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: writing tips
Tolkien, Kerouac, and You
I wrote a full draft of my my most successful novel in three weeks. However, every novel is its own puzzle to solve, and it’s usually a mistake to hark back to the previous book (in this case, Memory Boy) when writing a new one. There are two very general approaches to writing a novel: […]Read article
Another Good Question About Your Novel
I often get letters from former writing students, or friends of friends who are working on a novel, or complete strangers who have read one of my books and are working on one of their own. Usually they have a central question about their writing project that they’re hung up on. I try to say […]Read article
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
“Don’t Make a Scene”
You’ve heard that line. Maybe it was a parent speaking to a child behaving badly. Maybe it was in a public place where a couple was working out a problem. One begs the other, “Please don’t make a scene!” Ah, but making a scene is exactly what we do in fiction writing. Scene-by-scene writing is […]Read article
The Courage To Write
At every writing workshop I teach, I learn something. Or relearn it. Recently with a group of twenty earnest adults in a small library room I was reminded of something I had forgotten: it take courage to write. Courage to put down the first sentence. Courage to keep going. Courage to share what you’ve written […]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