advice Archive

One Year In—Writing the Novel: Celeste Ng

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After one year of writing my novel, I took stock of what I’d accomplished—which seemed like very little. Would writing always feel like flailing? How do novelists find their way through? For guidance, I turned to published novelists, whose interviews are presented in the One Year In: Writing the Novel series.

Writing is Like Making Snowballs

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It snowed today. It was supposed to snow, but only for a minute, and it was not supposed to stick.  Instead it snowed all day and as the sun went down at 4:30 (alas) the snow was still there on the lawn.  And while part of me is so

Revising Like Alice(s)

Author: | Categories: Publishing, Writing No comments
There has been a flurry of praise for Alices lately—Munro for her much-deserved Nobel, McDermott for her highly-praised new novel Someone—and it has me thinking about why these two authors are having a cultural moment. They write about women, often small domestic lives, the kind of characters and plots

Punctuation I Have Known And Loved

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing, Writing Advice 2 Comments
Fall is correcting season for me, and while I try not to turn into the grammar police while I’m reading, I usually cannot resist the chance to amend errors. One of my all time favorites was an essay that suggested that two parties in disagreement solve their problem in

“Let’s Get You an Agent”—An Agent’s How-to for Writers

So—Eric Nelson is an agent with the Susan Rabiner Literary Agency. His own blog, “How to Think Like Your Agent,” is full of quick, no-nonsense advice. Here, he lends our readers a special dose of it: how to get an agent, from an agent’s POV. Check out his words

Writing Is Like Going on Vacation

Author: | Categories: Writing No comments
Over the past few months I’ve compared writing to walking, mixing a drink, cooking, and baseball, and you’ve indulged my metaphorical ramblings. But writing is like going on vacation? No siree. Writing is work, hard work. Work that takes dedication and thought and effort. Lots of effort. I’d rather

Reading Aloud: It’s Not Just for Kids Anymore

Author: | Categories: Writing 4 Comments
As I wrote in my last post, I’ve been reading a lot of children’s books lately, out loud to my daughter. (She doesn’t seem to hear them when I read silently.) It’s made me more conscious of how words and sentences flow together and has helped me streamline my

Episodia 1.7: Lost Novels and Love Triangles

Author: | Categories: Uncategorized 6 Comments
Lately I’ve been thinking about beginnings, endings, and that terribly murky time between a writer completing one project and starting another. After recently finishing a memoir, I’ve been itching to write a novel. I have a strong start to a new one—it’s always thrilling to be at the beginning of something, when all

What You Can Learn About Writing from Children’s Books

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I’ve spent the last year and a half brushing up on reading that for the last three decades or so I’ve been neglecting. Since my daughter was born, I’ve been diving deep into the literary canon, paging through tens or hundreds (well, some days it feels like hundreds) of

Beach Writing

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice 2 Comments
I was elbow-deep in my first novel when my second novel arrived. Since Novel 2 concerns premature babies, its timing seemed appropriate. For a week, I pacified Novel 2 with light research and a thousand words of writing. There, I told it. Wait. I headed back to the hard,