Norman Mailer’s Spreadsheet for Harlot’s Ghost

Jeez, this one makes Rowling’s spreadsheet for The Order of the Phoenix look simple. Mailer is basically just listing events throughout the 1960s, with the dates down the left hand side, and then using the rest of the columns to detail each relevant strand of that era, but to make sure that the time frame is accurate, it’s almost like he’s haphazardly ripped pages from a history book and then messily taped them onto a big piece of card. The red felt-tip joins various facts together with each other, and I’m guessing that the arrows might be for when one incident leads on to another, although he also uses the same pen to underline certain text. I can’t quite see what the different colour coding is for (the light blue, pink etc.) and he adds sporadic crosses and lines over particular blocks of information for some reason, even sketching cryptic images into a few: one that looks like a mouth bearing teeth and another resembling a halved avocado? I’m sure he knew what was going on anyway…

Norman Mailer Harlot's Ghost

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Writers’ Confessions – David Benioff Discusses the Writing Process

An interview with David Benioff, one of the two Game of Thrones show-runners, about the differences between screenwriting and being a novelist. He brings up the satisfaction when you see your book in the shop/store for the first time, and it’s a shame that most indie authors will never know what this feels like. After all of the time and effort that it takes to complete a novel, the majority of titles will only ever be available as digital files or self-published physical copies that will never be present on the high street. Clearly, it’s nice that at least these platforms are open for us these days, but it’s still not quite the same as being able to see your work being packaged and sold on the shelves with all of the big names. However, I think that there’s more chance of experiencing this sensation than there is of viewing your screenplay come to life; even if you’re fortunate enough to be writing for a TV show or movie, there could well be so much studio interference that the finished product isn’t what you wanted in the first place. Benioff’s a very lucky man to have the best of both worlds, and does a great job with Game of Thrones in my opinion.

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Mad Men’s Matthew Weiner on Advice to Aspiring Writers

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Cinema: Alfred Hitchcock (1966)

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Telescope: A Talk with Hitchcock

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PG Wodehouse on the BBC

It’s a shame that the complete interviews haven’t been uploaded, but it’s good to see anything of the great writer talking about his famous comic creations Jeeves and Wooster.

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JK Rowling’s Handwritten Spreadsheet for The Order of the Phoenix

I always find it interesting to examine other writers’ methods, and handwritten notes can often be more insightful than hearing an author being interviewed. As you can see, this spreadsheet shows how J.K. Rowling structured part of the fifth Harry Potter novel The Order of the Phoenix, and the chapter numbers, months and headings are listed down the first three columns. Continuing along the top are various elements of the story that she wanted to evolve throughout the book, with the key points being catagorised in one, followed by the various subplots: “PROPHECY” refers to the ongoing saga of Voldemort and Harry, “Cho/Ginny” is the romantic development, “D.A.” is predominately centred around the Hogwarts pupils forming Dumbledore’s Army, “O of P” is the adults’ alliance, “Snape/ Harry + father” contains the revelations disclosed within their lessons together, and “Hagrid & Grawp” obviously signals where she wants the two giants to fit in with the rest of it. Each strand has to correlate with each other and sometimes overlap to make sure that the completed book doesn’t feel segregated and detached, and there needs to be movement and resolutions within all of them. I’d be interested to see Rowling’s early notes on how she was proposing to structure the entire series; how detailed did she make them and in what ways did they alter in the finished product.

JK Rowling Harry Potter structure notes

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