Up until 1999, Italian college students were required to write longform theses, which explains why Umberto Eco felt the need to write a guide to completing one. Eco being Eco, however, the guide went on to become a classic with many applications. At Page-Turner, Hua Hsu explains why the author’s writing manual is also a guide to life. You could also read Hillary Kelly on Eco’s Confessions of a Young Novelist.
Does getting up early make you a better writer? Not necessarily according to Maria Popova’s infographic of authors’ wake up times paired with their overall productivity (books published and awards won). The findings: Writers who sleep in write more but win fewer awards than early birds. Our conclusion: Just get up whenever you want.
Back to the Future II originally featured a very different Doc Brown from the one that made the final cut. Behold Doc’s 1967 alias, his hippie parents, and his apparent affinity for motorcycles in this 147-page script (PDF) that was later re-purposed into the movie we know today. (The Bizarro Doc action picks up around page 90.)
Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa has come back to haunt Salman Rushdie once again. Iran is threatening to boycott the Frankfurt Book Fair because Rushdie was invited to give the keynote speech. You could also read our essay on how Rushdie passed the time while in hiding.
It’s not always a given that good people make good characters. Over at The Atlantic, Tony Tulathimutte explains how none other than one Philip Roth taught him the importance of showing every aspect of your characters–even the bad ones. Here’s an older piece from the same series in which Paul Lisicky writes about Flannery O’Connor and her “flawed characters.”
Read Stephen Elliot‘s (Editor of The Rumpus, and author of the memoir The Adderall Diaries) fascinating account of his Lending Library program, whereby, prior to release, he sent a free galley of his memoir to anyone who promised to pass it on to someone else within a week.