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Ben Marcus’ essay from 2005 - William Gaddis

Date of publication: 2017-08-25 23:39

It 8767 s one of the apparently simple, but huge, decisions you have to make, right at the beginning: will your main narrative be in past tense, or present tense? It  is  always possible to change your mind later, but it can be anything between a nuisance and a nightmare . So it 8767 s well worth thinking hard, and looking at how writers you admire work with both, before you start.

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So try to narrow down your search so it’s as close as possible to the kind of novel you’ve written. Look inside the books you take off the shelves. Note down the title, author, and publisher or imprint in your notebook. Then look at the Author Notes or Acknowledgments section. You 8767 re looking for a note where the author thanks his or her literary agent. Many authors do this. When you find it, note the agent’s name and agency.


The obsession with patriarchal history manifests itself throughout Beowulf, which opens by tracing Hrothgar&rsquo s male ancestry and constantly refers to characters as the sons of their fathers. An awareness of family lineage is one way in which the heroic code integrates itself into the warriors&rsquo most basic sense of identity. By placing such an emphasis on who their fathers were and how their fathers acted, the men of Beowulf bind themselves to a cycle of necessity governed by the heroic code. For example, because Beowulf&rsquo s father owed a debt of loyalty to Hrothgar, Beowulf himself owes a debt of loyalty to Hrothgar. In this way, patriarchal history works to concretize and strengthen the warrior code in a world full of uncertainty and fear.

SparkNotes: To Kill a Mockingbird: Study Questions & Essay

As you generate points of comparison, consider the purpose and content of the assignment and the focus of the class. What do you think the professor wants you to learn by doing this comparison/contrast? How does it fit with what you have been studying so far and with the other assignments in the course? Are there any clues about what to focus on in the assignment itself?

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Don 8767 t spend your time cudgeling your brain over what they mean that way lies madness. And never write the agent back and to ask for an explanation or to inform them how wrong they are. That 8767 s extremely bad etiquette. Agents have long memories.

Samantha yes, I agree that when present tense isn 8767 t working, it 8767 s often because of that unreflective, headlong, one-thing-after-another rush that can 8767 t and doesn 8767 t stop to let things percolate. As Jauss suggests, it restricts the scope of what the story can do and say.

Puns. The only legal form of torture. If you are a dad, a teacher, or a bleary-eyed English major running on no sleep and a lot of coffee, you can probably appreciate the artistry of a good pun. Or at least, you can appreciate a good  literary  pun.  A pun that combines the sense of humor of a tired dad with the nerdiness of a tired grad student. Because there's nothing better than a highly specific pun that some people won't even get. So prepare to groan: here are some literary puns that only readers will understand.

I’ll nail my colours to the mast: I’ve always felt that past tense is how stories are told. After all, a story you’re telling has already happened, either in real life, or in your imagination. Present tense is powerful, but its power is also its limitation.

The most important thing to remember is that you are collecting info on these agents to try and get a feel for what the agent likes, what his or her literary tastes are. Doing this kind of research will also ensure that you don 8767 t waste your time querying agents that have gone out of business, died, have zero sales, etc.

have you ever start to read a book or watch a movie and it started to get good then is goes to commercial and you freak out because it was getting interesting.

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