Think your novel could use a language of its own, but don’t have the philological powers of Tolkien? Then take a few lessons from Game of Throne‘s resident linguist, David J. Peterson, who turned George R.R. Martin‘s 55 Dothraki names into a 4,000 word vocabulary with a working grammar.
In her short history of executioners, Stassa Edwards notes that the decision to replace “the traditional punishment” of drowning people “in a sack in a local river” was actually quite pragmatic: it was “more economical” to go with a simple beheading.
New this week: The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud, A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel, NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, and three newly translated books from by Icelandic author Sjón: The Blue Fox, The Whispering Muse, and From the Mouth of the Whale. New in paperback is The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers.
“The voices you hear when you sit down to write lead you to believe that you’re a character in the novel you’re writing even though metafiction hasn’t been invented yet.” If this applies to you, you might be in a Muriel Spark novel according to Maud Newton’s article at The Toast. We aren’t surprised that Newton wrote this because Spark made her 2010 Year in Reading post.
We are all by now familiar with J.K. Rowling‘s elaborate, hand-drawn outlines for the Harry Potter series, but what if all plots could be simplified further? Down to, let’s say, graphs? And not even an infinite number of graphs, but just six? The Paris Review considers the work of Matthew Jockers, a literature professor who studies “the relationship between sentiment and plot shape in fiction.”