fiction Archive

Writing Lessons: Eric McDowell

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In our Writing Lessons series, writers and writing students will discuss lessons learned, epiphanies about craft, and the challenges of studying writing. This week, we hear from Eric McDowell, a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Michigan. —Andrew Ladd, Blog Editor How did you lose your first

Finding the Formula in a 20th Century Fiction Factory

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I was only a few pages in when I understood I wouldn’t be finishing The Outdoor Girls In a Motorcar, a 1913 book from a series called, appropriately, The Outdoor Girls. I’ve already written about not finishing good books, and that wasn’t the issue this time. In fact, it

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “The Man Who Couldn’t Give It Away” by Scott Bradfield

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When I used to teach intro fiction classes, I noticed that students often turned in stories that featured omniscient third-person narrators, and I can remember doing this when I started writing fiction, too. There’s something very alluring, especially when you first start writing, about being able to access the

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

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Spider Legs” by Danielle Lazarin

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Sometimes a story seems to find you at the right moment. Last week I was talking to a friend about our preferences in fiction. After writing this column for most of a year, I’m beginning to get a pretty solid grasp on what kind of stories I tend to

Revising Like Alice(s)

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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

On Reading Diaries: It’s Not Just for Pesky Little Brothers

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We were in our green Ford Aerostar, my high-school self trying to engage my parents in a serious discussion, when my brother began quoting, softly at first, lines from my diary. The kinds of lines you write for yourself, lines that are embarrassing and incriminating when recited out loud

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Devotion” by Dolly Laninga

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I’ve been thinking a lot about history lately, and how the stories we tell ourselves about our lives shape who we are almost as much as actual events. What defines us? Where do we fit into a group? More importantly, how do we decide which stories to tell? Published

My First Nemesis

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I can only admit this because I believe I’m not alone. I believe that every writer—maybe every creative person, maybe anyone whose life is ruled by ambition, by a calling beyond rationality—has an imaginary nemesis. The person isn’t imaginary, mind you. But the rivalry is. Here’s what I mean

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Helpful Products for Family Men: A User’s Guide” by Ryan Trattles

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You guys, I gotta tell you: I’m a sucker for any story that plays with form. Send me your recipes-as-failed-date stories, your museum-tours-as-conspiracy plots, your PowerPoint-homework-as-family narratives. I’m all in. So when I found Ryan Trattles’s story “Helpful Products for Family Men: A User’s Guide” published in Indiana Review,