Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Scandal Proof Your Writing

Plagiarism scandals.

Memoirs that turn out to be a little factually suspect.

Levi Asher on the Guardian blog reckons journalists and publishers
... must must take some of the blame for the lack of clarity regarding truth in authorship ...
and offers the following guidelines to help authors avoid scandal:
1. Do not use the word "memoir" unless you mean it.

2. If you're not sure whether what you're writing is a memoir or not, guess what? It's a novel.

3. No more than half a page of plagiarism per book.

4. Don't make up exact dates that you can't remember. Instead, be general: "The most important day of my life was the day of my son's birth, in the summer of 2005 ..."

5. Just say no to sending a friend out in public with a wig as you.

6. If you're in a flame war and you're about to go sock puppet, take a 10-minute break and go to a coffee shop without a wi-fi facility. Maybe the walk will cool you down.

7. Go ahead and make up dialogue. Everybody except Tom Wolfe does.

8. Pick a name. "Benjamin Black is John Banville" is just not a good look.
Want to know why he chooses these particular tips? Check out the post.

And while we're on the subject of memoirs that don't quite factually check out, the Australian reports that the authenticity of Ishmael Beah's acclaimed but now somewhat discredited A Long Way Gone will be discussed by a panel of academics at a reading festival in Portland, Oregon this week.

Methinks the whole issue has gone cold already.

1 comment:

Argus Lou said...

Can't imagine No. 5 happening. Hilarious!