Friday, November 27, 2015

Creating Dialogue in Fiction

When I write dialogue, I feel as though I'm merely the typist, transcribing what the characters say inside my head. I don't have the sense that I'm making anything up.

Elizabeth Berg 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Making Real Money as a Writer

You would-be Thomas Wolfes and Gertrude Steins out there should understand one thing above all: likely you ain't gonna make no money as a writer. Real money I mean.

Larry L. King 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Rare Creative Writing Student Who Can Write Creatively

I think that out of seven years of teaching at the University of Pennsylvania I found maybe two students who had their own voice, in my judgment. There were lots who were competent but only two who were startling.

Paula Fox 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Plight of the Creative Writing Teacher

Creative writing teachers, poor souls, must immerse themselves in slop and take it seriously. It is probably impossible to teach anyone to be a good writer. You can teach people how to read, possibly.

William H. Gass

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Discouraging Word For Aspiring Novelists

I think aspiring writers need as much discouragement as we can muster. Nobody should undertake the life of a fiction writer--so unrenumerative, so maddeningly beset by career vagaries--who has any other choice in the matter. Learn a trade! Flannery O'Conner said it best: "People are always asking me if the university stifles writers. I reply that it hasn't stifled enough of them."

Gerald Howard 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Searching For a Way to teach Creative Writing

Some well-known writers are disdainful of anyone being able to teach creative writing in a meaningful way. They fear that what is being taught is mechanical "factory fiction" rather than worthwhile art that reflects the human condition in an entertaining way. In my view, this is a disingenuous attitude, because books or classes in creative writing can only point the way. There is no magic formula, and the ambitious but uninspired writer who searches for it will never succeed. Studying writing through analysis, or, more accurately diagnosis, is not a justification for encouraging or perpetuating mediocrity.

Peter Rubie

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Difficulty of Being a Woman Novelist Who Is Married

Men writers who are married to non-working wives--that is, wives who stay at home--have a certain advantage. Every writer needs a wife!--someone to stand guard, to cook meals, to deal with the immediate problems of house and children, and keep them out of their husbands' hair. It's more difficult for women writers, who have to do all these chores plus their writing.

Phyllis A. Whitney 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Stealing From Other Novelists

Robert Penn Warren's All The King's Men is one of my favorite books. I read a lot of southern writers--Faulkner, Eudora Welty--and a lot of Dickens. It seems I stole something from everybody I ever read. I hope in a good way.

Rick Bragg 

Friday, November 6, 2015

When a Writer Faces the Blank Page

Writing should be a snap. We've been telling stories all our lives; we know all of these words; we've got a pen and some paper and a million ideas. We fiddle. We put on some music. We scribble. We stare out the window. We remember we have that wedding to go to next August. Better buy a gift soon. We smooth out the paper. We consider how none of our errands are getting done while we sit. We get up. And now we know what writers already know: that writing is difficult, and it is a disorderly and unnerving enterprise, and because it is, we all have, it seems, developed an unnatural resistance to the blank page.

John Dufresne 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Is Suicide a Career Move For Writers?

Anne Sexton (who killed herself) saw Sylvia Plath's suicide as a career move, one that had been taken from her because Plath beat her to it. Sexton say suicide as a kind of death that had a lot of resonance for a literary career and also helped with the marketing of the work. Her prediction about Sylvia Plath came true: Plath was relatively unknown when she killed herself, but shortly after that she becaqme the best-known woman writer in American and probably England as well.

Diane Wood Middlebrook 

A Writer Who Got an Early Start

I didn't begin to write out of political awareness. I'd been writing since I was nine years old. I published my first adult story when I was fifteen.

Nadine Gordimer

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Celebrity-Authored Memoirs

Publishers love celebrity authors because they don't have to spend money to make them famous. Celebrity worshippers will come to the book signing events for photo-ops and autographs. The book on sale is nothing more than a souvenir. Celebrity "journalists" invite these semi-literates to appear on TV talk shows to talk about and promote their vacuous, ghost-written memoirs.

Jim Fisher

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Setting For a Novel

Many novelists make use of their hometown or the various places in which they have lived. And why not? These are places one knows best.

Robert DiMaria 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

In a Novel Things Have to Happen to Have a Story

Since a novel is a recreation of reality, its theme has to be dramatized, i.e., presented in terms of action. A story in which nothing happens is not a story. A store whose events are haphazard and accidental is either an inept conglomeration or, at best, a chronicle, a memoir, a reportorial recording, not a novel. It is realism that demands a plot structure in a novel.

Ayn Rand