writing process Archive

“I know that reality and truth are not always the same thing”: An Interview with Christos Ikonomou

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Christos Ikonomou is the author of three short story collections, including Something Will Happen, You’ll See (Archipelago Books, trans. Karen Emmerich, 2016), for which he won the National Short Story Prize. Something Will Happen, You’ll See, a devastating and sparingly written collection of stories about the Greek crisis in

The Autobiography of the Imagination: Toward a Definition

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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

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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

Majestic Endings

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  As I closed in on the first draft of a novel, I wrote toward an ending I’d held in my mind for months. It was a quiet climax in keeping with the, ahem, literary nature of my novel. I knew that when I finished the draft, I’d have

Research Unleashed! And Leashed.

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I knew I had a problem when I started envying my dog’s cone collar. Now, my dog’s problem was a hot spot. Allergic, itchy, hot, and double-coated, my German Shepherd had chewed her hind leg raw over the course of a single evening. My problem was research. Engrossing, surprising,

Writers with Responsibilities: I’d Like to Click My Heels Three Times…

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Dear Sally, I’m a single mother with four kids—everything from tweens to a would-be adult—and I just went back to work full-time. I tell people I’m a writer, but lately I’m a just a thinker, collecting details and perhaps inspiration but never transposing them to the page. I read

I’m in Love With a Writer: A Survival Guide

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Being in a relationship with someone in the same profession is tricky business. While there is a shared understanding of the ins and outs, it can also cause friction, particularly in competitive fields. Dating a writer was one of my bigger relationship snafus—his ego often made our duo a

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Why Learning To Write Plot Matters

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A few years ago, my cousin was just about to graduate from a small state school with an English degree. He told me he wanted to be a writer. I had never read any of his writing, so I was unbelievably discouraging. Try a job in the real world,


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It’s your senior year of college. What kind of writer are you? Do you start writing a story eight hours before it’s due? Do you fictionalize your latest fight with your jerk-face manager or diva housemate? Does every one of your stories read like a screenplay? Like a poem?

Blitz Writing: Writing When There is No Time

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This time of year, many of my friends start looking for summer shares, beach houses, and too-good-to-be-true getaways. While they litter Pinterest with snapshots of cozy cottages within walking distance of the ocean, I drift away on a different flight of fancy: writing retreats and residencies. I pour over