pilots. alanoodle.com

How ‘Star Trek’ almost failed to launch

With a pilot that was deemed too complex and cerebral, 'Star Trek' looked dead in the water. Fifty years later, we look back at the show's rocky beginnings.

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