fiction Archive

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Entity” by Mira Mattar

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If I think back to the best people I’ve known—those who were my favorites, who were most alluring, engaging, and alive, the personalities that took up space in the world—there’s not necessarily a common thread between all of them. That’s not all that surprising. Humans take different shapes. What

What Netflix Taught Me About Character Development

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I didn’t teach this summer so I was able to catch up on my cultural literacy—reading books and also binge-watching TV. Netflix is my dealer of choice, delivering whole seasons of House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, and Arrested Development. The feeling I get when I’m on

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Abingdon Square” by André Aciman

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I’ve written before about the feeling you get when a story follows you. When you’ve put the book or journal down or you’ve turned off your computer and gotten up and gone back to the rest of your life. But then you catch yourself, in idle moments, thinking of

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “The Disappearance of Herman Grimes” by Michael Shou-Yung Shum

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It’s not often that I cry a little while reading a short story. I’ve been known to cry at badly written episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, at the emotional conclusion of certain novels, and in the presence of pretty much any crying person. (My tear ducts are sympathetic—what can I

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “The Other Kind of Magic” by Juliet Escoria

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Have I written about longing here yet? (I’m sure I have.) Every story is supposed to be stuffed to the gills with an aching desire, something pulling a character through the narrative whether they want it to or not. In a good story, longing is a taut tether that

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

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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,

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Letters Between Tortoise and Hare” by Brandi Wells

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I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately, chaffing against my nine to five office job, weary of the routine and cadence of every week and weekend. It’s spring in New York, which doesn’t help, since all anyone wants to do is go sit in the sun somewhere

Can’t See the Forest OR the Trees

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There’s a standard piece of writing advice—I believe it’s in the Official Fiction Handbook right between #135, Don’t relate dreams, and #137, Stop describing fluorescent lights already – that goes, There’s no such thing as a tree. By which is meant, your character can’t drive through a tunnel of

Ambiguity: The Boundary Between Psychosis and Reality in Science Fiction

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Television culture means that we often lack the depth to deal with ambiguity. The complexity of novels eludes our attention; we often prefer the truncated and clear narratives of sitcoms, where a plot line is fully resolved in forty-three minutes. The beauty of ambiguity, and of the blurred line