craft Archive

On Intimacy: Elena Ferrante & Stacey D’Erasmo

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing No comments
It seems as though people do not want to believe that fiction can be intimate—that is: detailed, personal, private, sacred, something with which readers feel closely acquainted or familiar. It is especially surprising if it is also broad, and that one book can accomplish both apparently astounds reviewers.

Time and Opening Chapters: Gaining Trust

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing, Writing Advice No comments
Lately I’ve been thinking about time in novels. How to manipulate it, whether it should be linear or nonlinear, and what that choice means for a story. I began to examine it more closely after a recent weekend novel workshop I took with Lauren Grodstein.

On Sentimentality: Zoe Heller, Leslie Jamison, Nate Pritts, & Mary Ruefle

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing No comments
When we talk about sentimentality in literature, we talk about the “contemporary, pejorative sense of the word,” Zoe Heller writes for the New York Times. A word defined by Merriam-Webster as “the quality or state of being sentimental especially to excess or in affectation.” A word with synonyms such as

Our Ladies of Perpetual Sorrow

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing No comments
There’s something happening with the personal in writing, and Jason Guriel’s highly circulated Walrus essay “I Don’t Care About Your Life” wants to warn us about it. “I Don’t Care About Your Life” isn’t as polemical as it sounds. For one, its title doesn’t so much reveal Guriel’s hand,

On the Art of Perspective: Christopher Castellani & Maggie Nelson

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing, Writing Advice No comments
“I want to tell you what happened on the way to dinner.” Christopher Castellani‘s The Art of Perspective: Who Tells the Story begins with that simple phrase, the driving force of storytelling: the author has something they want to convey. Which quickly leads us to the issue of how

Who Speaks How

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing No comments
I love when people ask my friend Jenny and I how we know each other, because long before we co-taught a queer theory elective and drove cross-country and made parallel moves to Pittsburgh, she was one of my first writing teachers. It was in her Xeroxed handout of eclectic

Writing Travel: A Process of Unmooring

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing No comments
Sara Majka‘s debut story collection, Cities I’ve Never Lived In, begins with movement: “Maybe ten or eleven years ago, when I was in the middle of a divorce from a man I still loved, I took the train into the city. We were both moving often during this time,

The Art of the Sad Birthday

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing No comments
Are you a writer looking for a situation with built-in irony and ample opportunities for subtext? Have you considered a melancholy birthday scene? I’ve collected a few merciless examples for consideration. “Referential,” by Lorrie Moore Moore dives into the irony of the sad celebration in the first paragraph of

The Autobiography of the Imagination: Toward a Definition

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice No comments
The autobiography of the imagination writes itself, one could say. It writes every time we write, every time we dream or daydream. It is its own captain’s log, the transaction and receipt. It reveals the self to make the self into a stranger, twisting the I to wring out

On Building Believable Characters in Fiction

Author: | Categories: Fiction, Reading No comments
Before I picked up a copy of Offshore last month, it had been years since I read Penelope Fitzgerald, a British author who didn’t start writing until she was in her sixties. But the characters in this Booker Prize-winning novel caught my attention and I soon became completely emerged