Monthly Archive:: February 2012

Five Books That Changed How I Think About Writing

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing 1 Comment
The best books I’ve read haven’t just been good: they’ve changed the way I think about writing, they’ve challenged what I think a book can and should do, they’ve encouraged me to go back to older texts and read them in a new light. In short, they’ve not only

The Ploughshares AWP Book Review Competition

Author: | Categories: Book Reviews 1 Comment
There won’t be any book reviews on the blog this week, mostly because we think you should all be at AWP in Chicago instead, buying—and attending readings of—as many books as you can. More importantly, though, if you happen to be at AWP, make sure you also take some

One Man’s Approach to Writing Women Characters

Author: | Categories: Writing 11 Comments
“How do you write women so well? “I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability.” – As Good As It Gets. The above, often-cited quote about how to write female characters is quite funny, but at least for me, not true. As a man, I

Picking Up Where They Leave Off… an Interview with Randy Testa

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing 1 Comment
Last week, I wrote about a disturbing trend I see in children’s movies. For this week’s post, I asked Randy Testa, Vice President of Education and Professional Development at Walden Media, to share some reflections on the process of adapting children’s books to screen. Randy Testa spent six years

Blurbese: “unflinching”

Author: | Categories: Book Reviews No comments
I think a lot of book reviewers were smacked as children. Some of them must have at least been bullied. How else to explain their admiration for the ability not to flinch? Just look at the first page of results when you Google “unflinching book review.” At the British

Things I Wish I’d Always Known

Author: | Categories: Writing 2 Comments
I was teaching undergraduate creative writing last fall, and toward the end of the semester a few of my students began asking me about how, exactly, one becomes a writer. They wanted to know what classes they should take, what sorts of things they should be thinking about or

The Last Holiday

Author: | Categories: Book Reviews No comments
The Last Holiday Gil Scott-Heron Grove Press, January 2012 384 pages $25.00 “The first change that takes place is in your mind. You have to change your mind before you change the way you’re livin’ and the way you move.” —1991 We remember him as the bluesologist, the godfather

The Black Hole of Revision

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice 2 Comments
You can potentially revise forever, as there’s always something that can be improved in your story. You could’ve added another dimension to a major or minor character. That word you used in paragraph 14, the third sentence…was that the right word? Or is there another one that is more

Knocking Off Mom (or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love G-Rated Murder)

Author: | Categories: Reading 13 Comments
I first noticed it when my daughter was three years old, but I kept my mouth shut. Who was I to spoil her enjoyment of classic children’s movies? Maybe I was imagining the trend. Still, once I’d started seeing it, I saw it everywhere…right there in front of me,

Under the Influence

Author: | Categories: Writing No comments
When you were in school, did you ever do one of those projects (usually in a foreign languageclass, where you’re getting the hang of basic vocabulary) in which you invent a family tree? You know, the works: Judi Dench is your grandmother, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is your dad,