Draft no. 4 : on the writing process / John McPhee.

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  • Additional Information
    • Publication Information:
      First edition.
    • Abstract:
      Summary: "Draft No. 4 is a master class on the writer's craft. In a series of playful, expertly wrought essays, John McPhee shares insights he has gathered over his career and has refined while teaching at Princeton University, where he has nurtured some of the most esteemed writers of recent decades. McPhee offers definitive guidance in the decisions regarding arrangement, diction, and tone that shape nonfiction pieces, and he presents extracts from his work, subjecting them to wry scrutiny. In one essay, he considers the delicate art of getting sources to tell you what they might not otherwise reveal. In another, he discusses how to use flashback to place a bear encounter in a travel narrative, while observing that "readers are not supposed to notice the structure. It is meant to be about as visible as someone's bones." The result is a vivid depiction of the writing process, from reporting to drafting to revising--and revising, and revising. Draft No. 4 is enriched by multiple diagrams and by personal anecdotes and charming reflections on the life of a writer. McPhee describes his enduring relationships with The New Yorker and Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and recalls his early years at Time magazine. Throughout, Draft No. 4 is enlivened by his keen sense of writing as a way of being in the world."--Jacket.
    • Content Notes:
      Progression -- Structure -- Editors & publisher -- Elicitation -- Frame of reference -- Checkpoints -- Draft no. 4 -- Omission.
    • Other Titles:
      Draft number 4. Draft number four.
    • ISBN:
    • Accession Number:
    • Accession Number:
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LJ Reviews 2017 April #2

A Pulitzer Prize winner in general nonfiction, George Polk Career Award winner, and longtime staff writer at The New Yorker, McPhee continues to define American journalism today; many of the students who have taken his course at Princeton have gone on to significant roles in media. Here, McPhee gathers everything he's learned from decades of writing and teaching to analyze the writing process.

Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

LJ Reviews 2017 June #2

In the tradition of William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, who enlivened modern writing with The Elements of Style, McPhee (Encounters with the Archdruid) has set the standard for the genre of creative nonfiction. In this collection of essays, previously published in The New Yorker, McPhee reflects on his experience writing long-form nonfiction books and magazine articles. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author, who started at Time magazine, draws insights into the writing process from his career at The New Yorker and teaching writing at Princeton University. With humor and aplomb, he recalls anecdotes about how he approached a story: from interviewing and reporting to drafting and revising, to working with editors and publishers. These essays reveal how his personal experiences and observations informed and shaped his groundbreaking prose. VERDICT Aspiring authors expecting a step-by-step manual on how to write and publish nonfiction will have to look elsewhere. Here they will find a well-wrought road map to navigating the twists and turns, thrills and pitfalls, and joys and sorrows of the writer's journey. [See Prepub Alert, 3/20/17.]—Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL

Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

PW Reviews 2017 May #3

McPhee (Silk Parachute), a staff writer at the New Yorker and journalism professor at Princeton, offers here not a general how-to-do-it manual but a personal how-I-did-it of richer depth—not bouillon cubes, but rich stock. Some of McPhee's famous profile subjects (Woody Allen, Jackie Gleason) wander through the narrative, but only tangentially to the main subject, which is always writing. McPhee reveals a life spent with publishers, copy editors, fact checkers, and even "minders," those "watchdogs in coats and ties whose presence is a condition for an interview." He also uncovers the special world of magazines, notably the New Yorker when the legendary William Shawn reigned. He attends to technique, wrestling with tools of the journalistic trade (e.g., voice recorder, computer) while confessing his "basic technology" to be "a pencil and a lined four-by-six notebook." McPhee the teacher is a presence throughout, though rarely proscriptive. Questions guide—what must you put in, and leave out? How to handle your subject's own words? Along with specific advice, there is an implied and comforting message: that for most writers, this is not easy. McPhee lays it all out with the wit of one who believes that "writing has to be fun at least once in a pale blue moon." (Sept.)

Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.