My Words Fly Up

Writing by Committee

In one of my advanced classes, three of the four students have been in class together for a few years. The fourth student joined more than a year ago. So they are all deeply familiar with one another’s novels (as am I, of course). One of the students, Brian, has been working on a marvelous,

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Writing a Mystery

I have always loved mysteries. Maybe it’s because my favorite book when I was ten or so was Harriet the Spy. Actually, Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense novels, which a friend of my mother’s introduced me to when I was in my teens, were what really hooked me. I clearly recall walking to my local bookstore

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In the August 30, 2015, issue of the New York Times, an essay in the Magazine section caught my attention. Called “Standstill,” by Sam Anderson, it is an essay about “the political world’s obsession with the moment.” Acknowledging that modern humans weren’t the first to consider “the moment,” Anderson looks back to the Greeks to

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Editors and Authors

A writer I know complained to me about the editing on her latest book. “Too much!” she said. “The editor changed my style!” I commiserated. As H. G. Wells noted, the urge to rewrite someone else’s words can be irresistible. I always remember the advice my first boss in publishing, the woman who taught me

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Living Room Floor Technique for Revions

The Living-Room-Floor Technique for Revisions

Several writers I know have employed a style of revising that I call the living-room-floor technique for revisions. It’s simple enough—take your printed manuscript and spread it out on the living room floor (or any room with enough space) and start rearranging. Move chapter five to the beginning; take a slow-moving scene and put it

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Be Social


In which I blog about the days I write and the days I don’t write; about teaching about writing; about reading (which is never enough); and occasionally about music, because sometimes a three-minute song can tell as good a story as a novel.

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