Draft No. 4
A series of essays concerning John McPhee’s writing process. Given how interview-driven non-fiction dominates his work, these speak to how he conducts the interviews, conducts research, and structures the pieces. If Stephen King’s On Writing is a 101-level writing class, Draft No. 4 is a higher-level elective.
That said, McPhee offers an anecdote about fact-checking, worth reading by all:
The worst checking error is calling people dead who are not dead. In the words of Joshua Hersh, “It really annoys them.” Sara remembers a reader in a nursing home who read in The New Yorker that he was “the late” reader in the nursing home. He wrote demanding a correction. The New Yorker, in its next issue, of course complied, inadvertently doubling the error, because the reader died over the weekend while the magazine was being printed.
I laughed even harder when I realized it was too preposterous to include in a fictional story.