If you wanna be a writer you gotta be a reader. We likely all agree on that. But what kind of reader? It’s fun when a novel totally engages us. We get lost in it. It becomes, as John Champlin Gardner described, a “vivid and continuous and dream.’ We float along on the story. Let […]Read article
Category: Reading and Writers
A Question About Your Novel?
Why? For what reason are you writing it? The subject is no small matter. Freud maintained that we do things for one or more of five reasons: “honor, power, fame, riches, and the love of women.” (Let’s just say ‘love’.) None of these reasons are necessarily wrong-headed, but there are better ones. How about joy? […]Read article
What’s Your Prose Style?
You’re a writer. So let’s get geeky and talk about sentences. Below in bold is one of mine. It’s about as long and weighty as mine get, but it’s for a nonfiction piece. I’ve been invited to contribute a chapter for an anthology centered on a fairly interesting (if geeky) question: where does the American […]Read article
A Leg To Stand On
As our American political system devolves toward a useless institution that pleases no one, American publishing may not be far behind. The New York Times recently spoke to the matter of publishing houses employing “sensitivity readers.” These are an extra layer of editorial scrutiny aiming to spot potentially offending language, allusions, metaphors, et al–anything that […]Read article
Everybody Wants You: Tips on Public Speaking
So I’m delivering serious remarks to a big crowd in a big ballroom at a Mariott Hotel in Minneapolis. It’s the Western Literature Association’s annual conference. I’ve practiced, timed myself, and the audience is with me. I’m building up to a feel-good ending that will both summarize the speech and send the crowd off thinking […]Read article
Reading Makes the Man (Or Boy)
How do angry young men become that way? What has gone wrong in their lives? One answer might be reading–or lack of it. The big American publishing houses have thrown in the towel on books for young men. Why? Because books for teen boys don’t sell. Boys don’t buy books. Boys don’t go to mall […]Read article
Is There a Next Generation of Readers?
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) recently published a study on reading. It confirms what most teachers and librarians already know. Kids read less and less. The stats show a particularly alarming drop among teenagers. They spend more time on the internet and less time with the printed word (duh). Dana Gioia, the NEA […]Read article
Power Reading for Better Writing
“If you want to be a writer, you gotta be a reader,” someone (me) once said. But who has the time to do both? Here’s a solution that works for me. When I’m stuck on a novel–frozen up, blocked, or otherwise suffering a complete loss of confidence –I get my ass to a library. Preferably […]Read article
National Book Award Hangover
“I’ve mentioned earlier in this blog my experience as a judge for last year’s National Book Awards, Young Adult panel. It involved reading 278 novels in a short summer. I knew I’d learn a lot about writing in the process, but was unprepared for the “hangover” effect upon my writing. In a nutshell, the whole […]Read article