Friday, October 07, 2011

Today's Dispatch: Writing and Attribution

This post is brought to you by Jessica Zafra and her ongoing coverage of Gaz Holgate in the Philippines.

Screen capture: mine; original photo source, JZ and Team Gaz.
You want Gaz, I'll give you Gaz:

Screen capture: mine; original photo source: JZ and Team Gaz. 
All pictures screen-capped from this entry on Jessica Rules The Universe.

- I mention Jessica Zafra here because we just had the most interesting discussion about the attribution of sources on her blog. This hits close to home for me, both as a teacher and writer, because I take attribution seriously; in my opinion, without the proper citation of a source, you are basically stealing somebody else's words and passing them off as your own. It doesn't matter if you're sharing a puff piece, a legal document, or an academic paper; all of your sources must be cited. I've learned this the hard way as a graduate student, and it pains me to see anyone cutting and pasting words without even thinking about the consequences, especially young people.

(As it goes, I am currently looking at all of my kids' term papers, and you won't believe how many of them I've flagged for not citing sources properly.)

- Since I'm on a roll, I might as well go ahead and mention that even fiction writers have to cite their sources too. My favorite attribution comes from David Mitchell in Cloud Atlas (one of my favorite books right now) who wrote in the credits that one of his characters "quotes Nietzsche more freely than he admits." In my case, I recently took out the lyrics to "Give A Little Bit" from one of my manuscripts after realizing that they had taken over an entire scene. (Which is funny, because I also left in a few lines of "Like a Virgin" because it's supposedly sung off-key at a karaoke bar.) My philosophy is that leaving quotes wholesale in a manuscript have the tendency to take a reader away from the action itself, much in the same way that an annoying pop song in a movie can take you away from an otherwise good scene.

- And because I must post about makeup: Swatches from the Bobbi Brown 1991 Lip Palette on Makeup and Beauty Blog. Want.

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