Tag Archives: books

Creating a Character Template

Dr. Johnson called remarriage “the triumph of hope over experience.” The same might be said of writing a second novel before selling the first. Yet here I stand at the altar again, veiled, clutching a bouquet, arrayed in the sleek second-wedding ivory suit, tuning … Continue reading

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The People’s MFA

I have a new essay on Neil Fein’s Magnificent Nose today about the People’s MFA, and about a particular session taught by Professor Michael Chabon. I’ve been thinking for some time about the process by which writers consciously and unconsciously model, … Continue reading

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“The Goldfinch”

Now that Donna Tartt has won the Pulitzer for The Goldfinch, I should probably link to my review of her beautiful novel on Neil Fein’s Magnificent Nose. A time-honored axiom among screenwriters and novelists is “Chase your character up a tree and … Continue reading

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Querying is Like Hell, Except Your Friends Aren’t There, Part I

In February of 2013, I rejoiced to type “The End” on the manuscript I’d been writing on and off for over twenty years. I spent the next two months editing, proofreading, and preparing the manuscript for the querying ordeal. Querying, … Continue reading

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“A Hologram for the King”

Despite all the hoopla about outdoor activities centered around water, serious book slaves know that the purpose of a summer vacation is reading. This week, the Magnificent Nose ran a series of summer book reviews that asked writers to think … Continue reading

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“Popping the Hood”

Over on Neil Fein’s Magnificent Nose, I have a post up about reading like a writer, including the tragic tale of how I lost my magical reading powers and what I got in exchange. Read the essay here.  Thanks!     … Continue reading

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Max Perkins: Editor of Genius

Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, by A. Scott Berg, arrived in my mailbox from a friend I know only from the Internet, because life is strange these days, with the intersections of the real and the virtual constantly confusing those of … Continue reading

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We Don’t Need Books to Free. We Need Them to be Brilliant.

When I’m meeting people for the first time, some of them want to confess: “Bless me, Librarian, for I have sinned. It has been four years since I last read a book.” People tell me this sheepishly (and quite unbidden. … Continue reading

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Lobbing Nerf Rocks

At a workshop I attended recently, Emmy Laybourne, author of the Monument 14 series, shared a rule, well-known among screenwriters, that I had never heard before: “Chase your character up a tree and throw rocks at him.” It’s smart advice: … Continue reading

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Definitely Not the Opera

(This isn’t a real Perfect Whole essay. Those are long and complicated! This is just a short post about the amazing new place blogging took me recently.) I was contacted by Clare Lawlor, a producer at a CBC radio show … Continue reading

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