Read Like A Writer

There are two ways to learn how to write fiction: by reading it and by writing it. Yes, you can learn lots about writing stories in workshops, in writing classes and writing groups, at writers' conferences. You can learn technique and process by reading the dozens of books like this one on fiction writing and by reading articles in writers' magazines. But the best teachers of fiction are the great works of fiction themselves. You can learn more about the structure of a short story by reading Anton Chekhov's 'Heartache' than you can in a semester of Creative Writing 101. If you read like a writer, that is, which means you have to read everything twice, at least. When you read a story or novel the first time, just let it happen. Enjoy the journey. When you've finished, you know where the story took you, and now you can go back and reread, and this time notice how the writer reached that destination. Notice the choices he made at each chapter, each sentence, each word. (Every word is a choice.) You see now how the transitions work, how a character gets across a room. All this time you're learning. You loved the central character in the story, and now you can see how the writer presented the character and rendered her worthy of your love and attention. The first reading is creative—you collaborate with the writer in making the story. The second reading is critical.


John Dufresne, from his book, The Lie That Tells A Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Day Of Sunshine by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    O gift of God! O perfect day:
    Whereon shall no man work, but play;
    Whereon it is enough for me,
    Not to be doing, but to be!

    Through every fibre of my brain,
    Through every nerve, through every vein,
    I feel the electric thrill, the touch
    Of life, that seems almost too much.

    I hear the wind among the trees
    Playing celestial symphonies;
    I see the branches downward bent,
    Like keys of some great instrument.

    And over me unrolls on high
    The splendid scenery of the sky,
    Where though a sapphire sea the sun
    Sails like a golden galleon,

    Towards yonder cloud-land in the West,
    Towards yonder Islands of the Blest,
    Whose steep sierra far uplifts
    Its craggy summits white with drifts.

    Blow, winds! and waft through all the rooms
    The snow-flakes of the cherry-blooms!
    Blow, winds! and bend within my reach
    The fiery blossoms of the peach!

    O Life and Love! O happy throng
    Of thoughts, whose only speech is song!
    O heart of man! canst thou not be
    Blithe as the air is, and as free?

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