I was lucky enough, a little while ago, to get sent a copy of the mysterious Andy Devine’s latest, Words.
I ate it up. I loved it.
But, because it’s so new and fresh and different, it’s not the easiest book to describe. That won’t stop be trying though.
It’s made up of a number of sections. There’s a list of words that should not be used in fiction. There’s a list of words that should be used in fiction. There are alphabetical stories. There’s a 90k word novel that’s been condensed into something that’s twenty pages long. And there’s a revealing afterword by Michael Kimball.
All in all it’s an utter, utter joy to read and it is so original. It’s also a lot of fun.
So. I got in touch with Andy Devine and I asked him if he’d like to contribute to this post. And he said yes.
So, I give you:
Andy Devine’s Ten Implicit or Explicit Writing Tips
1. Fiction writers are only fiction writers when they are writing fiction.
2. Fiction is not life. The goal of fiction is not to be realistic. Writing the word chair does not create a chair that somebody can sit in.
3. Every work of fiction can be improved. The fiction writer must find a way to manage their incompetence if they are to continue writing fiction. The conception of the fiction is always greater than the execution of the fiction.
4. Every word has some amount of reference. The fiction writer must control that reference.
5. The fiction writer should use as many of the properties of language as possible in as many instances as possible in every sentence. The great fiction writer is possessed by considerations that nobody else cares about.
6. Whatever word is being considered, is it an important word?
7. The energy of the diction has to arise from the vocabulary that has preceded it.
8. Most proper nouns should be avoided. Obvious exceptions include the names of some streets, cities, states, rivers, and lakes, as well as the names of the months and the names of the days of the week.
9. Words with prepositions in them — downstairs, downtown, inside, outside, upstairs — are good words. Write fiction about people going inside, outside, upstairs, etc.
10. Every piece of fiction should have its own particular syntax.
Andy Devine’s alphabetical fiction and essays have appeared in a variety of literary magazines, including New York Tyrant, Unsaid, elimae, Everyday Genius, and Taint. In 2002, Devine was awarded the Riddley Walker Prize (for a work that ignores conventional rules of grammar and punctuation). In 2007, he published his first chapbook, “As Day Same That the the Was Year” (Publishing Genius). In 2009, Devine was awarded The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Award (for fiction in the face of adversity). WORDS (2010, Publishing Genius) is his first book. Andy Devine Avenue — in Flagstaff, Arizona — is named after him.
And that’s not all. Oh no. Here’s a trailer for the book. Cool, isn’t it?
Andy Devine’s WORDS from Little Burn Films on Vimeo.