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How Novels Get Made: The Specific Becomes Universal

Novels are big undertakings. That’s not an epiphany, it is a fact.

For proof, you may need to look no further than your own laptop, notebook piles, or margin scribbles. If you are purely a short-form writer and still need convincing, just pick up the last good book you read and really look at it. Then, whisper “how?” reverently into the pages.

This week, authors Claire Messud and Carmiel Banasky discussed everything that goes into a novel--from early ideas to the last edits--for a crowd at Newtonville Books

October 2, 2015 | Cara Wood

Craft Talk Novel The Novel

I Left My Full-Time Job Because I Wanted to Stop Being a “Writer”

You’re a writer on the side.

You write at night; you write when the kids are asleep, when the dog’s had his walk, when the house and all its residents are safely tucked in.

You write in the mornings before the kids are awake, after your coffee, while the sun hoists itself over the horizon and creates condensation against the cold kitchen window.

You do this because you have a job, a J-O-B with a 401K, and you’ve come to believe that able-bodied, able-minded people contribute their 40 hours, and that’s all there is to it

September 28, 2015 | Liz Breen

Careers Freelance Secrets Guest Post Personal Essay The Freelance Life writing life


Denis Johnson is one of those writers I read over and over, and learn something every time. I recently assigned his classic story “Emergency” to students, and suggested we analyze it in terms of plot. More specifically, through the lens of Charles Baxter’s notion of “Captain Happen.”

In his talk on “Momentum and Urgency” at the Muse and the Marketplace conference last May, Baxter listed half a dozen devices “to get a story going and keep it going.” Captain Happen was one of those, described as “a focusing agent that makes things happen.” I thought it would be interesting ...

September 26, 2015 | Ron MacLean

Advice Craft Talk Fiction monthly columnists

Sound Quality: Jane Gardam's Last Friends

We've all had that moment as readers when we stumble across a sentence in a novel or essay that sings to us from the page. There are sentences we want to wrap our tongues around, that we speak aloud just to revel in their aural qualities. For each installment of this brand new blog series, Henriette Lazaridis chooses a single sentence from a work of literature and shows us why it is music to our ears.

September 23, 2015 | Henriette Lazaridis

Audio Craft Talk Inspiration monthly columnists The Drum

Our Internet Faves 9/21/15

Twice a month, we feature our favorite literary links. As ever, we promise: You’ll laugh. You'll ponder. You won’t get any writing done. 

With the release of The Complete Works of Primo Levi published on September 17, The Guardian pays tribute to Levi's unique ability to relay the horrors of the Holocaust in poetic language: 

September 21, 2015 | Grub Daily

Great characters are what drive a great story. Try Creating Memorable Three Dimensional Characters next Fri, Oct 9: