Bookmarked Novelist Cormac McCarthy’s tips on how to write a great science paper (nature.com)

The Pulitzer prizewinner shares his advice for pleasing readers, editors and yourself.

Cormac McCarthy’s words of wisdom, as told by Van Savage and Pamela Yeh:

  • Use minimalism to achieve clarity.
  • Decide on your paper’s theme and two or three points you want every reader to remember.
  • Limit each paragraph to a single message.
  • Keep sentences short, simply constructed and direct.
  • Don’t slow the reader down.
  • Don’t over-elaborate.
  • And don’t worry too much about readers who want to find a way to argue about every tangential point and list all possible qualifications for every statement. Just enjoy writing.
  • With regard to grammar, spoken language and common sense are generally better guides for a first draft than rule books.
  • Commas denote a pause in speaking.
  • Dashes should emphasize the clauses you consider most important — without using bold or italics — and not only for defining terms.
  • Inject questions and less-formal language to break up tone and maintain a friendly feeling.
  • Choose concrete language and examples.
  • Avoid placing equations in the middle of sentences.
  • When you think you’re done, read your work aloud to yourself or a friend.
  • After all this, send your work to the journal editors.
  • Finally, try to write the best version of your paper: the one that you like.
Replied to Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy (A Point of Contact)

McCarthy is an incredible writer. There were long segments of description that projected on my mind like a delirious flu induced night of dreams. This might actually be the main reason why a film would be so difficult, no on-screen images could match McCarthy’s descriptions.

I recently read an interesting interview discussion the filming of Blood Meridian, but I had not come across Christopher Douglas’ piece. I like his closing remarks:

Whether the judge is a deputy serving an “evil Yahweh” or a scientist discovering God’s dark designs in nature may not ultimately matter. Blood Meridian is an intensely religious novel that articulates our worst fears — about the world, about each other, about God Himself. Perhaps it’s best to let this novel lie sleeping. Let’s not awake its power for film audiences at all.

I really enjoyed the book. I found Blood Meridian as one of those books that really keeps you thinking well after you have put it down. I wrote more about it here.

Bookmarked Harold Bloom on Cormac McCarthy, True Heir to Melville and Faulkner (Literary Hub)

If there is a pragmatic tradition of the American Sublime, then Cormac McCarthy’s fictions are its culmination. Moby-Dick and Faulkner’s major, early novels are McCarthy’s prime precursors. Melville’s Ahab fuses together Shakespeare’s tragic protagonists—Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth—and crosses them with a quest both Promethean and American. Even as Montaigne’s Plato became Emerson’s, so Melville’s Shakespeare becomes Cormac McCarthy’s. Though critics will go on associating McCarthy with Faulkner, who certainly affected McCarthy’s style in Suttree (1979), the visionary of Blood Meridian (1985) and The Border Trilogy (1992, 1994, 1998) has much less in common with Faulkner, and shares more profoundly in Melville’s debt to Shakespeare.

Harold Bloom discusses Cormac McCarthy’s novel Blood Meridian. He traces the connections to Shakespeare, Melville and Faulkner.