Friday, June 22, 2018

The Common Dead Spot in Most Biographies

Most biographies have to slog through an only marginally interesting youth until the real story kicks in.

Joseph Kanon 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Writing For an Audience of One

I wrote for fourteen years before I finally sold something, so it is clear that I am not writing totally for an audience. I write what I have to write--and then find out who might be interested in reading it.

Donna Jo Napoli

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Writing a Book Is a Long, Lonely Journey

To write, you must concentrate, concentrate long and hard, and being alone is the price of that concentration. It takes years of self-imposed quarantine to write even a bad novel.

Tobias Wolfe 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Unauthorized Biography

Unauthorized biographies undress their subjects. When John Updike realized that a biographer was on his case, he hurriedly wrote a memoir, Self-Consciousness, so that he could forestall the biography. Autobiography and the authorized biography are time-honored methods of attempting to derail independent biographies and make them seem illicit.

Carl Rollyson, Biography, 2008 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Stephen Koch On Clear Writing

  First drafts, even pretty good ones, can be excruciatingly hard for anyone but their authors to read….What is going on? Is John talking to Mary, or is he talking to Bill? Are we in Iowa or Guatemala? Nothing is so infuriating as not being understood, but if a reader of good basic intelligence does not know what you are talking about, you have a problem. Don't rationalize it by blaming the messenger for the message. Your reader is not stupid. You are not being understood, and it is your problem.

     Sadly, your first readers may be reluctant to tell you the truth about your lack of clarity. It is a fact that many readers (especially in a school) will go to great lengths to conceal their bafflement over a piece of prose they don't understand. Rather than run the risk of being thought dense or uncomprehending or philistine, all too many readers, including many who should know better--editors, teachers, workshop members--would rather skip over an obscurity than admit they just don't get it.

Stephen Koch

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Novelist's Fear Of Failure

American novelists, more than others, are haunted by the fear of failure, because it's such a common pattern in America. The ghost of Fitzgerald, dying in Hollywood, with his comeback book unfinished, and his best book, Tender Is The Night, scorned. His ghost hangs over every American novelist's typewriter.

Irwin Shaw

Saturday, June 16, 2018

So-Called Novels That Write Themselves

The assumption is that writing a novel is so easy anyone can do it if only there weren't the pressures of an important busy schedule, which apparently you, dear writer, do not have. In fact, a good story often reads so easily that civilians [non-writers] seem to think that the darn things write themselves. Whenever I leave the house, I make sure that one of my novels is hard at work. I expect five pages by the time I get back.

David Morrell